When you think of the Christmas story, what do you think of?
Usually we jump straight to the couple looking for a room, no hotels available, some shepherds and angels sing praises, and Jesus is born, O Holy Night, then somehow we tie Santa and the day after Christmas sale at Target into that. But, there's a whole story within itself we often overlook that happens before Mary and Joseph end up it Bethlehem and the Messiah is born.
It all starts with Mary:
Jewish girls had been waiting for centuries to learn that they would be the mother of the Messiah that the Old Testament prophets wrote about. Isaiah 7:14 prophesies that Jesus would be born of a virgin and belong to the line of King David, so all the lucky Hebrew ladies qualifying were hoping and waiting to get the news that Mary got.
There isn't a lot of background on Mary in the two gospels that tell the story of the birth of Jesus, but there are a lot of key pieces of information about Mary in the angel Gabriel's announcement to her of her upcoming pregnancy with Jesus. In Luke 1:26, Luke explains that Gabriel was sent by God to tell a girl in Nazareth she would be the mother of the Messiah. Nazareth was a very small village known for agriculture, so Mary wasn't coming from the Ritz in Beverly Hills. She was a normal, Jewish girl living her life in a normal, Middle Eastern village. Luke goes on to tell how Gabriel announces the pregnancy in verse 28: "And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus."
Twice Gabriel calls her favored with God, which gives us a lot of insight on this girl's character. Also, Luke includes that Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph, who was in the lineage of David. The other thing we hear a couple of times in this passage is that Mary is a virgin.
Let's pop a tent up here for a second:
This is usually the part where people skip to the part in their Bible that has a picture of a Precious Moments nativity scene, but this is a lot to process. Mary is a normal girl, living her super average life in Galilee. She's highly favored with God, which tells us that she is walking with the Lord and living a really honorable lifestyle. Also, add engaged and soon to be pregnant to the list. And one more thing, she's a virgin, and the person she will grow and carry for nine months is the Son of God.
I really feel like Mary does not get enough credit. If I had just gotten a super overwhelming message from an angel of the Lord, I wish I could say I would be as instantly faithful and brave like Mary was, jumpin all in and trusting God right off the bat, but in all honesty I would probably cry a lot, eat a lot, and say "hey I really need some time to emotionally process all of this for like two weeks if that's okay". But Mary didn't hesitate for a second because she was so confident in God and she knew He would keep his promises to her.
This is a lot of amazing and really frightening information, and it's not from someone you know and are comfortable with, not your mom or grandma or friendly kindergarten teacher, it's from an Angel sent directly from God Himself, I seriously could not even imagine.
The angel came to Mary, he gave her the most wonderful news she would ever hear, she asked how, and when Gabriel told her with God all things are possible, and this woman said sign me up.
That is the essence of a woman of beautiful and noble character. Mary didn't skip a beat because she loved God dearly, with all of her heart, and she knew that if it was in His hands, she was all in. She was going to be a mother, a mother with no husband, carrying a baby that was not her fiance's, and she would be the mom of the Savior of the world. Mary was a normal girl. She wasn't Beth Moore or Mandisa. Jesus loving people didn't know her name world-wide. But Mary had a burning fire for the Lord. She was the one that generations and generations of women had hoped to be. She was the woman who had the honor and privilege that God had picked out, just for her, that no other woman would ever get again. Mary said yes, I'm a servant of the Lord. That's a look at the woman behind the Savior.