Monday, December 23, 2013

In Her Sandals -- Lessons Learned from Mary

Elizabeth is in her last trimester, and Mary is in her first. Elizabeth has kept to herself mostly, and we don’t know if Mary has told anyone about her pregnancy either. Elizabeth confirms what the angel told Mary. That had to be so reassuring to this young, teen, unwed mom-to-be. Mary would have helped Elizabeth the three months she was there. We don’t know if she was there for John’s birth, but some speculate she was in order to help with the delivery. 

When Mary returns home, she is through with her first trimester. The morning sickness may have subsided. Considering her age, people may not have known she was pregnant until the seventh or eighth month. I know if I were in her sandals, I’d be concerned during that time about how things were going to play out. That’s at least five months of considering every possible outcome. Nothing was within her control. We saw in her conversation with the angel that Mary is a thinker. Like most women, she thinks about what was spoken to her, about her or her baby, and about the things going on around her. So, it only stands to reason that she thought about the repercussions of this unexpected pregnancy.

At some point her pregnancy is discovered by her family. Mary’s family is never mentioned. No conversations with her mom and dad are recorded, but I think about what that conversation would have been like if I had to have it with my parents. I wonder what my response would be to my daughter telling me this story. Someone is delegated to tell Joseph the news, or the news spreads to Joseph. Word got around even back then. There’s a reason God chose Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly father. He was of noble character and faith.

In contrast to Mary who actually sees an angel, Joseph is led by an angel in a series of dreams over the next several years. Joseph listens and obeys. He submits his doubt and concern to the Lord, and follows the instructions provided. The relief that Mary must have felt had to have been great. He immediately takes Mary from her father’s home to make her his wife, and they begin their travel to Bethlehem. They really haven’t spent any time with each other up to this point, so this trip provided them plenty of opportunity to get to know one another. Don’t you know Mary had to be so relieved when Joseph told her about his dream!? Surely they compared notes about what they had been told. I wonder if they dreamed dreams for Jesus.

We don’t know if Mary walked to Bethlehem, rode a donkey or a cart. The Bible doesn’t say. Check it out. But by the time she would have made it to Bethlehem, she had to have been exhausted. Then Mary and Joseph had to go door-to-door looking for a place to stay. Think of a woman, late in pregnancy, hormones coursing through her body having traveled 90 miles or so, and now there’s no place to prop up her swollen ankles and feet or rest her back. Do you think you might have a woman on the edge of collapse? If she isn’t crying, she is on the verge.

Finally they are led to the area where the manager of the inn keeps his animals. A lot of times, this was like a cave or in the cleft of a rock. It’s not a nice barn or something like that. It’s dark. It may be dank. It certainly smells, and this is where she has to give birth. Nothing sanitary or sterile about this place. We don’t know how long they were there when she finally gives birth, but don’t you know that was an eye-opening experience for Joseph and Mary. Think about the first time you were in the delivery room – what you saw, heard, smell. Mary gives birth to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and is placed in a manger. My daddy pointed out that while it seems like the most unlikely place for Jesus to be born that it was the only place He could be born because the King of Kings came first to be the bread of life for mankind. Just as the animals went to the manger to eat and get nutrients, so do we go to Christ to get our sustenance.

Do you know that Luke never references the star? We get that gem from Matthew. We know it’s been in the sky for about two years when the Magi arrive, so we know it was in the sky when the shepherds came. It’s an assumption that people make, but I doubt they know why. I would have loved to have seen Joseph’s face when the shepherds told them of the angels and the star. You know he had to go out and see it immediately. I wonder how many times Mary took Jesus out at night and pointed at the star.

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