At times, so-called “evangelicals” are afraid of talking about Mary, the earthly mother of the Christ of God, or least find it difficult. We often forget that without her there would be no Jesus born in Bethlehem. If we carefully reflect on Mary’s expectancy and her part in the Christmas story, we see depicted something of the part that God wants us all, as Christ’s followers, to play in His redemptive purposes.
First, God reveals his plans to Mary through an angel, due to the close relationship she had with God–purposeful, yet “fearful.” As the mother of our Lord, she literally bore in her own body the unborn Christ. Today, believers are called into a similar personal experience in Christ in which our bodies become the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. Humanly speaking, and in certain life-threatening situations, we can be scared as to what others will think, say, or do. So God’s encouraging words remain (over 365 times): “Don’t be afraid.”
Next, Mary raises a problem for God, and her objection seems reasonable: “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with any man?” Often we too face God’s purposes for us by raising similar difficulties and challenges. How can I possibly be this or do that? Notice how the objection raised was met by the operation that was promised: “the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk. 1:35). This same promise still holds good since God purposes can only be accomplished by His Spirit at work in us. With Mary, let us ponder in our hearts and receive afresh God’s Word, as in Eph. 3:20.
Finally, Scripture records Mary’s prayer to God for us. And what an amazing prayer that was! “I’m the Lord’s servant; may it be done to me according to your word” (v. 38). What a total submission that was; this Christlike virtue is what’s missing in our modern churches! We see God’s salvation achieved through that prayer, for if there had been no obedience on Mary’s part there would be no Savior for the world. God has a plan of salvation to touch many lives which can be accomplished only when He finds us submissive and obedient like Mary.
Mary teaches us what it takes to find favor with God. She was indeed blessed, not above, but among women, simply because with expectant faith and deep courage she did her part.
Let us do our part this Christmas. Begin by praying: O Come, Emmanuel, I rejoice today in your birth. Thank you that you came to us and lived among us as one of us, yet you were God’s final Word on Life. And now, as you lived in Mary, live in me and spread your love through me. Help me to expect you not only to be with me, but to do great things through me for your glory. Amen.