Tag Archives: Mary

Different Views of Christmas

Given the opportunity to have a conversation with one of the characters from the Christmas account, who would you choose? I was recently asked this question, and it spurred my thinking. The people starring in Jesus’ birth story would have witnessed the events from a wide array of perspectives, yet we see much faith shine through each perspective.

Mary

Mary obviously plays a crucial role, being the young mother of Jesus. This would have been a lot for her to take on, but she does in a faithful way. Luke records the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to reveal her part in God’s grand plan. Luke 1:28 says, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

After reassuring Mary his visit was to bring good news, Gabriel explained how she would be the mother of Jesus, and reminded Mary God can do anything. Mary was an ordinary girl, but she was given an extraordinary part to play in God’s plan. We know she inquired about the virgin birth, but we can only imagine what else went through Mary’s mind’ as she listened to the angel’s words.

She would have to explain this to Joseph. A pregnancy can’t be easily hidden, and people would speculate about her as they would not understand what the Lord was doing. This would have been a lot for Mary to process, and she may have not fully grasped it, but because of her faith, Mary was willing to offer herself as a servant. She realized fulfilling her purpose would have rough parts, but she trusted the Lord to be with her during those times. 

Joseph

Joseph would have to take on much in his role. Joseph was certainly put in a unique spot. Hisfiance was pregnant, but the baby wasn’t his. As Joseph was struggling with what to do, he was faithful to the Lord’s calling. Matthew 1 tells us Joseph was going to divorce Mary, but listened when the Lord told him to stay. Joseph’s response in this moment truly demonstrates his faithfulness.

Shepherds

The shepherds could have stayed in the field with their sheep and dismissed the angel’s message, but they had a different response. “When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

The shepherds responded to the angel with much faith. Believing the angel, the shepherds acted upon their belief. The shepherds’ faith shined through brightly.

Magi

The Magi allowed their faith to push them. As they were studying the stars, they could have ignored the star introducing Jesus as another supernova, but they chose to seek the answer to why the star suddenly appeared. Their faith pushed them to investigate God’s Word.

Each of these characters has a different perspective of Jesus’ birth, but they all respond with much faith. As we all approach life from differing perspectives, we should share this commonalty with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi. We should approach the Lord with faith. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord rewards those who earnestly seek him.

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Less Than Ideal

The census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but a Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. This “less than ideal” situation is the last place we would expect God to work, but he did some mighty work.

There are many “less than ideal” situations in life, yet God works through them.

  • It is less than ideal when we feel all alone in a moment of life. We find ourselves amid a life season we don’t think anyone else could even begin to understand, yet God does. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus understands, and he is able to help us in our time of need. It may not be a perfect season, but God is still working.
  • It may be a season where you feel absolutely alone. No family close, so you’re just mingling around your house by yourself. You’re not really alone though; God is there. Hebrews 13:5 tells us the Lord will never leave us; he will never forsake us. Even when we are alone, the Lord is there with us and he is working.
  • Maybe your heartbroken and devastated. Your marriage ended as your spouse walked in and said, “I’m done.” Psalm 34:18 reminds us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and heals those who are crushed in spirit.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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The Extent of God’s Love

A census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

Christmas shows the extent of God’s love. The Lord has such a sacrificial love for you and I that he came to us.

The Gospel of John reminds us the Lord became human and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14), and we know from the Bible, he gave up much to come be with us. Philippians 2 says Jesus did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but he gave it up in humility so he could be with us. All this out of love; John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save it.”

You see, Christmas is the result of God’s love. It demonstrates how close the Lord will come to help us. He is right beside us helping us.

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a faithful response

She was a common girl. She wasn’t extravagantly rich or excessively poor. She just belonged to the group of common folks. Life seemed to be going well. She was engaged and her wedding was coming up. Mary had no idea of the direction her life was about to go.

Gabriel’s Visit

Luke records the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to reveal her part in God’s grand plan. Luke 2:28 says, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

After reassuring Mary his visit was to bring good news, Gabriel explained how she would be the mother of Jesus, and reminded Mary God can do anything. Mary was an ordinary girl, but she was given an extraordinary part to play in God’s plan. We know she inquired about the virgin birth, but we can only imagine what else went through Mary’s mind’ as she listened to the angel’s words.

She would have to explain this to Joseph. A pregnancy can’t be easily hidden, and people would speculate about her as they would not understand what the Lord was doing. This would have been a lot for Mary to process, and she may have not fully grasped it.

Mary’s Response

In spite of these thoughts, Mary listened intently to God’s plan, and note her response in Luke 2:38. “I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered, ‘may your word to me be fulfilled.”

Because of her faith, Mary was willing to offer herself as a servant. She realized fulfilling her purpose would have rough parts, but she trusted the Lord to be with her during those times. There were rough parts, and the Lord was with her during those times.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us Joseph had in mind to quietly divorce Mary when he found out about the pregnancy. It was only because the Lord stopped Joseph in a dream that he did not continue with his idea of divorce. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Mary’s family had to flee to Egypt to save the young child. It was the prompting of the Lord which caused the family to go; it was the work of the Lord which kept Mary’s family safe. Being Jesus’ mom certainly had its rough parts, but the Lord stayed with Mary.

Our Purpose

Our purpose may not be in the spotlight like Mary’s, but our lives do have a purpose in God’s plan. Like Mary, we may encounter rough parts to fulfilling our purpose, but the Lord will help us. His grace has given us favor. The Lord is with us. Are we with him?

Ask God to help you discover your purpose and to give you the courage and strength to pursue it. Try responding like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May his word be fulfilled.”

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god can do anything

We are all better prepared to do some things. Some things are better handled by a doctor. Brain surgery should never be performed by an auto mechanic. One parent is usually better at soothing a hurting child than another. Some tasks should be left for those individuals who are best prepared to accomplish them.

When it comes to “impossible” dreams or events, it is best to leave those things for God. God’s ability to do anything was once again on display during the first Christmas.

Power on Display

“How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the Holy One to be born will be called 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 unable to conceive, is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail,” records Luke 1:34-37.

Mary’s faith helped her to see the events foretold by Gabriel would happen. She just isn’t sure how they will unfold. After all, a virgin does not have a baby. That is, unless God is involved. Gabriel explains how Mary will conceive, then to boost her faith, he points to Elizabeth. “No one thought Elizabeth would have a baby, but she’s pregnant. In fact, she is already in her sixth month. Nothing is impossible with God.”

Nothing is Impossible

It has been said Luke 1:37 is the most reassuring verse in Scripture. When God is involved, nothing is impossible. There is no challenge too great for God. The events leading up to Jesus’ birth help us see this point. Preparing the world for Christ’s arrival, Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and Mary conceiving as a virgin are all illustrations of God doing the impossible. God can do anything.

What are your goals? What are your biggest dreams? Nothing is impossible for God. Ask God what he desires for you to do and for the abilities to get it done. God can do anything.

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