As we enter into our very first week of Advent, I would like to take the time to consider Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Unless you’re Catholic (which I am not), Mary tends to be overlooked until Christmas rolls around, and even then I’m not sure we give her the respect she deserves as a woman of God.
Her faith is beyond many of the men mentioned in the Bible and her trust and hope in God is something to strive for.
Let’s take a look at the moment Mary’s name got etched in History.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
That is what I call bravery!
Mary lived at a time when women lived with their fathers and mothers until they were old enough to be married.
Around 14 or 15 many young girls will enter into a time of betrothal. It is a time of engagement, and preparation for marriage, but it is just as legally binding as the marriage itself.
This is where young Mary finds herself. She was about 14 years old, betrothed for Joseph, and is being told by an Angel that she will bear the Son of God.
At 24 and unmarried I was scared when I found out I was expecting a child. I was an adult, I was out on my own and I had a means to support myself as well as a family that would be supportive of me as well.
Mary did not have that. By obeying God she risked being rejected by Joseph, and rejected by her family, friends, and neighbors.
Joseph was a good man and he stood by her. He continued his betrothal and later married her, but not everyone saw Mary as a servant of God.
At the time she lived in Mary would have become an outcast, and only because Joseph stood by her did Mary, most likely, escape being stoned for adultery.
We see how much see sacrificed to obey God when it comes time for Jesus to be born.
When we think of the manger scene, we think of Mary, in a barn, holding her perfect baby boy, surrounded by calm animals, angels, wise men, and shepherds.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
As Mary and Joseph traveled to the land of Bethlehem because Joseph was of the house of David, they would have traveled to where Joseph’s extended family lived.
In the Bible, the word used for Inn in the story of Jesus’ birth is “Katalyma”.
The Katalyma was the private guest room, or upper room, set above the living quarters in a standard Israeli home.
In stories where Hotels or Inns are mentioned they use the word “Pandochion”.
When Mary and Joseph were told that the Inn was full but they could use the stables, they weren’t being turned out by a hotel owner they had never met before, but by Joseph’s family.
They were turned out by family.
And the private barn was most likely not what we imagine either.
This is a picture of a display of an Israeli house in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth.
Below the living quarters and the Katalyma are the stables and the court yard. Jesus’ birth may have happened with a manger near by to use as a crib, but Mary might as well have been giving birth on the front lawn for all the more privacy she had at a very intimate event.
Mary sacrificed her good name, risked her marriage, and endured much to obey God.
She had so much faith in who God is and hope in what God would do with the child He was giving to her that she took it all on willingly.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.
“May your word to me be fulfilled.”
How I would love to have the faith and hope of Mary! The only thing she faced that was harder than carrying the Son of God would be to watch the child she carried and raised die for all mankind, and she did both to honor and glorify God.