Reading the story of Jesus birth never ceases to reveal nuggets of inspiration and new information, as it is with all of the Holy Scriptures when we take the time to read them. For years when the kids were younger we looked forward to reading the Christmas story around the tree and acting out the parts of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus, not to mention a few shepherds, sheep, angels and a donkey depending on the cast of nieces and nephews. It was fun to raid the closets and find old robes, towels, sheets, fabric and walking sticks to costume the children, and they always looked a little disheveled in their “custom made” wardrobe. Donkey ears made of house slippers, tinsel for halos, and cotton balls pinned in the hair added to the ambiance of the cast. A plastic baby carrier would do as a manger, since “baby Jesus” would best act the part while asleep. The pictures and memories from those years cause us to laugh and cry.
Now that the kids are older, it’s not as hectic a task to read the story in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, but it is still very poignant. A few years ago as each of us read a different character’s part, I realized how many times the revelation of who Mary’s son would be, was reaffirmed to her by many different witnesses.
- Gabriel- It started with the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she would bear a son who would be great and a son of the Most High. Mary needed clarification of this revelation since she was a virgin, so Gabriel patiently explained to her just how this would be accomplished. She must have been filled with emotion and questions as she humbly accepted this assignment. (Luke 1:26-38)
- The Holy Spirit- “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (as a shining cloud); and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing which shall be born of you, will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35, Amplified NT)
- Elizabeth- Further encouragement was given to Mary as she met her cousin Elizabeth and her baby John leaped in her womb at Mary’s greeting. Luke 1:42 states that Elizabeth spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Mary praised the Lord at this blessing according to Luke 1:39-55.
- Joseph- The distress of being with child and not knowing what her future would be was resolved when Joseph took Mary as his wife. After an angel appeared to him in a dream, Joseph was informed of the plan to bring a son into the world, to be born of a virgin, Mary, and that His name would be Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
- Shepherds and a multitude of heavenly angels- Mary again “weighed and pondered these sayings in her heart” (Luke 2:19, Amplified NT), when the shepherds visited the babe lying in a manger in Bethlehem and revealed to everyone what the angel told them. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The angel of the Lord explained to the shepherds when, where and how to find the Child. (Luke 2:8-20)
- Simeon- After the days of Mary’s purification were over, the Holy family traveled to Jerusalem, to present the Child to the Lord according to the custom of the law. The priest Simeon took Jesus in his arms and stated “For my eyes have seen Your salvation”. (Luke 2:21-35)
- The Wise Men (as they visited the Holy family some months or years after the birth of Jesus). “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10-11, RSV)
- The star itself- We are told that a star, or the glory of the Lord, shown down upon the place where the child was. Mary must have felt so warmed by the light from heaven that led the wise men from the East to their home. (Matthew 2:9)
- Jesus himself- While I'm sure it was a joy and a challenge to parent the perfect Son of God, Mary must have been amazed at the person Jesus was. “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40, RSV)
When my daughter went through the pregnancy and birth of her first child, a baby boy, traveling this road with her brought back many memories of the uncertainty and questions involved in one of the greatest of human experiences. What will he look like? How does it feel? Will I be a good parent? When will it happen? And then when it does happen, emotions, pain, baby squeaks, cries and sleep deprivation all contribute to an overwhelming realization that we are responsible for another eternal being and we wonder, “What have I gotten myself into?” If under normal circumstances mothers feel this way, what must Mary have experienced, becoming the mother of Jesus? I think she probably had many of the same questions with an added burden of parenting the Son of God. Just as we pray for and receive God’s guidance and comfort in these circumstances, she looked to our Heavenly Father and found love, patience, acceptance, encouragement and direction.
From the time Mary was a young child she probably heard the stories told from the Torah of the coming Messiah, which may have prepared her for this divine calling. We are so blessed to have the entire Bible to tell us who Jesus is from Genesis to Revelation; Prophet, Priest, King, Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. This Christmas let’s allow God’s word to penetrate our minds and let the Holy Spirit reaffirm in our hearts who Jesus is, Emmanuel, God with us!
Merry Christmas and God bless you!