The people we see in the Christmas story experienced things that were never seen before and have not been seen since. In this time of Advent, we’ll look at some of these Bible characters, studying their responses to the birth of the Messiah and how to apply lessons from each to our lives today.
The following is taken from Will Graham’s book, In the Presence of the King.
“And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.’” —Luke 1:46-49, NKJV
Scripture: Luke 1:26-36, 46-55; Luke 2:1-7, 19-20
It’s hard not to be intrigued and impressed by Mary. She was just a teenager, some estimates say between 13 and 16 years old, when an angel appeared to her. I can just imagine how a teen today would have reacted if an angel of the Lord showed up in their room. My guess is that the immediate response would be fear, screams or crying. The sheer overwhelming nature of the experience would be enough to cause that reaction.
However, when the angel appears and brings a joyful message—“Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”—the Bible says that Mary was “troubled.” The angel even encouraged her with, “Do not be afraid.”
One would expect that Mary would struggle with this revelation and abrupt change in her life’s path. After all, things seemed to be going okay. She was even engaged to a man named Joseph, but now she would be the gossip of the town. A scandal like an unwed pregnancy would not go unnoticed, and answering the critics by saying that an angel visited her would likely cause more questions than answers.
But Mary was clearly no normal teenager!
After her initial response, Mary embraces her calling as the earthly mother of Jesus. In what is called “The Song of Mary” (Luke 1:46-55), we see a young woman who considers herself blessed, who rejoices!
Of course, the story doesn’t end there, and things don’t get any easier. Mary, at the end of her pregnancy, must endure the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, at the end of which she delivers the Christ child in a manger.
Was she bitter? Did she shout at God, “You did this to me, and now you can’t even give me a decent place to give birth? Not even one room?”
No, as she held her child, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, she pondered all that had taken place, keeping it in her heart.
As you enter this Advent season, maybe this year hasn’t gone how you planned. Maybe you expected your life to be much different than it is. Perhaps you’re even mad at God and blame Him for your circumstances.
If so, it’s okay to be troubled, but I invite you to do as Mary did, and rejoice in the midst of your pain. Lay it all at the feet of the One who came to save you, whose birth we celebrate. Despite the struggles, Mary considered herself blessed because of what God did for her, and you can too as you ponder how He has blessed you.
Discussion Questions: In what ways has the past year been a struggle? How have you seen God work through your situation? Are you able to worship Jesus in the midst of the challenges?
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, and for the hope that He gives us. Even when our lives take difficult or unexpected turns, we can still find our joy and peace in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.