Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Highs and Lows

"But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was." Luke 1:28

Before this verse in Luke 1, all we know about Mary was that she was an engaged virgin who lived in Nazareth. Those three words, engaged, virgin and Nazareth, is enough information for you to grab your Bible dictionary and dig deeper into understanding exactly who Mary was. But I want to move on to two other words that stuck out in verse 28 - perplexed and pondering.

Often when an angel appears to men, the response is flat-on-your-face fear, but Mary has a completely different response - curiosity and confusion. The next words that the angel speaks are "Do not be afraid," so perhaps there was some fear mixed in, but you don't see Mary fall on the ground and cry out, "Woe is me, for I am a woman of unclean lips!" or become as a dead man from fear. I have often wondered why she wasn't more frightened and I think it is because God is so kind hearted that He didn't want to scare the living daylights out of her - so the angel's appearance, though definitely supernatural, was comforting rather than frightening. Just my thoughts on that one...

By the way, did you notice when Zacharias questioned the possibility of his wife becoming pregnant that the angel responded with discipline, but when Mary asks how she could be pregnant since she was virgin, the angel responded in a kind explanation? Just interesting, wouldn't you say?

Back to the topic - here we find Mary thoughtful and contemplating. Jump now to Luke 1:45-55. Mary responds to Elizabeth's declaration about her pregnancy with praise to the Lord. Now remember, Mary is an engaged, pregnant woman - this was not socially acceptable and actually rather difficult to explain. But she keeps her eyes on God and humbly praises Him for His work in her life and His plan for the world. Again, I think Mary was a deep thinker - she isn't a reactor but a responder. There's a difference...think about it...

Next we see her in Bethlehem, tending her newborn in a manger, having visitors within hours of His birth, strangers, no less, and what is her response? Luke 2:19 tells us "...but Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart..." Again, a deep thinker. Mulling it over. Treasuring it. Pondering it. What comes to mind with the picture we are seeing of this young woman? I think of God's description of a godly woman: a gentle and quiet spirit. Do you see it?

One last snapshot - forty plus days after Jesus' birth (8 days old He was circumcised and then her purification was about 33 more days), Mary and Joseph take Him to be presented to the Lord in Jerusalem and offer a sacrifice according to the Law on His behalf. They are met by an aged man who speaks a prophecy over Jesus: "And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed - and a sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2:34,35)

Wow. Every mother's dream prophecy, wouldn't you say? Mary's response is not recorded, but with everything we have learned about her previously, what do you think her response would be? Was she angry at this old man? Did she pull her child out of his arms and storm away? Did she cry herself to sleep and blame Joseph for not protecting her and the baby from this stranger? Did she react?

Or did she respond? Did she hold her baby and look into His tiny, little eyes and ponder this prophecy, knowing God was completely in control? Did she shed a tear, thinking that this Child's destiny was out of her control but His care and protection were temporarily in her hands? Was she perplexed? Did this information go into that treasure box of wonders full of miracles?

Highs and lows. The highs of affirmation of God's plan with the arrival of the scruffy, crazy-eyed shepherds who fell on their faces and worshipped the One that she knew was God. The lows of not even two months later having the reality of His destiny cut deep through her heart. And her response? I think the same because of her character.

Mary was a young woman to have such character and I am confident that the day Jesus died, she was even more mature than the day He was born. Ladies, Mary's choice to respond to God rather than react to life is an example for us today. She was certainly not perfect, but she was chosen for an incredible task.

Oh, to be a woman of great character, one whom God would choose to use in an incredible way! God desires that gentle and quiet spirit in each one of us, and He has shown us that it is possible to be that woman whether we find ourselves in the highs or lows of life.

So...there are some of my thoughts. Are there any you would like to share, having read Luke 1 and 2?


  1. Mary had a large view of God. You can see it in her words after Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed her. She recounted the mighty deeds of the Lord. What came spilling forth from her lips was evidence of what she spent her time thinking about.

    Taking the time every day to think about the Lord and His mighty deeds in our lives and in the lives of those around us and in the lives of those who have gone before us is a great faith (and character) builder. Praise then just naturally falls from our lips, like it did with Mary.

    Responding to God (in faith) rather than reacting to life…oh that we could do that each and every time adversity crosses our path!

  2. Imagine what an advantage we have, with the complete revelation of God in our hands every day! Mary didn't have anything like that, and yet her thoughts reveal her heart. How much more equipped should we be to be able to think on Him and speak of Him...

    Thanks, Kathy...

  3. I personally am amazed how Mary could handle all the ridicules she must've gotten. I mean, she was hardly older then me! thinking about having a baby at my age and not really knowing how to explain it to my parents...she must've tried every day to maintain an attitude appealing to the Lord. I think that God chose her because he knew that she was one of the only virgins able to withstand the pressure. I would've cracked, I won't lie. I wish I could have more of an attitude like hers sometimes.

  4. Hi Daisy!!!!!!!!!! It is so nice to see you posting here..and wise thoughtful words too!

    So here are my thoughts after completing my assignment....

    When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he called her favored one and told her the Lord was with her. Her reaction (perplexed and pondering this greeting) tells me she is humble in spirit and knows her sinful heart. I think too often, we as believers can become haughty and think more highly of ourselves than we ought. It would not be too hard to imagine feeling a bit self righteous and proud... that you must be really spiritual to receive a greeting like that! But Mary, she's perplexed and keeps wondering why she would be greeted like that.

    Kristen, your comment about Zacharias being disciplined while Mary was not made me think and go back and re-read those parts. It seems to me that Zacharias has some doubt.."How will I know this for certain...cuz we're old??" While Mary isn't doubting it will happen or asking for assurance, but is just asking HOW it will happen, since she is a virgin. The angel then goes on to explain the how.."The Holy Spirit will come upon you..."

    In vs. 38 we see that Mary is obedient..and is a slave to righteousness. "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." Wow...she doesn't wrestle with what God's asked of her, complain, try to go her own way, struggle with obedience, pray through the night and finally give in.... Before Gabriel leaves she says, I'm His and I'm all in. Oh that we could all submit to what He asks of us so quickly and fully.

    I thought it was interesting in vs. 41 that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit upon hearing Mary's greeting and with that came knowledge...knowledge that Mary was now the mother of her Lord. Vs.45 also confirms that Mary didn't doubt that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.

    Even when Mary realizes that all generations are going to count her blessed forever, she takes no credit but says it is because of the Mighty One and His mercy...and then she goes on a bit of a teaching rant to Elizabeth!

    Daisy, I do think the Lord picked Mary because she was able to withstand the pressure, but God also provided her a safe haven in that she fled in a hurry to the hill country to be with Elizabeth and stayed there for 3 months. Can you imagine the conversations they must have had during that time? I think the Lord was very merciful to have given Mary those three months with someone who understood what she was going through before she had to return to her home.

    I, too, wrote down in my journal that Mary was a deep thinker. When the shepherds hurried to see the baby and made known the statement which had been told to them..all who heard it wondered at the things which were told to them....You can almost see them turning one to the other and feel the energy and amazement.
    And then it says BUT MARY treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. There is a quiet, calm assurance about this girl.

    Reminds me of Isaiah 30:15
    15For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."

    Off to bed!

  5. For the love, will surprises never cease? Hi, Daisy! Love to hear your thoughts, and I am so proud of you - there was no mention of pizza, pants or Fleck! You are really growing up...

    Thanks, Beth, for your thoughts as well. It's a good exercise to walk in the sandals of Bible characters, especially women - I think we can mull over her circumstances and even relate at times...but I am so grateful for the information we are given about her. I can't even imagine what raising Jesus as a child would have been like...maybe when we get to heaven there will be Women's Conferences where Mary shares with us her experience - I'll bet there's even heavenly video! Look for me in the front row...

  6. Was it Mary's calm and humble demeanor after being visited and told she would bear a child, or is it a reflection of having a complete love, faith and trust in God to begin with? I see her as responding only as a person who has great devotion to the Lord, one which is all-encompassing, before-hand...