The Faces of Grace
The Essence of Mary
Mary was a young teen living in a town of Nazareth, in the hills of Galilee. She came from an impoverished but honorable family. Her family was descendants of Israel’s King David. She was trained in the Scriptures and knew that God had promised to send the Messiah, who would rescue the people of Isreal and become their king.
Every Jewish girl dreamed of being the mother of the Messiah. Mary loved God and wanted to serve him with all of her heart, but she was just a young girl from a humble family, with no great expectations that her life was going to be any different from her mother’s or from that of the other women in her town.
As was the custom for young girls to be betrothed when they reached puberty, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. They were to be married within the year. She was spending that year in her home, learning how to be a good Jewish wife and mother.
Joseph was a carpenter, hard-working and responsible. He was a kind man, and the more Mary got to know him the more she appreciated his sensitivity and gentleness toward her. Life would be good with Joseph. She was glad that her parents had made such a perfect match for her. They were soon to embark on a life-changing journey.
The angel, Gabriel, came to Mary`s home to proclaim “You will have a son, and His name will be Jesus, He will be the Son of God, the One who was promised so long ago. His kingdom will never end”.
“How will this be since I am a virgin?” she whispered, trying to comprehend the words she had just heard. The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore, the child to be born will be holy…”
She trusted God and was obedient and submissive to His plans. She was the perfect, yet unlikely choice, which makes her story even more remarkable. “And Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38
Mary knew that an unmarried woman with a child would suffer disgrace, be considered an outcast and could even be condemned to death by stoning.
By saying “YES” to God, she put her future and her life in God`s hands.
Gabriel also shared the news with Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, who was old and barren and seemingly forgotten by God, was also with child. “For nothing will be impossible with God”. Luke 1:37
When Gabriel departed, Mary hurried to gather her things and set out for Judah to visit Elizabeth. It took several days to travel to her destination. Upon arriving at Elizabeth`s house, Mary called out to her in great anticipation. When they saw each other, the baby in Elizabeth`s belly jumped and she knew something amazing was happening.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three more months, possibly until Elizabeth`s baby, later known as John the Baptist, was born. Mary returned home as she was nearing the time of her son`s birth.
When Mary arrived home, she knew that she would have to speak to Joseph and explain to him what had happened. Would he believe her?
When Joseph heard the news, he did have a difficult time believing her. He was shocked because Mary had seemed to be so pure and so faithful. He was terribly hurt. He knew that he couldn’t marry her now. The law said that she should be publicly judged and the penalty was to be stoned to death. He couldn’t do that to Mary. He still cared for her. He would arrange to sign the papers for divorce privately. He went to bed that night with a very heavy heart.
That night an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream and told him that the child conceived in Mary`s virgin womb was by the Holy Spirit and his name would be Jesus.
The next day, he took Mary home as his wife, under his protection, they waited for the birth of her child.
Mary was nearing the time of her pregnancy when news came to Nazareth about a new decree. Caesar had decreed that everyone was required to return to the town of their birthplace to be counted for the census. Joseph and Mary were descended from King David and were required to travel to Bethlehem, which was about 90 miles away.
Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, Joseph could find no comfortable place for rest. Mary was exhausted and in the first stages of labor. Finally, Joseph was able to find a cave where animals were kept and there on a bed of straw, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in an animal feeding trough filled with clean straw.
An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds proclaiming that a Savior was born. They came in wonder and awe to worship Him.
“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
She was truly blessed that she had known the presence of God in her life.
She is an example of youthful purity and a godly mother. She was indeed a woman of great faith.
Why was she chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ? Not because she deserved it, but because God bestowed His grace to her. She was given the privilege of being the birth mother of God`s son.
The Hope of Humility- today
Mary provides us with a striking example of a teenage girl who was given a difficult, yet extraordinary assignment from God.
She is admired for her bravery and loved for her devotion to God. She surrendered her life and reputation to His purpose.
She was intentional and mature. She was just a normal teenager who loved God.
Mary must have been filled with bewilderment, wonder, and amazement after her encounter with Gabriel. She was probably anxious about questions that she would be getting from family: friends and neighbors, as well as what she would say to Joseph.
God so sweetly provided Mary with someone in her life who could understand the miracle that was occurring in her life. Elizabeth and Mary were separated by age but were united by the hand of God. He chose them from their ordinary lives, to do the seemingly impossible.
They sought each other out as confidants, to encounter wisdom to reflect upon, and to understand God`s actions. What a comfort they must have been to each other.
Are you moved to do the same with trusted friends?
Do you truly believe that nothing is impossible with God?
Just as He used a young Mary, God still uses young women in incredible ways today! He uses them despite their age—or perhaps even precisely because of it—to glorify Christ and spread the gospel message.
(I love what Sophie Hudson said about the meeting between Elizabeth and Mary in her book, “Giddy up Eunice”, “When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred places”.)
Are there older women in your life that you can relate to, be encouraged by or be blessed by, as Mary was by Elizabeth?
When the Holy Spirit gives you compassion for someone, it doesn`t matter the age difference, just be obedient to His prompting. “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
Suppose there is knocking on your door and an angel is there. He knows your name and has great news for you. Would you accept as Mary did, or would you be too busy to hear?
Are you ready for what God may ask of you?
1 John 3: 18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Further thoughts for Easter- It`s all about the cross
The Cross -the power of God. There is power in the blood.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
What Jesus endured at the cross for us and what it did for us
- The whip- 39 lashes, gives our freedom in our bodies “He Himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, but His wounds, you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
- The thorns- a crown of thorns pushed into His head, gives us Freedom in our minds. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
- The nails- that held him to the cross, give us freedom of our hands. He paid for everything we ever did and He never mentions it again. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten. “For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12
- The spear- gives us freedom in our hearts. He was crushed for our iniquities. The goal of the crucifixion is ultimately suffocation. If the bodies are nailed just right onto the cross, the lungs are not able to breathe and ultimately suffocation occurs after the leg bones are broken. Jesus had no bones broken and He did not suffocate… The Roman soldier thrust a spear through Jesus` side and at that moment, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…it is finished.“
This isn`t the end of the story. Three days later….He arose from the grave.
The Resurrection of Christ changes everything. The death of Jesus is one thing but the fact that Christ was raised from the dead is the power of Christianity.
The resurrection of Christ confirms Who Jesus is. He was not merely a martyred teacher. The fact that He conquered death confirms that He is our promised Messiah. The Person and work of Christ are confirmed by His rising from the tomb.
The resurrection is essential. Should we remove the Resurrection, the Christian message would completely unravel. We exist because of Jesus’ resurrection. We died with Christ We were raised with Christ. Sin has no power over a dead person Now, we walk in freedom from sin.
Do you have a heaviness that is weighing you down? leave it at the cross and choose to live in freedom with Him. Chose faith over fear.
By His wounds, we are healed.
Good works cannot save you. Faith in Jesus alone can save you.
“For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
If you do not have a personal relationship with Christ, I encourage you to invite Him into your heart today by joining in this prayer…..
Dear Lord, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)
He is risen INDEED!!!