In the Hand of God
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2: 7 NKJV
She was young, probably twelve or thirteen most research tells us. A girl who had reached the age of puberty still living at home with her parents, yet promised in marriage to a man named Joseph. To everyone who knew her she was Mary, but to God she was the one He had chosen to bear His Son. I wonder what kind of child she was...what was it about this girl that caught the eye of God? What was it that made her His choice?
One day as this young virgin girl went about her daily routine, she was greeted by an angel, “Rejoice, highly favored one , the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” No doubt she found herself taken off guard and wondering what an angel could possibly want with her. The angel continued telling Mary not to fear for she had found favor with God and that she had been chosen to bear the Son of the Most High. And her response? She merely asked how this could be, seeing that she was a virgin and had not yet been with a man, with her betrothed. And then the angel spoke the words that would change her life forever. This baby would be God's. And then after telling her news about her cousin Elizabeth, the angel was gone.
What thoughts must have flooded the mind of this young girl? Did she hear him correctly? Was it a dream? What would her parents say when they discovered her news? Would they believe her story? And what about Joseph? Would he want her still? Would he divorce her or worse?
There was only one thing to do. God in His infinite wisdom knew that this young girl would need to have someone else in the world that would believe her, someone who could verify that she indeed would bear the Messiah. And so Mary journeyed for several days to her cousin Elizabeth's house. When Mary entered the house of Elizabeth, she greeted her cousin and immediately Elizabeth's baby leapt in her womb. This woman who was thought to be barren was now round with a child. At Mary's greeting, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and by the Holy Spirit, spoke the words that this young woman so needed to hear. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
There were the words that Mary no doubt needed to hear. The words of confirmation that she had heard the angel's words correctly. Words that strengthened her in her journey as she bore the burden and glorious blessing of bearing God's Son as a gift to a lost and dying world.
And then there was Joseph. He no doubt cared for Mary and had decided to divorce her privately when she told him her news. The news that she bore a child that wasn't his. But as he made plans to divorce her, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid. Again the voice of an angel saying not to be afraid of what God had planned for one's life. The angel confirmed that Mary had not sinned against Joseph or God, but that she above all women had been chosen to deliver the Gift. And so he rose from his sleep and went to claim his bride. What this must have meant to Mary. This young frightened girl facing the ridicule and disbelief that would no doubt come from others as it had also come from Joseph. And yet now she was no longer on this journey alone with God, for God had chosen for her a man who would be her support and who would be the earthly father of his son.
And so they faced the road ahead together with God as their strength. They no doubt received the looks of scorn from their neighbors and friends. They were no doubt looked at as sinners who couldn't wait for their own marriage bed. Maybe their own families found the story to be too much to believe. After all, this was just Mary and Joseph who they had known their entire lives. They were no different and no better than anyone else. Why would God choose them?
And then the news came that they must journey to Bethlehem the city of David to pay taxes. And so this young girl bearing the weight of the baby within her, journeyed with her husband to the city of David, the city that had been promised to bring forth a king. But thou, "Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." And as the contractions began there was nowhere for her to go and give birth besides a lowly stable. And so it was that the days were accomplished, and the young virgin girl chosen by God to bring forth this most precious gift, laid among where the animals had been and delivered the Son of God. She didn't have a nursery or a new crib adorned with clean sheets and blankets. She simply wrapped the greatest present the world had given been given in swaddling clothes, and laid Him to sleep in a manger. That first Christmas night Mary wrapped a present that God had given the world. A tiny baby who would one day be the sacrifice for all, but on this night He was a baby wrapped and lying in a manger, fulfilling the promise of hope for all people.