Mary – A Beautiful Surrendered Servant of God
A young woman was faced with an incredibly phenomenal, beautiful, and yet gut-wrenchingly hard assignment – to mother the Son of God. Unless inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, no one would believe this woman was impregnated by Him. This story oozed perceived scandal, one that should have led to her death. How did this woman survive such a weighty commitment?
“The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.” Matthew 1:18-19
Conflict of character and action emerged. The text says that the betrothed Joseph didn’t want to disgrace Mary publicly so he was going to divorce her secretly, which in that era would have been very difficult and suspicious. It would have been easier, and in accordance with the Law, to divorce her publicly; to even treat her as a harlot and stone her for her betrayal of the marriage, had she committed adultery with another man. But how could she prove that she didn’t?
Considering divorce during the engagement because of adultery was part of the Law, why wouldn’t Joseph go through with it publicly? He would have most likely been considered even more righteous to the religious leaders. I think part of what made the decision so difficult was because of Mary’s character.
Mary’s character didn’t align with the pursuit of betrayal against her betrothed, leading to this pregnancy. Perhaps Holy Spirit was convicting Joseph with an unsettled spirit about this, which is why he was willing to risk the secret divorce instead of going public. (To understand more of Joseph’s story and the secret vs. public divorce situation, go to, Joseph – Faithful Obedience in a Difficult Situation)
Luke 1:26-30 confirms Mary’s character:
“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Underline added)
Considering angels look like men, Mary was concerned of this angel’s intentions. Was it from heaven or from man? Did he want to bless her or harm her (Luke 20:4)? So, the angel confirmed this was a message from heaven to bless her. She need not be afraid because God was with her, and she had indeed found favour with Him.
Between Mary’s character, the Spirit’s conviction, and the angel’s confirmation, Joseph continued to pursue his marriage to her.
Some may wonder why God chose Mary to be engaged to Joseph when she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Wouldn’t that create greater rumour that the child was really Joseph and Mary’s out of wedlock? Wouldn’t Mary have been fine on her own?
The culture in Mary and Joseph’s time was much different than today’s. This was for Mary and Jesus’ protection. Because the engagement had already been established, Mary and Jesus had someone to provide and care for them going forward. They were under the protection of a family unit. If Joseph hadn’t taken Mary as his wife, she escaped death, and was on her own, she and Jesus would have been outcasts and stuck dependant on gleaning any scraps from fields and the wilderness for food. It would have been extremely dangerous for Mary as well. So, God in His great grace, protected Mary and Jesus through Joseph.
God isn’t moved by any particular location or status. He cares about the heart of a person. The angel esteemed Mary for who she was, regardless of her poor financial condition or from where she came. God was very tender and compassionate to Mary in sharing His favour upon her, and choosing this young, lowly woman to bear His Son. She wasn’t a queen or from some rich estate. Though she was from the lineage of David, she was not on anyone’s radar of awareness, except that of her sweet Joseph. Mary considered God choosing her to be the mother of Jesus of the highest honour.
“Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”
Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?”
The angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
“See, I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:26-38
Mary had the most difficult decision before her – Accept becoming the mother of the Messiah and lose all credibility, or, refuse God Himself. She knew that apart from God unveiling His Truth to others, no one would believe she conceived a child by the Holy Spirit. Even though Isaiah 7:14 declared that a virgin would give birth to a son, it seemed humanly impossible. How many devious women tried to use that answer to cover their adulterous/immoral act?
Not only that, but Mary had not yet been married or had children. What kind of support would she receive? There’s no mention of her parents in the Bible of which I’m aware. How would they react? If you were a young woman, I’m sure a thousand questions and doubts would fill your mind and want to sway you away from this divine assignment. And yet, Mary didn’t second guess the choice at all. She immediately submitted herself to the Lord’s will and surrendered her own dreams, and plans, for His. What a wonderful human example Mary was for Jesus, as He too would constantly surrender Himself to His Father’s will.
The Lord loves and specifically designed us for community. Immediately, after sharing the news that Mary would conceive the Messiah by the Holy Spirit, the angel told Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy. There had not been any signs of God’s presence in 400 years! Now, Mary met with an angel and is about to carry the Messiah, and her senior citizen cousin was six months pregnant with a soon to be prophet, the forerunner for Jesus.
Even though Mary was assigned the hardest task of any woman on the face of this earth, God brought understanding people around her to support her through it all – her betrothed Joseph, and her cousins, Zechariah and Elizabeth, with their miraculous son.
God’s protection exceeds any attack of man and enemy. His provisions are unmatched. His plans, unorthodox. He lives outside of people’s understanding and time, and can make all things seemingly impossible, possible. And He will never make you do it alone.
Are you in a difficult situation? Do you question where the Lord is and what He’s doing? Has He given you an assignment that is far beyond your own understanding or capabilities? No matter how fearful or anxious you are, trust the Lord to provide the support and supplies you need to fulfill it. He’s with you, always, and loves you deeply. He will guide you, just as He did Mary, because He plans all things for His glory! Consider the things He assigns to you an honour. Surrender to His will and watch what He will do!