Day 18

The Angel Visits Mary and Joseph

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan


Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25, Job 33:4

I get a little nervous every time I read the story of Mary getting the news that she will be the mother of Jesus. It’s a nervous excitement, like when something big is about to happen—and you know it will be hard and nothing will ever be the same again. It is a birth announcement, after all, albeit a birth announcement like no other.

But I also get nervous for another reason. I am sure Mary feels honored to have been chosen for this. Surely there were other women who could have been chosen, but God chose young Mary. I imagine she felt a nervous excitement about a visit from an angel and about being commissioned with such a valuable role. This young woman has been chosen to be the mother of the One who will sit on the throne of David, and He “will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

But even so, trouble is coming.

Mary will almost lose her fiancé. Who’s gonna believe she’s pregnant because of the Holy Spirit—unless they, too, are visited by an angel confirming the incredible? She will have to endure a trek to Bethlehem while expecting, and when she arrives, she’ll give birth to her child in a stable. They will have to flee to Egypt because the government will want to kill Him. And although they’ll escape in time, what mother wouldn’t weep over the death of so many babies, knowing it is because of the child nursing at her breast?

Then she will watch Him grow with wide-eyed wonder, before watching Him maligned, mocked, tortured, and eventually killed as a criminal.

As I write all this down, it dawns on me why I get so nervous when reading this story. Yes, Mary is chosen to do the work of the Lord, but integral to that work is suffering. It is not tangential. The suffering is not merely due to the proximity to suffering. This is a situation where you cannot have one without the other.

Far too often I want to be the one chosen, but I am surprised by, and even miffed about, the suffering involved. I want the position of one who is chosen, redeemed, and a beloved child of God, but I am reticent about the cost. A pound of flesh? My comfort? My life?

I want glory without the cross.

Not only am I unlike Mary, who rejoiced knowing she was stepping out of her front door onto a hard road, but I am also unlike her Son. With each step He took, Jesus chose the cross over the glory He had left behind. When I’m gut-level honest, I know I would have probably asked the angel, “What will this ‘honor’ benefit me?” Thankfully, Mary did not ask that question. And thankfully, Jesus has saved us from the sin from which those questions spring so easily.

Thanks be to God that, because of Jesus, we are able to embrace present suffering knowing the glory that is promised to us.

Written by Matthew B. Redmond

Post Comments (5)

5 thoughts on "The Angel Visits Mary and Joseph"

  1. Jeff M. says:

    Father,

    Here I sit feeling a sense of self-pity getting up at 5:00am for the 3rd straight day to go out and do your work. I sit tired, physically and spiritually as well, and then Matt Redmond brings such a good and convicting word like this. Self pity? Suffering? Not at all my life right now yet I’ve found some way to complain and grumble (like another group of folks I know from the OT).

    Lord, this is YOUR work. And you never promised it easy, but You promised it would be filled with trial and hardship. So why am I surprised? You’re not a vicious taskmaster, but the road of discipleship is filled with pain. In this case, early mornings and extra long days in prep for Christmas Eve. Forgive me for feeling sorry for myself…as if I have anything to complain about or be frustrated with!! King Jesus, we get together this morning and sing to You; for You; about You. To praise Your name, sit in the beautiful story of the Bible and the long awaited Messiah! And You have come – for me, for my friends and family, for all of us.

    And yet, we do live in this Already, but Not Yet world. Last night Caitlin’s dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that may have already spread to his lung and liver. You get a diagnosis like that and boy, I feel it this morning. They feel it more – the deep pain of the broken world we inhabit. Lord I pray you would comfort those in suffering – comfort Bill and Caitlin this morning as they hurt, and bring peace in You knowing You’re not surprised but fully in control of all of this. We pray for healing of his body and LIFE!

  2. Andrew says:

    @Jeff M. Just prayed for supernatural comfort for your family.

  3. Curtis Azevedo says:

    In this season I have been shaken to my core and realized I dethrone God through self preservation and security. Ultimately I wanted glory without the cross. This acknowledgement has helped me realign myself, priorities, and relationships. It has been a decent amount of suffering and heartache, but Christmas redeems it!

  4. Matt Baker says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine what Mary and Joseph went through mentally and emotionally being the earthly parents to Jesus. The news of the pregnancy alone would have been enough to shake most to the core. All too often when things get tough, I find myself searching for an answer as to why instead of looking for opportunities to glorify God through my trials. I pray that during my tough seasons, I can be like Mary and Joseph – that I can endure and faithfully do the work he has set before me for his glory.

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