I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was in my home getting ready for the evening meal, gathering items for supper. Suddenly there was a great light around me and the entire place was filled with a strange presence. My heart started to race and I froze. Before me stood a man, dressed all in white, who was shining like the sun. He spoke with such calmness and confidence. His words were clear, but at the time their meaning was not.
“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
The message surprised me, what did he mean, favored one? Me? Favored? By whom? I had so many questions and yet the words seemed to fail me. He went on.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of His father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
The message was so powerful I knew it must be important and true, and yet questions flooded my mind. Why me? How was this even possible? I was not even married yet, I was still a virgin. My mind raced as I tried to make sense of what the angel had just said to me. I knew my life would be forever changed by this.
I asked him how this could be possible; his response overwhelmed me.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy-the Son of God.”
I was so overwhelmed but I knew what he spoke must be truth. There was no other explanation. So I responded with as much strength and courage as I could.
“Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
And just as quickly as he appeared he was gone. My life was forever changed. Never again was I the same girl I had been before that night.
Over the next 9 months every fear, insecurity and question possible came through my mind at one time or another. How was I supposed to be the mother of the Son of God? How was I supposed to raise this child who was going to be King and reign over the house of Jacob? What would this child be like? Thought after thought, question after question. I would sit and ponder these thoughts for hours and sometimes days, not knowing what to expect or how my life would change once this baby was in my arms.
Every thought flooded back into my mind as I stood at the foot of the cross looking up at this man, my son, who had been the child in my arms. Tears streamed down my face as I remembered wrapping his tiny body in cloths and placing him in the feeding trough the night he was born. Sorrow filled my heart as I recalled the words he spoke when he told me of a time to come where he would suffer and be bruised for the sins of the world. It started to become clear. All too clear, and yet too much to bear to watch. Words did not seem necessary in the moment. Knowing the life he lived and everything he had ever said was completely true and beginning to take place, words failed me. I stood silently, pondering, once again, the meaning of the life he had lived and the purpose for which he had been born.
His words about his suffering and death started to make sense now. This child that had spoken with such love and truth at such a young age was now hanging on a tree bearing the guilt of all men. I had watched him for 33 years live a life dedicated to humility, love and service. He had never spoken harshly or disobeyed a single word Joseph and I had given. He was meek and humble yet filled with a wisdom we could never understand. We had tried to teach him all that we knew and had taken him to the temple year after year to be raised up in the faith, yet he always seemed to be the one teaching others. He was such a leader and the people would sit and listen as he spoke with wisdom, even from a young age. I knew he was different from the moment I held him for the very first time.
And yet now here he was, being rejected and hated by the religious leaders and crowds. My heart was torn apart watching as he suffered and was gasping for breath. I knew the end was near. And yet the message of the angel stuck in my mind. “His kingdom will have no end.” This was only the beginning. This man, my boy, was something so much more. He was my child, my son, the one I laughed with and played with, the one who I watched run around and dig in the dirt, and I sang to sleep night after night. This was my son, and my Savior.
I stood there weeping, overwhelmed, once again with sorrow and grief, but there was a feeling of hope that filled my heart. He had spoken of this day many times and I had never understood until now. The Son of God had changed my life forever and was about to change the course of the world.