Capturing a Christmas Moment: Matthew 1-2 & Luke 1 & 2.
Have you ever considered how difficult Mary's life would become – after she accepted God's will in her life? Think about what the Lord asked Mary to do: to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and bear the Son of God, as a virgin maiden? That definitely would have been a life-altering moment. But have you ever considered how difficult Mary's life would become, the moment she said "YES" to God's request?
Consider first: It was a sin against the Law of God to bear a child outside of the marriage union. So the moment Mary became pregnant, without an earthly husband, she would be branded an adulteress, or fornicator, and knowingly, would be placing herself in danger of death by stoning, if Joseph didn't believe her story.
Speaking of Joseph, can you imagine how the conversation with her fiancé would go, when she tried to explain to him that she was pregnant, and Joseph knew he had nothing to do with it? What would his reaction be? He would be heartbroken, disillusioned by the woman he loved, and he may have been outraged. We do know, that no matter how Mary tried to explain things, Joseph wouldn't believe her.
But who could blame him. The fact is, something like that was never thought possible. And let's not forget that Mary, when told of God's plan for her life, questioned it too: "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
Any adult knows that virgins don't have babies. End of story. So you can understand why Joseph wouldn't buying whatever Mary was selling.
Let's go back to Mary and Joseph's conversation again. No sooner would Mary inform Joseph that she was pregnant outside of wedlock, than she would say something like this; "But it's OK Joseph, you see, I'm pregnant by God Himself! The Holy Spirit overshadowed me, and the baby within me is the Son of God!"
Can you imagine Joseph's reaction to that little tidbit of information? Now he would have thought Mary was nuts for sure! I mean, it's one thing for her to be out messing around on him, and to get pregnant by some other guy, but then, Mary tries to cover it up by pinning it on God! What blasphemy!
At that moment, Mary would have found herself in a very hard place in life. I mean, how do you explain something like that, when there's absolutely no way to prove what you are saying is true? In that day, there was no video or audio capturing equipment. No witnesses to back her story up. It was just Mary, a young woman with a far-fetched tale, that nobody would ever believe!
The fact that Joseph didn't believe her story is proven through his actions. Joseph immediately sought to "put Mary away privately." That term means, Joseph sought to divorce her. Sad but true fact. But it could've been worse. Joseph had the right to drag Mary before the religious rulers of Israel, and have her stoned to death.
While Joseph was in the act of divorcing Mary, however, God sent his angel to explain everything to Joseph, and stop him from carrying out his 'just' intentions.
Though Joseph did believe the angel's report, the fact is, very few, if any other people in Israel would believe her story - friends and family included.
And so it was, for Mary, that for the rest of her life, she would have to hear whispered accusations of her 'whoredom, unfaithfulness, and fornication.' Then, when the rest of her story was factored in, about Jesus being God's own Son, there'd have people making all kinds of cruel and cutting marks against her, for sure!
The day Jesus was dedicated in the Temple, Simeon prophetically spoke many wonderful things over Jesus and his mother. But the last recorded words of Simeon's prophecy are what we want to remember today. Simeon proclaimed something that foretold what her life would be like, from the day she yes to God, to the end of her life. In Luke 2:35, we read, "And a sword shall pierce your own soul, as well."
Those words weren't exactly the kind of blessing Mary had hoped to hear, at her son's dedication service, I'm sure. But it revealed the course of Mary's life from that day forward. For Mary, you see, life would not be easy. Knowing who her son was, and understanding there was the greatest call upon his life, was something that few around her could comprehend. And not being believed, openly mocked, ostracized, rejected, ridiculed by friends, family, and neighbors alike, for decades, would not be a pleasant way to live your life, would it?
In America, we like happy endings to our stories, don't we? But sometimes, submitting to the will of God doesn't result in happy days ahead. At least, not in this life. Consider for a moment, all the adults and children being murdered by ISIS at this very moment. And the millions who have died martyr's deaths throughout the centuries. Though their present days are not pleasant, and God's will isn't a;ways easy, being obedient to God, and doing His will is worth it all. For to please God, and be His witnesses in the earth is worth more than any temporary earthly gain or pleasure.
Paul assured us of this truth, in Romans 8:18. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
I hope we understand, that although Mary's faithful submission to the will of God was necessary for our salvation, it brought great difficulty into her life. That's the undeniable fact. To be marked as a wretched sinner, while knowing it was not true, would daily pierce your soul, wouldn't it? Then, to watch an unbelieving, and entirely ignorant world beat your son beyond recognition, and crucify Him upon a cross, while you watched from a short distance away, had to be the most unthinkably horrible moment a mother could ever endure.
Mary didn't know all the details of how hard life would become for her, the moment she accepted the call of God upon her life. But she knew enough, from the very beginning, to know it was not going to make life easier.
For the sake of a sin-ravaged world, who stood guilty before God, and had no hope for redemption, until that blessed moment when a young woman said, I do" to the will of God - I am so thankful Mary did what she did.
Note: Contrary to some religious beliefs, Mary is not equal with God. We do not worship her. In fact, Mary had to receive her own son, Jesus Christ, as her Lord and Savior, during the course of her lifetime, the same we must do so, for her to be saved from her own sins. Think about that: The mother had to submit to her own Son, as Savior, and believe in Him (as her Redeemer) to be saved. Physically bearing a child, even the blessed child, wouldn't be sufficient to save her. She had to be 'born again' - just like us.
Mary's life was an amazing life, but a difficult life. And many times, when she felt that sword piercing her soul, she had to wonder at the purposes of God. But Mary remained faithful to the end. And so it was, that in the end, the faith of a faithful woman resulted in the redemption of countless millions. When we think about Mary, we should be thankful for her faith, and her faithfulness, that regardless of the cost, she was willing to accept God's call in her life.
Now here's my challenge to you: I pray you will do the same. No matter what it costs you to do the will of God, I pray you will be willing to do whatever He asks you to do - faithfully - all the days of your life. In the end, Mary received great joy as her reward. After all the tears, Mary was filled with UNTHINKABLE JOY - when she saw Jesus COMPLETE HIS MISSION, and do for us, what nobody else could do.
But never overlook the fact, that up to the moment when Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended to His heavenly Father, life was hard for Mary. Write it down: Mary only received her reward because she believed God, obeyed His will, and remained faithful to the end.
So what's that mean to you? Keep your eyes upon the goal - and press forward. Don't give up, don't quit. But like Mary, faithfully do all He asks you to do, and in the end, you will receive your just reward, as well. In that day, you will be thankful you did whatever God called you to do.
But here's the key: between now and then, through every difficult moment along the way, I encourage you - keep on believing, keep on walking faithfully in Him, for the outcome is well worth the journey ahead! So stay faithful, and do His will regardless of the temporary difficulty you may encounter. In the end, like Mary, you will receive your reward!