An unmarried, teenaged girl. A poor carpenter pledged to be her husband. Two of the most unlikely people chosen to birth and be responsible for the upbringing of the Savior.
Even though we know how the Christmas Story unfolds, we still marvel each year at what seems to be so unexpected. We say, as the song goes, that it was “such a strange way to save the world.”
But is it really that unexpected?
All throughout the Old Testament, we are told of God’s plan of salvation beginning with the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:5. From his line of descendants (as numerous as the stars) was to come the long awaited Messiah.
The Gospel of Matthew starts out with the genealogy of Jesus, revealing Christ’s family tree. It strikes me that, being God, Jesus could have just appeared on the scene shortly before his earthly ministry.
But he humbled Himself to enter the earth the same way we all do: being born of a mother. Salvation came through the family.
Mom, you play an irreplaceable role in the lives of your children. We always think we have to do some grand and glorious thing for God, as if the Kingdom can only be grown beyond the home in corporate offices, foreign missions fields, or even schools. But we can grow it effectively right within the walls of our own house.
All that was needed for Salvation to put on flesh was His mother yielding to God’s will- “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)
She wasn’t called to the role because she was perfect, but because she was willing to be used by God. If anyone should have felt unequal to the task, it was Mary. She was basically handed the responsibility of parenting the Son of God.
Can you imagine? Most of us feel wholly unprepared to mother ordinary children.
Now, having a sinless child should have made the whole parenting gig a lot easier, but even Mary had mom fails. Like the time she accidentally left the Savior behind in Jerusalem, and then became mad at Him.
There were plenty of times when Mary blew it. She too made mistakes, because while she was parenting a perfect child, she herself was not perfect.
In Luke 1:34, we find her asking the angel “How will this be?” The idea of conceiving a child without, you know, the act of conceiving one seemed impossible to her.
2,000 years later, there are plenty of things we find God asking us to do as moms that seem impossible. Maybe it’s functioning each day after you’ve been up half the night with a baby or toddler. Maybe disciplining a strong willed child. Maybe it’s the idea of homeschooling.
Mary had no idea how the impossible would be accomplished, but she trusted God and allowed Him to work through her to accomplish His purposes.
Though not flawless, she still raised that tiny baby each day, one day at a time, to eventually become a young man who would change the world forever. When it cost her a great deal, she continued to trust God.
Her responsibility as a mother led her to endure shame and ridicule from townspeople who didn’t take kindly to an unmarried pregnant woman, flee her homeland and move to a distant, unfamiliar country to protect her son from a bloodthirsty king, and finally watch her firstborn be tortured and hung on a cross.
What if our greatest contribution to the kingdom of heaven is simply our act of mothering? Our often moment by moment decisions to be obedient and faithful to show up day after day (after day) for His glory seem so ordinary, but they can be used for extraordinary things.
God continues to bring about the salvation of the world through families: regular, ordinary parents like you and me who fulfill the Great Commission in our homes on a daily basis. He accomplishes His purposes when we say yes to bringing up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Educating our kids about the faith and modeling it to them is paramount to His plan: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) This is God’s design for the family, and it is His design for generations to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.