As a young girl in a small country in a little town, Mary would probably have had no sophisticated contacts, no formal education, and only a peripheral view of the Temple or synagogue life. Like her parents she would have gone to the required festivals under the Torah, and stayed in the open court of the women away from the action enjoyed only by men. Yet one day an angel shows up in the kitchen or the garden, where most teens would be helping out and she hears astonishing news.
Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
Why did she react the way she did? Here is some great foreign, frightening being telling her she is going to have a baby? All the other people in the Old Testament were afraid when an angel showed up.
The angel never says this baby is going to be the Messiah. What did she think? All young women wanted to be the mother of the Messiah in that generation, but certainly not someone in a humble home of no reputation. The Messiah’s coming would be announced in the Temple at Jerusalem by the High Priest, most suredly. Perhaps she believed that this baby was a new type of miracle? She did not have as we do 2000 years of history where all these events are explained. Her faith is being tested here.
Did she wonder to herself, Who is the figure? Is this another Rosemary’s baby? Maybe this apparition is from the nether world (what King James people called hell or pre-hell where the dead waited to be released into heaven.)
But she accepted this being and his message. She did not say something I might have said, “But, people will think I am a loose woman. That I’ve had sex outside of marriage. That will make my baby a bastard. What am I going to tell my parents? I will be shunned. What if my fiance Joseph dumps me? He has every right to do this? How can you ask me, a virgin, to accept this without knowing what will happen:? How can I expect to raise this child by myself, without income, without skills? I’ll never get a decent husband this way. I am ruined. The angel said I had favor with God. If this is favor, who needs it?”
But she didn’t say any of that. She said
“I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants. May everything you said come true.” And then the angel disappeared. Luke 1:38 Living Bible
Now that takes faith. She did not say that she had faith in God’s word, although she believed it was God’s word to her, but in fact, her faith was in the angel’s word. She was willing to believe the one who brought the word to her. And as a lesson to us two thousand years later, we too must be ready to believe the words of faith and responsibility. We too should learn to say, “Let it be done according to the Word of God.” That is true submission and it is also why Mary, as well as we, can be called Blessed.
And Mary did pay a price for saying yes. She was considered a fallen woman in her home town; she had to watch her son die as an enemy of the Jewish religion; she continued to live in a society where her son’s preminence was not known or believed. She did not know the end from the beginning. But still she said yes.
God asks all of us to say yes at some point in our lives. Like Mary we are not told the future; that is the crux of living by faith. There are those who never say yes – they die before their time, unfulfilled, in self-pity and blame. The yes-men have an inheritance in heaven; the no-men have little or nothing to show for their lives.
Christmas is about something new, even radical, coming into the world. This generation has fallen into despondency; the American church is self-indulgent and lazy. It needs the new, the Godly, the blessings that faith brings. The only requirement is a people submitted to God and willing to be servants, obedient to the next call, the next command from the throne. The future, your future, demands this. Are you ready to say yes?