If Mary knew the scriptures, there were some things she knew. If she had listened to the teachings of the prophets and rabbis, there were some things she knew.
Mary knew she was to bear the Christ-child. She knew this because the angel told her so. She believed. If she was familiar with prophecy, she would have also known that a virgin would give birth to the Messiah – which is just what the angel told her.
Mary knew her Baby would not be born until she arrived in Bethlehem.
When Caesar Augustus issued his decree, Mary could not have been surprised. How else would she have had a reason to travel to Bethlehem so close to the delivery date of her Baby? She didn’t need to worry about that 60-mile trip to Bethlehem. If she understood and believed the scriptures, she knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. How else would she get there? That reason came in the form of the decree from Caesar Augustus. Joseph needed to follow the law and travel to Bethlehem to register for the census. Joseph was of the house of David, and that’s where the descendants of David had to go to be registered.
Many stories portray Mary’s concern about traveling to Bethlehem in her condition. You know what I think? I think Mary wasn’t worried about making it to Bethlehem before her Baby was born. For God had said the Child would be born in Bethlehem. That meant He would not be born on the sixty-mile journey.
Mary knew that her Baby would be a son. The angel told her that. In Mary’s time, there were no ultrasounds to tell the parents the sex of an unborn child. But Mary – and Elizabeth – knew that their babies would be boys. The angel told them so.
Mary knew the name of her unborn child. Indeed, she learned the name of this Child before His conception, for the angel told Joseph what His name would be when he said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The infant Child was not even conceived, but He had a name: Jesus.
Mary knew that God had a plan for this Child – and it included her.
She was wise, she was alert, and she was daring. When the shepherds came to visit and told her about the angels, she tucked their stories away in her heart. We know this because the record in scripture declares this to be so.
Mary recognized that she had an important role to play – as the servant of God. She wasn’t a god or a princess or a queen, even though she would be the mother of a King. She considered herself a “handmaid of the Lord” and committed herself to being a part of God’s plan. She voiced her commitment when she said, “Be it unto me according to thy Word.”
In her song known as the Magnificant, Mary doesn’t talk about what she will do; she exclaims over what God has done and what He will do:
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Mary knew that the Almighty had done great things and that His Name is Holy.
She was so young, so innocent, and so inexperienced. Yet, instead of looking at what she didn’t have or what she couldn’t do, she remembered Jehovah. She focused on Jehovah – what He had done, and what He could do. That, my friends, is why Mary could do what she did – all the way from the birth in the stable to the crucifixion on the cross. She knew Jehovah God. She knew Jehovah Jireh (my Provider) and that was enough.
Mary knew that remembering her past would help her when facing the future. When the road ahead seems uncertain, it helps to be able to look back and remember those times when God came through in mighty ways: those times when He showed up in the sky above the shepherds, those times when He used a star as GPS for the wise men, and those times He sent an angel to give courage and hope. The years ahead were not all bliss for the mother of Jesus. Yet, she kept all those memories and pondered them in her heart. I am certain that, when the enemy threatened to mar her peace, she remembered the grace and providence of Jehovah in her past.
We can be like Mary and trust God for our unknown future because He has been faithful in our past.
When it seems hard to trust God because of what is happening, how about going back and remembering the ways in which God has been faithful in the past? How about keeping these things, and pondering them in our hearts when the going is rough? How about acknowledging that even when we don’t understand, we can trace the hand of God – like Mary. Then we, too, can say, “Be it unto me according to Your Word.”
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