Mary and the birth of the Lord Jesus – when God’s plan seems perplexing
I wonder what Mary thought. Not too many months before, the angel Gabriel had visited her to tell her that she, a virgin, was going to have a baby. And not just any baby – this child would be the long-awaited Messiah, the One who would save His people from their sins. She was truly blessed. An unknown girl from an insignificant village was actually going to be the one to carry the most precious child ever to be born.
So can you imagine what was going through her mind as she and Joseph made the long trip to Bethlehem in the final stages of her pregnancy? I’m pretty sure that Mary knew Micah’s prophecy concerning the place where the Messiah would be born – a scan through her song in Luke 2 reveals that she was a girl who was certainly familiar with the Scriptures. But couldn’t they have been asked to make the trip a few months beforehand? Why now, when she was ready to deliver?
Can’t you see them, most likely tired and worn out to the point of exhaustion, making their way to the inn, only to be told that there was no room? Well, surely there’ll be another inn down the road. But no. Nowhere else.
Instead of a private room in an inn, a field. Instead of a cradle, a manger. No midwife – Luke says that she brought forth her firstborn son. In these days of detailed birth plans and comfortable hospitals, the humility and primitiveness of this particular birth is shocking. Even by ancient Israelite standards.
Wouldn’t Mary have wanted the very best for her baby? A suitable room in which to give birth? The most experienced team of midwives in the land? The cosiest blankets and a top-of-the-range cradle? I’m sure she couldn’t understand what was going on. This was God’s Son, the long-promised Messiah, after all. Most likely, she was confused. Saddened. Distraught, even.
How often do we make meticulous plans? Try to make sure everything is perfect? Attempt to keep control of the situation? Then crumble when things aren’t working out?
Maybe small things. Planning the perfect meal for guests, then the meat ends up tough and the dessert gets burnt. Hitting heavy traffic when we have a busy day ahead with no time to spare. Maybe bigger things. Being transferred to another part of the country for work. Your child not getting a place in their chosen school. Sometimes life-changing happenings – dealing with a diagnosis, maybe losing a loved one. Before, all of life seemed to stretch ahead and the future looked so good. Now it all seems so out of control.
How could this, this, be for good? This inconvenience, this major upset, this tragedy.
Mary must have wondered. She knew who the child was. And she knew He was worthy of so much more. But God had His eye on Mary. He wasn’t taken aback or surprised by any of the difficulties she was encountering. A picture-perfect birth was all well and good, but His plan was different.
There was a reason. Maybe Mary couldn’t see it. But God could.
And we can.
It’s found in 2 Corinthians 8:9 – ‘For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.’
All Mary could do was trust. Trust that God was in control. That everything was in His plan. His redemption plan.
Over time, Mary may have come to understand the reason for the inexplicable events of that night. We don’t know.
Sometimes God reveals to us in a small measure why things come our way. Other times, we may never understand the reason for certain events in our lives.
What we can be certain of is that God’s plans are perfect. He is designing a much bigger and grander picture than we can see down here. And when we get to heaven, we’ll only be able to fall down in wonder, and worship, when everything – all our heartache, tears and disappointments – is forgotten as we view with the clearest, brightest vision the light and glory of the plan God had for us all along.