Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mary's Easter

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man? ” The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth — even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38 HCSB)

I often wonder about Mary. I wonder about how freaked out she must have been to (1) have an angel visit her, (2) learn that she would get pregnant without actually, well, you know, and (3) know that the child she would carry, birth, and raise would be God in human form. 

I wonder about what went through her mind. Did she even consider saying no?
Ummm... Mr. Gabriel, sir, with all due respect, I think I'll pass on this opportunity. You see, this just seems a little much. I mean, I'll help out in any way I can, but this whole getting pregnant out of wedlock thing is dangerous business around here. Did you know I could be stoned to death for that? And that's only part of it... This will be God that I'm supposed to be raising. I don't know nothing 'bout raising no babies! What if I do it wrong? He's going to know everything... Like... Everything... That's a little overwhelming for me. I know this girl, Sarah, though. She lives down the road. She's engaged to the town's candlestick maker. She has a terrible singing voice, but otherwise she's pretty awesome. Why don't you go visit her??

Even if this went through her head, she didn't say it. She didn't shy away from the danger of a seemingly impossible situation. Instead, she was obedient. And with her act of instant obedience, the terrible beauty of the Easter story began to form.

Fast forward a few years. Jesus has begun predicting his own death. Mary knows it's true. Even though others doubt Him a little bit, shrugging it off thinking that he's probably just being a little over dramatic, she knows. She's heard His teaching for years... Since he could talk, actually. And she knows the implications of the predictions. Her son will die. Her heart skips a beat, wrapped in anxiety and fear, dreading the days to come.

She watches Him with pride, knowing that He will not shy away from the danger of such an impossible situation. Knowing that with each act of obedience to His father, the time of His death draws closer. Her heart is breaking, screaming for everything to stop so that she can once again shelter her little boy, protect Him. But in her mind she knows that God is faithful. He has shown Himself to be worthy of her trust, her faith, her all... He has never failed her before, even when there seemed to be no way.

She watches her baby's blood spill to the ground. She watches Him falter and fall to his knees. She watches as they drive spikes into His hands and feet. Her own knees buckle and give way beneath her as His cross is dropped cruelly into a hole in the ground. Her stomach jolts inside of her as she watches her baby writhe in agony, trying to breathe. And her heart feels as though it is ripped from her chest when she hears His proclamation, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," and goes limp as He dies there before her. 

I can only imagine the terror that she experiences as she watches this horror story play out in front of her. The grief that enfolds her, knowing that she has seen her precious son for the last time. That she will never again hold his hand, hug his neck, hear his voice, see his face. I can only imagine the hopelessness that tears at her soul as she prepares him for burial, wondering why God did not intervene to save His son... HER son. I can only imagine the feeling of abandonment that drove its wedge deep into her heart as she heard the stone being rolled into place and the tomb being sealed off.

And then nothing. For three days she walked through life in a haze. Accepting condolences, but never really hearing. Returning hugs and handshakes, but never really feeling. Eating and drinking to nourish herself, but never really tasting. Walking, but neither really knowing nor caring where she was going. 

It. Was. Over. 

And then she heard a familiar voice. A voice etched so deeply into her mind, her heart, her soul... Her son's voice... Jesus's voice. Did she dare turn around? Did she dare believe that it was possible? 

For nothing will be impossible with God.

I can only imagine the joy, the hope, the love, the relief that exploded in her heart at that moment. As she felt his scarred palms, cupped his face in her hands, and kissed her baby's cheeks... As she experienced her moment of salvation, as she wept over her son, her Lord. 

May Mary's Easter be my own. May I feel her horror as our Lord was tortured and crucified. May I know her grief as He was laid in the tomb. And may I experience her joy, hope, and love that He offers as I hold the hands that have conquered death and the grave. 

We serve a risen Savior, my friends. Glory be!!

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