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?