Mary, Did You Know?

December 17, 2017

Series: December 2017

Speaker: Bethany Nelson

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

 Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Her mercy is for those who fear her from generation to generation. She has shown strength with her arm; she has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. She has helped her servant Israel, in remembrance of her mercy, according to the promise God made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to God’s descendants forever.”

  Last week, one of my friends asked people to post their least favorite Christmas song on Facebook. The entrant who caught my attention was someone who wrote, “Mary Did You Know,” and then in parenthesis he wrote, “Yes, she did.” I’m not totally sure I agree with that. Though these stories from scripture illustrate that Mary had a good idea that her child would be special, I’m guessing there were still some surprises for her in Jesus’ life. It makes me wonder what that time was like for her … that time when she first found out that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Maybe it went something like this.

 Hi, I’m Mary. I remember so much that has happened in my life—times of exultation and joy, times of deep sorrow and grief, times when I was puzzled at what God was doing.

 I grew up listening to my father tell me about the greatness of our people. I remember learning about the glory of Israel, of King David, King Solomon, and their vast kingdom. As I memorized psalms and learned about the promises of God to send a Messiah, I would look around and see the powerful Roman soldiers. I hated their arrogance and cruelty. And I would pray for the coming of the Messiah, who would make us a nation and restore the glory we once had.

 Song: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

 One day Joseph, that handsome carpenter, came to my mother and father and told them he would like to marry me. Of all the men I thought I might want to marry, Joseph was the kindest, the gentlest. Now I had a dream that really could come true. We were engaged, and Joseph started to build a room on his family’s home so we would have a place to live when we got married.

 As I started preparing for our wedding, I was praying one evening when an angel – of all things! - appeared before me saying, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.” I was so frightened! Not to mention surprised. He was visiting me, Mary. A poor girl in Nazareth. Impossible! But it happened. This angel seemed at the same time close enough for me to reach out and touch, but also somehow at a great distance. He shimmered and moved in the fading light. I wondered whether I was dreaming. Had I fallen and hit my head? Was there anybody nearby to rescue me?

 The angel spoke again, telling me that I would become the mother of the Messiah. He would be called the Son of God. I couldn’t imagine how such a thing could be. The angel told me, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” I have held onto that truth all my life. After the angel left, I was still trembling as I tried to picture what was ahead for me. My baby would be the Messiah?!?

 Song: Mary, Did You Know?

I had to share the news with someone, but I wasn’t yet ready to tell Joseph. So I decided to visit my relative, Elizabeth. After the long trip, when I entered the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth and saw that she was going to have a child – even in her advanced age - I knew I really had seen an angel. Elizabeth told me she was honored to be visited by the mother of her Lord! That was a revelation … she called my son her Lord. Then the truth became real to me: God had chosen me, and my heart was lifted up in wonder and joy. I couldn’t keep quiet—I had to sing my praises to God.

 Song: Angels We Have Heard on High

 I stayed with Elizabeth for three months. Then I had to return home to tell my mother and father and Joseph the news. How would they receive it? How could they possibly believe that my child was the Son of God? I will never forget the look of anguish in Joseph’s eyes. I told him that I would understand if he chose to end our engagement. He couldn’t save me from my shame; all my friends would shun me. What was God asking of me?

 But then, God sent an angel to Joseph and told him to take me as his wife. The angel told Joseph that my son would be the Savior, and that we should name him Jesus. So Joseph took me to live with his family, and he lovingly cared for me. I give thanks for that angel!