On the 25th December each year most Christians choose to celebrate the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ.Shopping malls used to be festooned with decorations, Christmas trees stood in the windows of most stores, and carols filled the air.
Not any more. Now, at best, you see a token decoration and a ‘Happy Holidays’ sign in the odd shop window.
But do you remember the little carved nativity scenes? The baby Jesus in a crib, donkeys and assorted livestock peering in along with a token shepherd; Oh, and Joseph and Mary standing behind the crib. Mary doesn’t usually feature much in our modern Christmas celebrations but I want to focus on her in this article… and no, I haven’t converted to Roman Catholicism 🙂
The Gospels record two genealogies for Jesus of Nazareth.
- The one in Matthew starts with Abraham, through King David, and ends with Jacob. Well, actually the last person mentioned in the royal line is… Mary. Joseph is simply listed as ‘the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ’.
- The other genealogy, recorded in Luke’s gospel, starts with the words, ‘He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli…’
The reason for the way these lists are presented is that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father. Mary was a virgin and the angel Gabriel foretold her divine impregnation with these wonderfully mysterious words;
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).
Joseph provided Jesus’ valid claim to the throne of David, but God the Father provided the divine lineage.
Mary played a hugely important role in the unfolding of God’s great plan of salvation.
In Eden, Adam and Eve rebelled against the Almighty, and as a result became separated from God’s life, knowledge, and presence. But from that horrendously fateful moment onwards, God initiated a plan to bring His lost children back into relationship with himself. This plan took thousands of our years to play out and involved the cooperation of a nation, a tribe, and a person. The nation was Israel, the tribe was Judah, and the person was… Mary.
Mary was the finest product of humanity as represented by the Old Testament people of God. She was a very special young lady. The angel greeted her with these words; “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28) and this surprised the humble Mary and made her fearful. The angel then explained that God himself was going to cause His son to be born into the world with and through her. Her response to this marvelously outrageous news was simply, “I am the Lord’s servant”.
I wonder how a less pure, humble, and dedicated person might have reacted.
Over her remaining life, Mary saw and heard many wonderful things which she treasured in her heart (Luke 2:19,51) but she also had to deal with the incomprehensible and the emotionally painful. Perhaps when she had given birth to Jesus she had whispered to herself ‘It has started’, but just over 33 years later she heard her beloved son say “It is finished” (John 19:30).
No, Mary was not herself born without a human father, and no, Mary did not ascend bodily into heaven without dying, but nevertheless Mary is to be honoured and remembered; she herself declared that, “from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48)
When I consider the life of Mary I am always freshly impacted by two things.I am awed by God’s meticulous plan for saving humanity from rebellion and shame. How patiently and perfectly He worked with Israel, His chosen people, until all things were ready for the coming of the Saviour into the world. And all the threads of destiny came together in one young woman, Mary. The other thing that impresses me so is that God, who can do anything to anyone at any time and in any way, selected a method of bringing about reconciliation and new life that involved a woman. Without a woman’s willing participation there would be no Jesus of Nazareth, fully divine yet fully human, and without Jesus, the Son of God, the son of Mary, there would be no salvation for you and me. Cynics and detractors claim that God must be a male misogynist and that Christianity is patriarchal and biased… not so!
Here are the words of a song I appreciate greatly, and I have also given you the link to the video HERE. Enjoy it this Christmas season.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will someday walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.