During the holidays, churches around the country produce masterful programs and over-the-top Christmas productions to celebrate the birth of Jesus. With great theatrical fanfare, we commemorate the coming of the Son of God. But in reality, it was not at all like that for the baby Jesus.
Instead, he was born in a lowly stable alongside cattle. That incredible humility, though, was juxtaposed against the gritty strength of the Virgin Mary — a teenage peasant girl from nowhere special chosen to give birth to the Savior.
The theme of making the last first, the weak strong, and the meek bold is one that began in a stable and continues for the believer today.
During his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus told those gathered around him, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”
Then in Matthew 20, after telling the parable of the vineyard workers, Jesus said, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
And in 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul — burdened by the “thorn in my flesh” that he asked the Lord to take away — heard from Jesus, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
None of that wisdom would have been passed on to us in Scripture had Mary not embraced gracefully what was certainly a precarious calling. As an unwed teenager at a time in culture when women were seen more as property than as human beings, Mary trusted the word of an angel, stepping humbly into the difficult blessing ahead of her. And Joseph stood by Mary’s side, risking his own reputation, too, to care for her.
While Scripture never explicitly states Mary knew her Son would die on the cross to purchase our salvation, she did know the magnitude of the baby she carried.
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord,” she said, according to Luke 1:46-49. “How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on, all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”
So as we celebrate with splendor the glory of Jesus’ birth, remember the humble strength he taught us through Mary. By design, God chose the least of these to lead the way, to usher in redemption for us all.
Even — and especially — in our weakness, the power of the Gospel shouts.
Check back here every Wednesday in December for another Christmas Devotional.