A teen named Mary found favor with God. She was a young woman with a bright future and a destiny. Her parents had promised her to Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth. The course for her life was set. However, those plans were about to be unraveled by one simple act of obedience. This humble servant, a virgin, agreed to be impregnated with the very seed of God. What price would she pay for the honor of bearing God’s son?
The customs and culture of Nazareth in the days when Mary was growing up would have been far different from anything we have experienced today. A brief look at the historical documentation would suggest that they typically lived in small one or two room homes with dirt floors and flat roofs. Much of everyday life was lived in a centralized courtyard outside the front door. Typical tasks such a laundry, cooking, etc. would have been more public than what we experience. Keeping in mind that everyone probably knew their neighbor’s business creates a whole different picture of what it might be like to live outside the accepted norm of the day.
Unlike today, pregnancy before marriage would definitely not be acceptable. Joseph would have been within his rights to put her away. The shame could have been significant. She could have been shunned by all of society. She faced possible rejection from all that she knew, and yet she did not hesitate. In the recorded discourse between Mary and the angel in Luke 1: 38 it reads, “And, Mary said, Behold the bond slave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.”
Did she take time to count the cost to her personally before coming into agreement with the plan of God? We do not know, however we do know that she chose to accept the will of God for her life as an act of obedience to her Lord. I am reminded of the lyrics to a song written by Mark Lowery:
Mary Did You Know?
“Mary did you know that your baby boy will someday walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will 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?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
Oh Mary did you know
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?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am”
What we do know is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the favor of God upon her life. Sometimes that favor comes at great personal cost. How could she possibly explain her pregnancy to others, was she to tell them that she was pregnant via the Holy Spirit? Who would even believe her? Scandal, criticism, and rejection all potential threats to this simple act of obedience and yet, she said yes. She was willing to sacrifice her personal plans and goals, her personal safety and acceptance by friends, family, and society itself, for the honor of bearing the son of God. She will be honored for all of eternity as the mother of Jesus.
Let us not forget the role of Joseph in this whole scenario. He too must have faced tremendous struggles as the espoused of Mary. Society would have said, “Put her away. You are not responsible; it is not your child. She has shamed you. Let her pay the price of betrayal.” Yet we know that he did none of those things. He too had a part to play in the birth of Jesus, and in rearing him as his own. When he contemplated all that had happened and what he should do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him as recorded in Matthew 1:20 saying, “… Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” So we can see how Joseph faced an important decision regarding his fulfillment of God’s plan for his life as the earthly father of Jesus.
There is no doubt that Joseph had to pay a price for the honor of rearing the son of God. Personal sacrifice, shame, ridicule no doubt very real in his life. Nevertheless he agreed to play his part. He agreed to pay the price for the favor of God that was also upon his life.
What was it like to be the earthly parents of the son of God? No doubt much of the honor which they were due did not come within their lifetime on earth; however their obedience had eternal rewards. Those rewards are available to each of us that say yes to the Lord. The honor of accepting Jesus as our personal Savior may come at a price, but the reward is eternal. Are you willing to say yes to Jesus?
(This article will also appear in the December issue of Faith Filled Family Magazine.)