Mary, Did You Know?

I know you will find this hard to believe, but occasionally, I have a ridiculous thought. One such thought I've had recently, which I'm a little embarrassed to admit, goes something like: How many times can we read/preach/teach about the Christmas story before there's just not a whole lot new to learn? Well, obviously the reason that thought is so ridiculous is that God's Word is living and active. And when something is living and active, it has things to say.

So, we're going through a new Advent book this year as a family, and a few days ago, we talked about The Magnificat. That's a big, fancy word for Mary's Song. It's found in Luke 1 and is a beautiful picture of Mary's heart at a very pivotal time in her life. There is another song to do with Mary that you'll probably hear this Christmas season, if you haven't already. You're so did you guess I'd eventually get around to talking about "Mary, Did You Know?" It's a beautiful song as well, and it always appeals to my heart as a mother.

What has struck me about Mary in all of this singing that's been going on in my head is a new way of thinking of her. I've always thought of her remarkable reaction to Gabriel's announcement of her very unique pregnancy as a statement of submission and surrender. "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." I've always thought that Mary must have been a little stressed or at least disappointed at the change of plans God had for her life. I mean, I'm just guessing, but I'm thinking Mary never laid in bed at night, thinking, "Yep, I hope this whole marriage with Joseph thing doesn't work out and instead I get to have God's Child." That's not typically a topic of thought for many sane people as far as I know. She had a wedding and a life all planned out, as we women usually do, and then Gabriel just swooped in and threw a bit of a wrench into the whole thing. So, in my selfish humanity, I've always figured Mary must have had a few doubts, questions, or slight objections that she had to put aside in order to submit to God's newly revealed plan.

But this time, in reading this whole dramatic turn of events in this young girl's life, the statement that has stuck out to me is Elizabeth's. Keep in mind that Elizabeth was herself pregnant and her husband was having a bit of a problem with his vocal chords. His reaction to the angel's announcement of an unconventional pregnancy in his household was a little different than Mary's. It went a little more like, "Yeah, right. And how do you expect me to believe that?" His consequence for his reaction was nine months of quiet time with God to develop his faith a little bit.

The contrast between the two reactions led me to Elizabeth's statement about Mary. "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Mary's submission and surrender was not born out of a begrudging, disappointed spirit. Mary surrendered to God's plan so easily because of her belief. Her unwavering faith. She believed that God's plans would be way better than anything she had lined up. She didn't say, "God, are you sure? I mean, Joseph will never marry me now. I'll be disgraced. Who will support me? I can't exactly go out and get a job, you know. What good will it be to let me have your child only for both of us to starve? Do you really want your Son growing up with a single mom and shunned by society? And, oh yeah, how will He even get here once I'm stoned to death for my supposed infidelity? God, did you really think this through?"

How many times do we think our plans are better...or at least more fun? How many times do we wish God would just listen to us? Or how many times do we doubt that things are going to turn out for the best...or turn out at all? Sure, we say Jeremiah 29:11 like it's going out of style, but do our lives reflect a real belief in the goodness of God's plans and His faithfulness to fulfill them? When I have bill upon bill come my way, don't I immediately question, "Why?" and "How?" When my kid throws up in the car, throwing our traveling and Christmas plans into question, there I go again: "Seriously, God?" When God asks me to speak in front of a bunch of people, yet isn't very forthcoming with His message, do I start to panic? When I pray for Him to change people's hearts, do I believe it can or will happen? And, last time I checked, those were tiny issues compared with what Mary was facing. But what did she do? She sang.

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..." It wasn't hard for her to trust Him, because she knew Him. He was her source of joy and hope way before Gabriel ever made his grand entrance. Her life was about glorifying God, no matter how that looked, and she believed He knew the best way for her to do that. She believed. It is so simple, yet so difficult. We look at our circumstances and it's all about us. We can't see what He's doing all laid out before us, so we question. God Almighty's plans don't make sense to our pea brains, so we immediately figure He must have made a little mistake or miscalculation. Yes, God, you created the Universe, but I'm pretty sure You can't handle this whole house payment thing I've got going on.

Mary wasn't only believing God's plans for her. She was believing His plans for the nation of Israel. She was believing that He was going to fulfill His promises to Abraham, despite the fact that hundreds of years had gone by, and no Savior had yet appeared. She took God at His word and rejoiced that she got to play any little part in His plan for the redemption of Israel and all mankind. She got the fact that I must be reminded of every day. "Hey, sister. This show called life ain't about you!" She lived to magnify the Lord, and if that meant trusting Him through an unplanned pregnancy which no one in their right mind would believe her story about, then so be it.

Did Mary know? As she gazed at the baby in her arms, did she know all the things Jesus would do? Did she know what His life - and His death - would look like? Did she know the details of what God would do and how He would do it? No. God didn't treat her any differently than He does us. He tells us what we need to know, when we need to know it, and nothing else. He required her to walk by faith, just as He does us. She didn't know that she would one day stand on a hill watching her innocent Son be tortured and killed. But, I guarantee you, even in that moment as she watched Him die, she believed.

How? How could she believe? The secret is in her song. Her words speak of what God had already done. She knew His character and His deeds which proved His character, and she reminded herself of them. She remembered what He had done in the nation of Israel and she looked at what He'd done in her own life. If He had chosen a young, humble, poor girl from the backside of nowhere to give birth to His Son and if He could have that birth take place in a stable with only shepherds as witnesses, then He could certainly bring about the salvation of mankind through a crucifixion. Mary knew that it didn't matter one iota if God's plans made sense to her or not. He is God, and that is enough.

Mary, did you know? Yes. She knew. She knew that God is good and He will do what He says He will do. And she lived like it. Her life was not one of reluctant surrender but one of glorifying the Lord and rejoicing in Him.


  1. This is awesome insight! So true.

  2. Loved it! The wheels are turning. I'll talk to you tomorrow!


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