Countdown to Christmas – Mary’s parents

My youngest child is leaving home in January. The ‘lasts’ have begun – her last birthday living under our roof, her last Christmas at home, etc. When she went to college, I knew she’d be back, still needed us. But this time is different. She’s mature, ready to face life as an adult, ready to walk the path the Lord has set for her.

Parenting is hard, isn’t it? We begin to think we’ve got this, and then we’re thrown as they grow into a new season of life. I thought it would get easier after they all graduated and struck out on their own, but it didn’t. The adult challenges they face become our burden as well. Even when things seem to be going smoothly, there’s always the seed of worry in our hearts.

Can you imagine the magnitude of concern Mary’s parents must’ve experienced?

Their daughter was an ordinary child and an exemplary believer. Things were going well. They had chosen an upstanding husband for her and were feeling good about the direction of her life. I’m sure they were going through the ‘lasts’ with her at home as they prepared her dowry and taught her a wife’s duties.

Then, out of the blue, she tells them she’s pregnant – with a child the Spirit of the Lord God conceived in her! How could this be? Could she be telling the truth? It was not like Mary, she was a good girl. Had they been deceived?

The Bible doesn’t give us much detail about Mary’s parents’ reaction to the news, but it does give us an idea of how Joseph, her betrothed, responded…

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:19 NIV

Mary’s parents were just like us, they would have been so disappointed. All their expectations were dashed in one moment. Even if Mary was telling the truth, she would never be a suitable wife for a faithful Jewish man. They would have to raise their illigitimate grandchild. It would shame the entire family.

But God was gracious to them – as he is to all of us. He gave Joseph a dream confirming Mary’s story.

…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:20-21, 24 NIV

The law said a testimony was confirmed by two witnesses. Joseph’s dream confirmed Mary’s story – the baby was conceived by God and was the promised Messiah. Mary’s parents’ must’ve been awestruck. Were they going to be grandparents to the Messiah? Babysit the Messiah? Watch him take his first steps?

It couldn’t have been easy being Mary’s parents. Just as they prepared for Mary’s delivery, the authorities required Joseph to register in Bethlehem for the census. They would not be there for the birth. They would have to trust God for the safety of their daughter, the delivery of their grandson. But it was also God’s Son. Surely, God would protect his own son.

In this last week of Advent, let’s stand in awe of God’s plan – his miraculous, amazing, plan for our salvation. And let’s rejoice in the baby Jesus. Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23 NIV

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