Imagine being that Innkeeper. The usually small, unassuming town of Bethlehem was being over-run by people coming in for the required census. His rooms were already taken by travelers, when this couple approached…the wife, clearly pregnant. The husband pleaded for a place to stay…telling the Innkeeper the time was imminent for his wife to deliver. The Innkeeper hurriedly pointed to the stable where the farm animals were kept and turned away…too preoccupied with everything he had to do. And if Mary and Joseph had told the Innkeeper who this baby was…do you think it would have made a difference? Or was the Innkeeper just too absorbed…too focused on the tasks needed to be done to realize the Messiah was coming? Today, are you so preoccupied with all the things you think need to get done that you’ve delegated Jesus outside to the barn? Are you like that Innkeeper…so focused on your “to do” list that you’re going to miss the Messiah’s birth?
For a moment, put yourself in Mary’s place. An angel has suddenly appeared, telling you that you’re not only divinely favored among all women, but that you have been selected to bear the Son of God…all the while maintaining your pure, chaste physical condition. Being a devout Jewish young lady, Mary undoubtedly would have remembered the famous prophecy of Christ’s virgin birth spoken in the past by the Prophet Isaiah…”The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) But what this angel was telling Mary had to have been just too amazing to fully comprehend. Would you have blindly trusted this angel’s explanation? Or would you have balked after first considering the consequences if you said, Yes…knowing there would be gossip, embarrassment, and heartache ahead?
When the angel came to Mary she had questions, but in the end accepted the unfathomable. With Joseph though, it wasn’t that easy. The very human feelings of hurt and rejection were evident in his decision to divorce Mary quietly. And it certainly was within the Law to dismiss her from the bond of marriage with a Certificate of Divorce for her perceived conduct. But before this could happen, the angel visited Joseph and convinced him that what Mary had told him was true…she in fact had not been unfaithful. The Lord will sometimes give us a promise so wonderful and far-fetched that we can’t put our heads around it either…it’s at that point we will make the decision to either believe God or reject it based on our shallow emotions.
Joseph had the right to give Mary a certificate of divorce if he found anything indecent about her. But the angel again appeared to bring revelation to Joseph’s confused and betrayed mind before he did anything rash. During this “God dream”, the angel gave Joseph details, even down to the name he must call the baby, thus quelling and vanishing all Joseph’s doubts and fears concerning his Mary.
The Holy Spirit gave Elizabeth divine revelation into the miracle of Mary and her unborn child. Elizabeth then bore witness and confirmed Mary’s faith, for it states in verse 45, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” This affirmation was what Mary needed, and during the 3 months she stayed with Zechariah and Elizabeth she was encouraged and strengthened by their kind, wise words…not only marveling at the miracle happening within Elizabeth, but the ever-growing miracle inside herself.
Gabriel’s mission was to deliver a message so wonderful and miraculous, no one could possibly put their head around it. And yes, Mary had questions…very practical ones, but never once did she question the power of the All Mighty and what He could accomplish. In the end, her faith showed through in her statement to the angel – ” I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary’s unwavering faith in her God was evident, even though she might not have understood the process to come.