“By word and deed, Mary, the mother of Jesus, teaches devoted followers of her son about the significant virtues of a true disciple.” Susan Easton Black
Each of the main characters in the story of the 1st Christmas have something important to teach us about our own desires and how we can best serve God. The lessons we can learn from Mary are particularly powerful. Let’s look at a few things we can learn from her.
Mary is Called
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
What we learn
Mary seemed to be minding her own business when her call to follow Christ came. And with it came immediate challenges. She had the challenge of facing Joseph and what must have been the overwhelming concerns about being the mother of Jesus.
Matched to the challenges, she also received heavenly help along the way. Joseph was visited by an angel and she had his support. The first challenge was overcome with help from God.
From then on, her scripture story is one of struggle and set back. She had to travel to Bethlehem. I wonder if she ever thought that this call to be taxed was incredibly bad timing and maybe God could have helped by delaying it or choosing to have Jesus born a few months later.
After getting to Bethlehem, she then had to give birth in a manger. I wonder if she ever wondered why God didn’t prepare a better situation for the birth of the Savior.
Shortly after Jesus’ birth, the family had to move to Egypt because of the threats imposed by Herod. I wonder if she ever thought that this seemed unfair and questioned why God would let this happen to them.
Remarkably, there is no scriptural record of any of this thinking or complaining. For Mary, the call to follow Christ was one of challenge, hardship and setback. But there is no evidence that she murmured, complained, or doubted.
The call for us to follow Christ will have some of the same challenges! Inconvenient timing, like Mary faced traveling to pay taxes right when she was about to give birth. Inconvenient disappointments in our lives, like Mary faced when they couldn’t find room in the inn. Inconvenient and unfair circumstances brought about by others, like when Mary had to move her family because of Herod.
The question is not if these things will come when we are called to follow Christ, they will. Even the earthly mother of Jesus was not exempted from the struggles and challenges that come in this life. We shouldn’t be surprised or lose faith when we face similar challenges.
The question is not if these things will come. The question is, can we have the faith of Mary? Can we move with faith when things are inconvenient, disappointing, and unfair? Can we take the story of Christmas and learn the lesson that following Christ will bring us joy and peace? And also test us as we grow to be more like Him?
Joy, peace, testing, disappointing, happiness, pain, rest, sanctuary, unfair. They all bundle together. They did for Mary and they do for us. And at the pinnacle moment there is the Light. The Star that shines the way for each of us. There is the Savior standing and calling to us. There is the hope and triumph.
Thank you, Mary, for setting the example.
Thank you, Jesus, for being the Light.
And thanks to each of us as we strive to live that example and share that Light.