Scared, excited, nervous. I remember feeling all of those things when I was pregnant with my first son. But it wasn’t until I could feel the flutter of Reuben’s movement inside me that it became real- “I am having a baby. A baby is growing inside of me.” One of the most common experiences for women all over the world yet I had never had a baby before. I had never felt the sensation of a tiny kick inside me, a physical and literal awareness that this thing inside of me was going to change me and my world entirely. This utterly common experience was becoming profoundly personal to me.
Since I’ve had kids I’ve thought a lot about Mary, the mother of Jesus and what it was like for her to give birth to the son of God. Mary didn’t get the experience of anxiously waiting to see a pregnancy test appear with a plus or minus, miss her period or start to get morning sickness as a sign that she was pregnant. Mary had to flee to Egypt to give birth because King Herod was massacring baby boys because he had heard there was a baby who would become a king. If that wasn’t terrifying enough an angel named Gabriel appeared to her as the first sign that she was expecting. Understandably it freaked Mary out. Luke 1:26-33 says that “Mary was greatly troubled at his words, and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” Though she was afraid she went to see her girlfriend Elizabeth that the angel had also said would be pregnant. One MOPS mom, Kelly has said- this was the first MOPS meeting in scripture!”
Mary is so overcome with amazement at God’s goodness to her in choosing her to carry Jesus she breaks into song. And this is what she sings: Luke 1:46-56
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.”
Mary sings this song about Jesus, the son she is going to give birth to that will change her world and our world forever. In Mary’s song she says “he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” The simple message of Jesus is that we recognize that God is greater than us- his ways are better than our ways. We admit that we have been selfish, proud and have sinned against God and against others by rejecting him. Mary sings “his mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation….he has lifted up the humble, he has filled the hungry with good things.”
Mary watched her son Jesus die on the cross. A horribly painful, tragic death. A child she had watched playing in the courtyard with friends, sung to as she stroked his hair at bedtime, laughed as she tickled him, her precious son. That day when Jesus unjustly died the blood that poured out of him was the medicine for the disease of sin each of us have. Jesus lived without this disease of sin and on the cross he took the punishment for all the ways he have hurt God and hurt others by rejecting him. Jesus made it possible for us to have a relationship with God. After he was buried, God raised Jesus back to life giving him the ability to give us new life. And the new life that Jesus gives each day is what not only changes us but the whole world around us as we learn to follow him. The tragedy of Jesus’ innocent death on the cross and his resurrection to life can become profoundly personal to us when we invite him into our lives.
Blog friend, you may have known about Jesus conceptually, grown up going to church, hearing stories about what he taught and what he did. It could be that you’ve known about him for a long time. But just as it is different to know about pregnancy and to actually feel new life being created inside of you choosing to follow Jesus is the same way- it is one thing to know about him. It is an entirely other thing to know him personally as the one who you’ve chosen to lead your life.
Today, if you’re reading this and have never made a decision to let Jesus lead your life I want to invite you to do so. The tragic events of the school shooting in Newton have made all of us realize how quickly life can be taken away. You don’t need to live with him at an arm’s length, clean up your life before coming to him or know about him as some abstract concept or figure. He wants to become profoundly personal to you. He loves you, wants to forgive you and show you how to live God’s way. He wants to transform your life, your family and this broken world we live in. Amidst all the darkness in the world and in our hearts today from the deaths of children, mental illness that leads people to kill, and the blasphemy of religious leaders claiming God’s judgement on our country I can think of no thing to write other than the words of John 3: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
*I shared a reflection similar to this at my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting this past Friday before even knowing about the school shootings. At that meeting, a mom who had come for the first time made a decision to follow Jesus. I wanted to share this reflection because I hope that you too might know the life that Jesus offers.