Summary: For Mary and Joseph their suffering for Jesus came before He was even born. It continued as they accepted the gift of being his earthly parents.
Mary s Journey
This second week of Advent I want to look at Mary and her journey to Bethlehem. Last week we learned that Jesus traveled the furthest to be in Bethlehem for He left heaven to descend to earth in bodily form. But what of Marys journey?
We in the Protestant churches have some difficulty in how we recognize and acknowledge Mary. I think this is due in part to our vehement reaction to The Cult of Mary as built by the Roman Catholic Church.
We know that scripture does not regard Mary as anything other than a human being who happened to be a descendant of the right family line at the right time and place in history and that she was devout in her Jewish faith oh yes and she was a virgin.
That much we can all agree on. Suffice it to say that the blasphemy put forward by the Roman Catholic Church in recognizing Mary as a fourth member of the God-head is just wrong and is indeed a serious blasphemy.
So then what is Marys true place in our Christian church?
She does have a unique place of honor being selected by God to birth Jesus.
Scripture does give her recognition of being blessed among women for accepting Gods call.
Her place is one chosen by God.
Her place is one of humility.
Her place is one of obedience.
Her place is ultimately a place of servitude.
She is being used as a vessel to bring Jesus Christ into the world she does not assume any of His deity by being the person to birth the Lord. But she gets to share in the life of Jesus as no other women will.
Let us look to Gods word to see just where Mary fits into the Christian church as we journey with her to Bethlehem. We discover she is the daughter of God fearing parents whose lineage can be traced back to King David in Luke Chapter three.
She is engaged to be married to a carpenter named Joseph who is also a member of a God fearing family and is as well a descendant of King David. They have been pledged to each other and their year of engagement has begun. Everything is going along fine until the angel Gabriel shows up.
The last time we heard from Gabriel was some 600 plus years ago in the book of Daniel. Gabriel only shows up for very important announcements and this was one of them. In Luke Chapter 1:28 he begins to make his acquaintance with Mary. He says Greetings you who are highly favored the Lord is with you. Do not be afraid Mary you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son.
Here we learn that there is a lot that Mary is told will happen, not what might happen or could happen but things that God WILL make happen in fact she is even told what name to give the child.
But in accepting all this there are some real pluses. The child, Gabriel says will be great and will be called the son of the most high. He will sit on the throne of David and rule over the House of Jacob forever and His kingdom will never end.
Mary responds to all this by reminding Gabriel that she is a virgin. What Mary doesnt know is that is a very important requirement if scripture is to be fulfilled from Isaiah 7:14.
In all of this supernatural exchange Mary responds by saying I am the Lords servant. She is then told about her much older cousin Elizabeth who is already six months pregnant. The same Elizabeth who was thought to be barren.
Wow thats a lot to take in on one day. Mary who is probably about 16 years old finds out she is going to give birth to Gods son even though she is a virgin and that her cousin who had longed for a child is finally expecting one. She just had to tell someone and she had to see for herself just what was happening to her cousin if anything.
She meets Elizabeth and immediately Elizabeths baby jumps for joy. Then Elizabeth makes an announcement Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Then Elizabeth goes on to say Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.
Then Mary breaks out in what is called the Magnificat (Latin) for the first word of her song.
Now this isnt the first time a woman broke out in song to God when she found out she was pregnant. The bible says that Hannah did a similar thing when she found out she was expecting Samuel in the Old Testament.