The Advent season is a time of anticipation, waiting, and preparation. During the month of December, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages and characters connected with the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us.
If you are a parent, then you know the beauty of watching a little life grow. You know what it is to mold character and hone skill, and to share afternoon cuddles and races around the house. And although some days are long, you know, deep down, they are some of the sweetest you will ever see.
Now imagine, if you will, yourself on the journey of the parent in today’s Scripture: Mary, whom God the Father chose to parent a most unique child.
READ THE WORD: LUKE 1:26-56 (ESV)
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.30 And 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 bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
RESPOND TO GOD
You’re an unassuming, somewhat ordinary teenager—albeit engaged to be married—when the angel Gabriel appears to you. Through his celestial greeting, you learn you’re highly favored of the Lord.
And you are troubled by these words.
As Gabriel assuages your uncertainty, he goes on to explain God’s plan: you will conceive a son and call him Jesus, Son of the Most High, and he’ll reign on David’s throne forever. Being a virgin, this is hard to fathom; so, by way of solidarity, he informs you that your cousin Elizabeth, who’s old enough to be your grandmother, is also pregnant. The intended message: Nothing is impossible with God.
And you, defined by your willing service, sign on.
Then, you quickly make your way to Elizabeth’s house. Such wisdom she has. She knows! She affirms! She blesses you and the child within you, and your fears give way to praise and adoration.
And you stay with her for as long as you can.
But all too soon, decrees are given, hometowns departed, journeys made. With belly in full bloom, you go to a place you’ve never been, to do a thing you’ve never done, to observe a group you’ve never met, and to bow before the babe now wrapped warmly and securely by your side. You listen, as shepherds recount, while the light of the most significant star illumines the scene.
And you take all this in and hide it deep, way down in your heart.
Mere days later, you present this precious child at the temple, where Simeon, a God-fearing man, prays over him and proclaims he sees the salvation of Israel, and of all mankind, in the face of your sweet boy.
And you marvel.
But he goes on to say that the little one you cradle is destined to be a figure misunderstood, spoken against, and rejected. And that you, dear mother, will feel great pain thrust through your own soul.
Now… Imagine how parental challenges like helping children conquer homework, navigate relationships, or learn the art of good decision making would pale in comparison to watching your son suffer and breathe death for the whole of humanity.