Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Did Mary Know?

I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian family.  I knew the story and songs about the virgin Mary wayyyyyyyy before I ever understood what a virgin even was.  However, I think that I finally came to understand the depth of the birth of Jesus ten years ago when I gave birth to my first son.  I went into his birth pretty cocky -- I had a 19 month old daughter and was doing well balancing work and raising her.  I thought I had motherhood in the bag.  Then in the delivery room during a quiet moment with my son, I realized that I had to not just raise him to be a decent person, but I had to help him become a man -- and this was a much more daunting task than raising a girl. 

Then as I marveled over his tiny features and his headful of dark black hair, I begin to think of another baby boy.  One who was born 2000 years before.  And I thought of the Christmas carol, "Mary Did You Know?"  Did she?

Think about it.  Here's Mary, at probably 13 or 14, who gets approached by an angel (scary), is told that she is to have a baby -- before she's married to her betrothed (scarier -- in her society, she could have been stoned to death), and that this child would be the son of God (scariest).  Wow!  What an enormous privilege -- but what an overwhelming responsibility.  I cannot imagine being faced with that enormity.

The privilege part is that she had the blessing of carrying the baby.  She was the first to feel His tiny butterfly movements in her womb. She was the first to feel His kicks to her ribs and bladder as He grew.  She was the one to feel the back pain and pangs of labor as He entered into the world in His human form.  She was the one to nestle Him to her breast and kiss His sweet, soft brow.  She was the one who was up with Him at 3 A.M.  She was the one who saw His adorable first smiles, and tooth, and tottering steps.  We are all blessed with raising children of God, but she birthed God's only begotten son.  Was she not in awe at every move He made?

The Scripture tells us in Luke 1: 32 that Gabriel told Mary that the baby she carried would 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."  Mary realized the honor in this calling.  In verse 49 of Luke 1, she said, "for the Mighty One has done great things for me -- holy is his name."

But in that moment, did she realize that her son, begotten from the one and only true God, would be the Messiah?  The carol lyrics questions rather Mary was aware of the miracles that Jesus would perform --giving sight to the blind, walking on water-- but it also asks if she knew that He had come to be a deliverer.  And did she understand that this child was indeed the Messiah; could she have ever fathomed what He would truly endure to be that deliverer.

As she kissed His brow and wiped His cheek, did she know that one day He would be horribly ridiculed, arrested and beaten, and hanged from a cross to deliver the people of the world of their sins.  I doubt that in her earthly mind, she could look at her newborn and know the entirety of the story or the importance that He held for eternity.  But God did.  He knew long before He ever allowed Jesus to become a seed in Mary's womb exactly what the end would be like.  What a sacrifice!  Do we truly comprehend and appreciate that?

I think not.  I would not allow my son to die for the sins of anyone  -- especially not the thieving, lying, murderous heathens of the world that I don't even know.  But God in His awesomeness gave that to us.  We are all His children and He loves each of us.  Thankfully, because of God's sacrifice, my son doesn't even have to die for his own sins.  He's accepted Jesus as his Savior. So when his time comes to leave this lowly life on earth, he will reign forever with the One who made it all possible.

I enter these last few days of preparation of our celebration of Jesus's birth in absolute awe.  Please take a moment and think of the sacrifice that was made for you.