“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel…” (Isaiah 7:14)
“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.’” (Luke 1:30-31)
And in just a few words, so begins the story of eternity’s most unique and most important birth — the birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Messiah, Savior.
The leading lady of the story is a young girl named Mary. We don’t know a lot about her; she was from the Jewish tribe of Judah and could trace her heritage back to King David. Her age? Most scholars estimate between 14 and 18 years of age. I personally believe she was about 16, according to the marriage custom of the day.
We know she was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. She was sexually pure, and by reading the story in Luke, she was an exceptionally godly young woman.
One could surmise that she learned the Torah and the Prophets, probably from godly parents. And there was something in her character and being that God found outstanding and so she, among all the young virgins of the day, “found favor” with God and was selected to be the mother of our Savior.
After being shocked at the appearing of an angel, as any of us would also be, and blown away by the pronouncement of the upcoming birth, her response is what I think gave God the impetus to select her. There is no shadow of doubt about God; she quickly and willingly gave herself humbly to His desire: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38)
The process began as the Holy Spirit fertilized her egg and the Savior was conceived…100 percent God, 100 percent man. Growing inside her as a holy embryo, His formation and birth was “normal.” And in that stable, Mary cradled God, the man, in her arms.
Of the next 30 years, we know little of Mary or of Jesus. At eight days of age, she took Him to the temple and there Simeon told her, “a sword will pierce through your own soul also,” a dire prediction of His death.
Christ was raised to be a carpenter. His parents maintained their Jewish traditions and Jesus and His siblings lived what was undoubtedly a fairly normal life in the village of Nazareth.
But then things changed when the time came for Him to accept His ministry on earth. And Mary heard the stories of her Son, followed and ministered to Him as she could, and then witnessed His death, burial and resurrection. All of the prophecies had come true. And the work of salvation, that same work that saves you and me, saved Mary as she declared her Son to be her Savior.
What happened to her we don’t know. Perhaps she returned to Nazareth, perhaps she lived with one of her other children until her death… the Bible is mute on the subject. But without question, the words of John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, ring true this Christmas as they did 2,000 years ago: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42).
“Mary did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.
“Mary did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your Baby Boy will calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby, you kiss the face of God.
“The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again. The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.
“Mary did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? That sleeping child you’re holding in the great I AM!” (Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene)