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Lessons Learned from Mary's Response

By Hope Reimers

The Christmas story is one of the most well-known stories in existence. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there haven’t been times it has lost some of its luster after years of hearing this story repetitively in the same way. There were a few things I noticed looking through Mary’s perspective that changed the view I had of the great Christmas story. We know it was absolutely a Divine miracle, but there is also quite a bit of humanity that makes this story so much more real and applicable to Christians now.

Mary’s Reaction to the News

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

In my vivid imagination, Gabriel, the angel, is probably quite excited to be given the task to deliver news that will change the world, so when he gets to Mary, he greets her with that same excitement. “Hello! Oh, you are SO favoured! God is with you, and you’re one of the most blessed women to ever exist!” *smile* Now, Mary’s reaction on the other hand was NOT, “Wow! Me?!” It was more like “Who are you? What are you doing in my house, and what kind of greeting was that?” In her mind, she understandably could’ve thought, “You’re talking like you’ve known me for a while, but you never even introduced yourself or told me from where you traveled.”

Luke 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

In the next few verses, Gabriel backtracks and tries again telling her not to be afraid and that she will soon be pregnant with a son named Jesus who will reign over a forever kingdom. What I found interesting is the fact that there is no indication at this point in the conversation that Mary knew she was talking to an angel. All she knows is that a stranger from who-knows-where has come up to her very excitedly telling her that she is going to be pregnant.

Mary’s Rejection of the Truth

Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

She was probably doubting this person with the unbelievable news and trying to find a way to dismiss him so that she could get back to finishing her work for the day. Then in verse 35, the angel explains that she will conceive by the Holy Ghost and give birth to that holy Thing, who will be called the Son of God. Next, what the angel says in verse 36 is when I believe the truth starts to solidify in her mind. The initial news of Mary conceiving just didn’t make much sense logically, but now Gabriel brought up her cousin Elisabeth. I imagine Mary started to realize that this person very well would have spoken the truth if he also knew about this other family miracle. The angel also ended with this powerful statement—Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Mary’s Resignation to the Truth

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Mary believed and accepted the truth. She acknowledged that she is a servant of the Lord and that whatever He willed would happen. What I found missing from Luke 1:26-38 is that it never once mentions Mary being happy about this situation. She believed the news was real, but to her initially, it probably wasn’t a blessing. She might have seen it as a trial. “If this is true, what will my fiancé think of me? What about my friends, my family? Will they believe me when I try to explain what happened?” I can’t help but think there was at least one time when she didn’t think or feel like she was “blessed” as the angel said.

Mary’s Realization of the Truth

Mary went straight to her cousin Elisabeth’s house because she was the one person this “stranger” mentioned in that shocking conversation. She just needed someone to talk to who could possibly understand what was happening. She knew Elisabeth’s husband was a priest, and Elisabeth was a pastor’s wife, so maybe they could help shed light on the situation. Even before Mary could start to talk about what just happened between her and the angel, God steps in and speaks through Elisabeth to Mary and repeats some of the angel’s words loudly.

Luke 1:41-42 And it came to pass, that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb;… and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

It was no accident God repeated that message and those exact words the angel previously told her. When God says something once, He means it. When God says something twice, He wants it emphasized. I can imagine God thinking, “If you didn’t fully believe my message from the angel, maybe you’ll believe it from your cousin.” “Blessed is the fruit of your womb”— Mary probably didn’t see this pregnancy as a blessing because she knew how it would affect her reputation. She’d undoubtedly tried to live a good, clean life—God chose her out of all women to be the mother of the Savior!

The angel previously told her in detail why this child would be a blessing, but again God had to repeat that message. Verse 43 is when I think the full weight of the truth started to sink in.

Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Luke 1:45a And blessed is she that believed:

She may have started in doubt, but she ended in belief.

Mary’s Rejoicing in the Truth

Luke 1:46-55 is verse after verse of Mary praising the Lord for his goodness! Mary probably felt overwhelmed with worry at the beginning. Her mind throughout the trip to her cousin’s home was most likely filled with questions of how, why, what if, and when? Now, she finally understood and heard the truth through God’s perspective. I imagine tears of joy and comfort pouring down while she praised the Lord that He had looked down, saw her, and chosen her to be the mother of the world’s Saviour. This time, she felt overwhelmed with relief. The doubts and the fears slipped away. She was able to embrace her situation rather than question it. God didn’t change her situation.

He helped her change her perspective of the situation.

Mary’s Reputation Despite the Truth

She was able to rejoice, but her life wasn’t always easy. She came back home to a fiancé who doubted her integrity. After about three months of helping Elisabeth, she comes back home pregnant. Joseph loved her but was understandably unsure of the situation. This is why an angel had to come and explain everything and tell Joseph that Mary had done nothing wrong. Although God was able to clear the doubt of Mary’s reputation in Joseph’s mind, no record shows God sent an angel to all of their friends and family to prove her innocence. Mary’s reputation may have been tainted in the eyes of people, but she was “highly favoured” by the One Who mattered most. I believe Mary had harsh criticism starting the moment her pregnancy was announced. I’m sure she and her family, including Jesus, were treated differently because some thought He was a child born out of adultery. She may have had critics, but I believe it allowed her to live a life that was pleasing to God rather than men because there were no appeasing critical people.

All of Mary’s responses relate to how we respond to situations as Christians.
  1. Mary’s Reaction - Overwhelmed

  2. Mary’s Rejection - Doubt

    1. Every human’s immediate response

  3. Mary’s Resignation - “I believe God” with head knowledge.

    1. The Christian’s response to God’s ability—“For with God nothing is impossible”

    2. We believe it, but don’t always apply it personally. We look for how we can fix it on our own.

  4. Mary’s Realization - “I believe God” with the whole reality & heart knowledge.

    1. The Christian’s lightbulb moment during preaching, lesson, or devotion.

    2. “That message or truth was just for me.”

  5. Mary’s Rejoicing - Finding real joy in trials through the Lord

    1. The Christian’s new perspective of trials

    2. There is a joy that can be found in trials, but sometimes we’re looking in the wrong spot. Sometimes we think the source of our joy is found in things or even people.

  6. Mary’s Reputation

    1. Whether people think we do things for the right reasons or not doesn’t always matter. A good reputation is important, but it is not everything simply because we cannot please everyone.

What are our responses to problems in life? We may start with immediate, rash reactions, but do we end there? Do we take it a couple of steps back, pause, and look wider at the whole reality? Do we take that Bible head knowledge we know so well and apply it personally? Do we see our situation through our own eyes and personal perspective or the eyes of the Lord and His Word?

When we’re in a situation that we don’t understand at all or don’t see the light in our life, I hope we take the time to look directly to the Light Who will guide us through every decision if we let Him.

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