I had no idea which Wait. . what? moments would be featured in this series. There are, after all, so many of these in the pages of scripture, how do you choose just 10? I think if I featured every one of them, this series might take me years to write, so I am capping it with this post. My hope was that we would be reminded of our amazing God who not only created the universe and everything in it, but who desires to be in relationship with each and every one of us. These chosen Wait. . . what? moments have highlighted not only His ability to do the impossible, but also the fact that He sees us, hears us, and wants to have a personal relationship with each of us. His love knows no bounds.
I could not wrap this series of posts up without this very well known Wait. . what? moment in history. Last week, I blogged about Sarah who had a baby when she was in her 90’s. This week, we’re going to the extreme opposite of birth scenarios which includes a young virgin mother. Wait. . . what? We all know it- the famous words that are often revisited during the Christmas season. . . “she gave birth to a Son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.” This simple sentence, found in Luke 2:7, changed history. Jesus, the Son of God, traded heaven for Mary. For Joseph. For the shepherds. For the wisemen. For you. For me. For every person who ever was, is, and will be.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee name Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. . . And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:26, 30 ESV.
Last December, I read the book Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs. It was a quick read that highlighted the stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so!
It was not until I read this book that I ever gave any thought to Mary’s age when she carried Jesus in her womb; I guess I always assumed she was 16 or 17. Scholars believe she would have been 12, 13, or 14 ~ the common age of a girl during that time in history to be betrothed to her husband.
“Wait . . . what?” Our oldest daughter is twelve. This gives me a very different picture of Mary. These early teen years are difficult ones in that there are so many changes happening, both physically and emotionally. Estrogen, it seems, is being pumped out of a power-washer and girls are coming into their own as the grapple with their identity during these formable years. And then, to be visited by an angel and told that you have been chosen to carry the Son of God. What?
But, perhaps her response deserves an even louder “Wait . . . what?”
Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38, ESV
Becoming pregnant prior to moving in with your husband would have brought shame on a family, however the consequence of becoming pregnant by another man during a betrothal could have brought death to her, by way of stoning. Obviously, Joseph knew they hadn’t been together physically, so it would be right to assume she had been unfaithful. You can imagine the thoughts that would have raced through her mind. And yet, she accepted the call.
On page 44 of The Women of Christmas, these words of Liz struck me, “God didn’t choose Mary because she was unique. Mary was unique because God chose her.”
Mary was just a normal girl. Often, she gets idolized and put on a pedestal, but she was a twelve, thirteen, or fourteen year old girl, with an outpouring of estrogen just like any other young teen, who found favor with God. Why? Was it her character? Was it her devotion to Him? Was it the fact that she was betrothed to Joseph? Yes to all of the above. But don’t miss this: God looks at the heart. He knew her heart was soft towards Him and that she would accept this incredibly risky invitation to be a part of His story. Mary understood that this life is not at all about us, rather completely about Him. “Mary was unique because God chose her.”
And she said yes to the impossible that would threaten her very own existence, trusting God each and every step of the way. She watched Him show His faithfulness as He plowed down the barriers that stood in front of her so that Jesus could enter earth in a way that would blow our minds both then and now. It is worth re-reading Luke 1 and 2. Don’t wait for December 24th or 25th!
But the true, loudest “Wait. . . what?” of this post is actually not about Mary.
Yes, Mary was a part of the story, but she was not the main character. She simply had a supporting role. Our main character has always been and will forever be. His name is Jesus who traded heaven for Mary. for Joseph. For the shepherds. For the wisemen. For you. For me.
Wait. . . what? He left the comforts of HEAVEN so that He could rescue us? He could have come as His rightful self– KING– with His angel army, wearing His crown of glory and sporting His magnificent robes, but instead He came as a baby, born in a stable, owning nothing, and having nothing other than a young mother and father who knew then what everyone else in history would learn: God in flesh had arrived. Why would He have chosen this way to enter?
We know based on history that He never does anything the way we imagine He would. This is another fine example that His ways are truly never our ways. And when we are tempted to argue our case before Him when the human experience seems too much to bare, He is able to say, “I know how you feel, for I felt that exact emotion.” The burning pain that a skinned knee offers to a young child, a broken heart, rejection, hunger, thirst, betrayal, mockery, loneliness, tiredness, frustration, anger, disappointment. . . . the list of emotions goes on and on and every one was felt by Him. He also was able to experience the tender care of a mother, the closeness of friendship, happiness and laughter, excitement, anticipation, and love– pure love. He is fully God, but also fully human (which came by Him entering the scene as a baby and growing up human).
But His main purpose for coming was to die a horrific, humiliating, painful death so that He could be the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins. Prior to this, animals (without blemish) and their blood were offered to God as a way to receive forgiveness. For thousands of years, this was done periodically. The problem was that this was a never-ending cycle because even on our best day, we will fall prey to sin. So perfection came in human form, trading heaven so that He could be the ultimate and final sacrifice for every sin we’ve ever committed and every sin we ever will commit. By His blood, we received freedom. By His blood, we received redemption. By His blood, we received eternity. It is a gift He offers to each of us.
And because it is a gift, we have to receive it. Wait. . . what? We have a part to play in this? Yes. Imagine Jesus holding a beautifully wrapped box and holding it out for you to receive. He is not going to force you to take it, but He has purchased it and wrapped it just for you. If you choose to receive it, then it becomes yours. That’s how gifts work. And when you take that gift that Jesus offers, not only will you receive forgiveness, righteousness, and an eternity with Him, you will receive a relationship with the King of kings who promises to do life with you if you invite Him along. And you will begin to walk different. Live different. Love different. Be different.
That gift that you choose to receive not only changes your eternal future, but it changes your present life too because now you are being directed by the One who has always been and will always be. His name is Jesus.
You, Mustard Seed Girl, are not all too different from Mary. You too are unique because God chose you! You have found favor with Him. If you haven’t accepted the beautiful gift that He purchased specifically for you, please reach out and receive it with thankfulness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series! I can’t wait to launch the next one. . . stay tuned!