Saturday 22nd December
The message of Christmas is God’s gracious gift of His Son Jesus Christ, being born to a virgin in the most humble of places. This heart-warming story is so often acted at schools, in churches and even in films. Yet as much as this story is rightly about Jesus, there are important characters that add to the dynamic of this narrative and even dare I say, that without some of them there would be no Christmas story at all.
One of these important characters is the mother of Jesus, Mary. Throughout the world Mary is highly revered (even sadly worshipped) yet is it right to honour such a lady, after all Jesus should always be the centre of attention? Well, Jesus is and should always be the headliner as He is the reason why Christmas is celebrated, but if we read Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception and birth we come to realise that Mary was no ordinary lady.
Verse 39 starts off with Mary running to her relative’s house. As she greets Elisabeth, her baby (John the Baptist) leaps for joy inside her womb. Elisabeth then acknowledges Mary as a woman blessed above all other women and admits that she is honoured to have the mother of Jesus in her home. Elisabeth emphasises that Mary’s favour from the Lord is because of her obedience and belief in what the Lord had said through Gabriel. What an amazing picture that Luke builds for us here. The joy, excitement and anticipation of knowing that a Saviour was to be born through Mary is evident throughout the text. Even the baby in Elisabeth’s womb jumps for joy.
Luke makes it very clear that Mary’s life will never be the same. The joy and excitement that Elisabeth felt is also mirrored in Mary’s response in what is commonly known as “The Magnificat”. There have been many allusions between Mary’s song and Hannah’s song of thanksgiving upon her giving birth to her son Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Both were thankful to God for their gift of children and both knew that their children would be servants to God in their own ways. However Mary, in her song, acknowledges that she is carrying more than just a child but the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham and His merciful love to the nation of Israel.
Should we honour such a woman? Yes, absolutely. She knew that in carrying the Saviour of the world, that she would be called ‘blessed’ from generation to generation. But rather than emphasise the greatness of Mary, let us be reminded of her response in the privilege of birthing the King of Glory, the One who deserves all the honour. “I am the Lord’s servant…He took notice of His lowly servant girl.” What a perfect example of servant heartedness Jesus had in His mother. Yet the truth is that Jesus was truly the ultimate servant, in giving His life for humanity.
Upon reading these verses we should be challenged to question where our heart lies over this Christmas period. Is it in the excitement of the festive cheer, of gifts and Christmas fayre? Do you ever feel that same elation when you read of Jesus’ birth or hear of His story in dramas and plays as John the Baptist did? Or are we as overjoyed as Mary and Elisabeth were in knowing that in Jesus, something extraordinary was to be birthed? Let the festivities of Christmas time emphasise the remembrance of the birth of the servant hearted Saviour of the world through the blessed virgin Mary.