In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. (Luke 1. 26-38)
I wonder what Mary thought when the angel approached her, informing her that she was to conceive a child of the Holy Spirit. What ran through her mind when she was told that she was to name him Jesus and that He would be the son of the most High. That His kingdom would never end? What could her thoughts have been at the age of 16- young and unwed?
I know she ultimately said, “Be it unto me as you have said”. An amazing response that I find that to be extremely significant… knowing that it was not ok to be pregnant before marriage in the Judaic culture, knowing that her fiancé had never touched her intimately and wasn’t the father and knowing how it would sound to announce that her baby was in fact Jesus, the Messiah, the incarnate of God… she responded in sheer surrender and obedience. Do unto me as you’ve planned!
But before she responded in that Godly manner… she hesitated. She feared. She questioned. Just like you and I would have. After all, she was a 16 year old girl engaged to be married. I don’t know about you but when I was 16 it was no walk in the park. I can still remember highschool and the trials of fitting in. I remember being disliked for the day if my hair wasn’t ‘just right’ or if I didn’t wear the right clothes. It was a time where fitting in meant everything and I did whatever I needed to keep the social status. But here is, Mary- being told she was about to go against everything the traditions of the day stated. What could she say? Who could she tell?
I like that, in her confused state, she asked Gabriel how this could be as she was still a virgin. I like that Luke included her questioning of Gabriel in his account. It confirms to me that for a moment, she was in fact a confused teenager in need of some answers. I like that in that moment… Mary is not some elevated figure to which to pray or praise but a girl I can relate to. Though I would venture to say that were the account in Luke to have included the name Chelle, it wouldn’t be a sentence… it wouldn’t be one question… but a chapter. And it likely would’ve started with, “Are you freaking KIDDING me? Clearly you have the WRONG virgin”
Surely my similarities with Mary end with her fears and uncertainties… No chance I would have responded to an encounter with God’s will in the manner she did. No chance I would have been able to acknowledge a situation I could hardly understand and instantly respond, “Be it unto me as you have said” But as I’ve pointed out, that is no doubt why Luke recounts the story of Mary and not Chelle.
And yet, here we are 2000 years later, like Mary, encountering God’s will daily. We are given opportunities every day to choose our responses. And though no encounter with God’s will that we will face will ever be as dramatic as what Mary faced with the birth of Jesus… ONE choice we make is equally significant. One encounter with God in our lives as important and life altering. The moment where we are confronted with accepting or rejecting that Son born to a virgin 2000 years ago.
I don’t know where each of you stands with God today. But in this moment, right now, His desire is to know each and every one of us personally. And His plan to accomplish and restore that relationship includes His son, Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus was not an ordinary baby. Out of God’s great love for us, out of our need for a savior, Christ came to this earth and became a man so that He could reunite mankind with God.
He lived a sinless life on earth and paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross. Three days later, He rose from the dead—proving that He is God. All who trust in Him and believe in His death, burial, and resurrection have access into Heaven and an eternal relationship with the Father. That’s why He came and that’s why we now celebrate His birth at Christmas—because "a baby has been born to us. He is Christ the Lord" and "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
I pray this Christmas that you would know God in this way. That if you haven't already, you would receive Christ into your heart and walk in the knowledge that your future in Him is certain.
If your desire is a relationship with God- this short prayer, or one like it in your own words will guarantee you just that. “Lord Jesus, You came to Earth, in human form 2000 years ago because I am a sinner. I know that You are God and that You died to pay for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead, proving You are God. Thank You, Jesus, for dying for me. Right now, in the best way I know how, I ask You to be my Lord, my Savior, and my God. Help me now to live for You. Amen.”