How Could This Happen?
By Brian Simmons
Life Shift. Sometimes there are those moments in life when everything just shifts.
You’re driving along, and all of a sudden brake lights—and then your front end ends up in the back end of the car in front of you. Life shift.
Your teenage daughter sits you down and says she got a blue plus sign on the white stick she bought at the local CVS; she’s pregnant. Life shift.
Your aging parent gets the results you were dreading—Alzheimer’s, and the next twenty years you’ll be caring for her. Life shift.
And in each scenario you’re left saying, “How could this happen?”
Now imagine you’re minding your own business, and an angel of the Lord appears to you and says, “The Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift. You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus.”
Major life shift! Of course that’s exactly what happened to Mary.
Ever wonder what was going through her mind? Confusion? Nervousness? Excitement? Fear?
Probably lots of the former and lots of the latter because as she said, “But how could this happen? I’m still a virgin!”
You see Mary was most likely thirteen years old—at the most sixteen. Not twenty or thirty like she’s often portrayed in movies and Christmas pageants. Thirteen.
She was also engaged—which in her world meant she and Joseph were legally married, except for the sexual relations part, which came later. And now she was pregnant, which had major social consequences for Mary and Joseph and Jesus. Since Mary and Joseph were legally married, any sexual relations outside that relationship would have been considered adultery—she would have been labeled a sotah, a suspected adulteress.
Immediately after hearing these words from the angel that she was pregnant, she would have connected her pregnancy to being a sotah—and everything that came with it. The humiliation, the shame from a public trial to determine her guilt. She would have wondered how Joseph would respond to the news, being that he was a good Torah-observing Jew. Would he go through with the trial? Divorce her as the Law required? Leave her stranded and financially ruined?
She probably feared for her unborn child, too, for when he grew up. Fear for the taunts and accusations of being a mamzar—an illegitimate child—and everything that label carried with it.
And yet, how did Mary respond?
Let’s be honest, if it was any one of us we might have gotten angry at this life shift. We for sure would have feared its consequences.
Not Mary. Instead she replied, “This is amazing! I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass.” (Luke 1:38)
Instead of yielding to her fears because of her shifted circumstances, she was at peace with them. And that peace gave her the courage to obey, to accept whatever it was the Lord had for her.
May Mary’s example of peace compel us this Christmas season to accept whatever life-shift moments come our way in the coming year. And may we look to her Son, the Prince of Peace, to be our peace.
Excerpted from Brian Simmons and THE PASSION TRANSLATION.
Copyright © 2014 by Brian Simmons. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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Brian Simmons and his wife Candice have been described as true pioneers in ministry. Their teaching has opened doors in many nations to the Gospel. For the last forty years, Brian has been a linguist, pastor, missionary, and speaker and now brings all those gifts together to lead the translation work for The Passion Translation.
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