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Journey to the Manger: Mary

Of all the consecration demonstrated in Scripture, Jesus’ mother, Mary, is perhaps the greatest example. She was a young woman of faith who played the crucial role in God’s plan of redemption by giving birth to God’s Son.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, who was a young maiden, engaged to be married to Joseph of Nazareth. Jewish betrothal carried all the commitment of marriage except living together and sharing the marriage bed. It took a certificate of divorce to break a betrothal. Although Scripture does not name her age at the time of this visit from Gabriel, she would have been young. It was customary for a betrothed maiden to be about 14 years old. She was waiting with anticipation for her wedding day when her life was turned upside down.

Gabriel announced that Mary was to bear a child, who would not be Joseph’s son, but God’s. Gabriel told Mary her son would reign on David’s throne forever in a kingdom that will never end. These are the promises God had given through the prophets concerning Messiah, the Anointed One. The hope of a centuries-old promise were becoming reality, and God had chosen Mary to enflesh Himself in order to redeem fallen humanity. But that was more than Mary knew at the time. It was enough to know that finally, after ages of longing, God was sending Messiah into the world – and He was asking Mary to play the crucial role of bearing His Son.

All this would be accomplished not by the normal process of impregnation. It would be the supernatural work of God’s Holy Spirit in a one-time miracle of a virgin bearing a Son. Faced with this staggering news, Mary did not ask for time to process it all or pray about whether to say yes. Her response was a response of utter trust and complete consecration: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Mary trusted God with her body. She displayed the kind of consecration the Apostle Paul calls for in Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —His good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

In an age when we demand complete autonomy over our bodies – “It’s my body and my choice” – we have Mary’s example. Mary allowed God to make her body His. The baby would be primary, not Mary. Freedom in Christ means we honor God with our bodies, not that we can use our bodies in any way we choose.

Mary trusted God with her reputation. Everyone knew there was only one way for a young woman to become pregnant. Either Joseph was the father or some other man was. We know from Matthew, chapter 1, that Joseph knew he was not the father of Mary’s baby. This was adultery, and was punishable by stoning to death. Joseph was an honorable man, and was considering a certificate of divorce to end the betrothal when He was visited by God in a dream and was told directly that Mary was telling the truth, and the baby she was carrying was God’s and not some other man’s. But that is another story. History and Scripture prove that Mary was not the unfaithful fiancé the gossips might claim her to be. “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

The world may seek to cancel us in untrue, slanderous accusations of being haters because we hold to Biblical standards in morality and marriage. We remain faithful and trust God to establish His reputation through us, whatever the world thinks of us.

Mary trusted God with her future. She had no idea they would flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempt to take Jesus’ life as an infant. She had no idea she would someday stand at the foot of a Roman cross, her heart pierced with agony as she watched them crucify her innocent son. She would have only God’s promises to hold on to when His death seemed to make impossible any hope of His reigning forever on David’s throne. Whatever her future would hold, God would hold her future. “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Whatever the future holds, whatever I am to become, whatever God chooses to do in my life, I am the Lord’s servant. I am His. He is mine. Nothing else compares to that unalterable reality. I believe John Wesley captured this same consecration in the Covenant Prayer he asked us Methodists to pray to our Covenant-keeping God:

I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will. Rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or set aside for you; exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Mary trusted God, and He took her life and used it for His eternal purposes. Through Mary, Jesus came to our world to be our Redeemer. I want to be like Mary when I grow up. I want to live by her kind of consecration. I want to want God’s will more than I want my own. On my best days, I follow her example and seek to live a consecrated life, bringing glory to Christ and not to me. On my worst days, I seek my own will and fail miserably at spending this life He gave me for Him. And yet I walk by faith. I trust God with my life, and I seek to live for Him.

Lord, make me like your humble servant, Mary…


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