Mary of Nazareth
Open Your Bible
Luke 1:26-38, Luke 2:1-7, John 2:1-12, John 19:25-27
When I was young, my church put on a Christmas pageant every year. At age 8, I was given the extreme honor of performing a solo for that year’s pageant. My shining moment came as Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem, looking for somewhere safe to stay so Mary could give birth to Jesus. As Mary and Joseph came upon the inn my character was “working” at, I burst into song, repeating over and over, “No room. No room.”
That’s it. “No room.” My twenty seconds of fame. (Twenty might be generous.)
This follows the story I learned about Mary growing up: She is visited by an angel and told she will give birth to Jesus. She is afraid Joseph, her fiancé, will leave her, but he is visited by an angel too! They travel on a donkey to Bethlehem for a census, and while they are there, the time comes for Mary to give birth. But there isn’t anywhere for them to stay! (Time for my solo—“No room. No room.”) And so when Jesus is born, He is laid in a manger, a food trough for animals. He grows up, and that’s when the story really begins.
For the most part, this was all I’d really learned about Mary. But one of the best parts of Mary’s story actually comes at the very beginning, when she is first visited by the angel. When the angel tells her she will be the mother of Jesus, God’s own Son, she is quick to question, ”How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34). Mary was likely confused and concerned, given her engagement to Joseph, as any young woman would be upon receiving such news. But the angel counters her confusion and fear with a reminder of the power of the Lord her God. He tells Mary that the child she is carrying will be called the Son of God. And then he reminds her of her cousin Elizabeth, and the son she is now carrying after years of infertility. Nothing is impossible with God.
Mary’s response to the angel is simple and powerful: “I am the Lord’s servant… May it happen to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Before Jesus was even born, His mother was committed to being a servant of the Lord. Even though her life was being turned upside down, her own plans disrupted, and she was unsure of the future she thought she would have with Joseph, one thing remained true: she was a servant of the Lord. And because she trusted in the Lord, she knew that His plans for her life were better than the ones she had herself.
In moments of uncertainty, when we’re told that something will likely turn our life upside down, we may try to cope with it by hanging on to whatever sense of control we think we have at that time. We try to keep a tight, white-knuckled grip on what we think we know to be best for us; those are easy reactions that offer a false sense of security. But Mary does the exact opposite—she lets go. And with open hands she gives herself to God’s plan.