The following is a first-person account of the Christmas story from Mary’s perspective. For more stories like this, read the short book Christmas Stories.
The day that changed my life forever started out like any other. I had been following my unusual routine of chores, when suddenly I felt the presence of someone else beside me.
Slowly I looked up and there he was. God sent an angel to me and when he appeared, I have to tell you, I was terrified. My heart was pounding, my knees were shaking, and if I hadn’t sat down, I would probably have passed out.
When God draws near, there is something in all of us that assumes the worst. We feel safe with God at a distance, and we fear that if He gets too close we might be in trouble.
But the angel said to me, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Favor simply means ‘grace,’ God’s kindness – not deserved, but freely given, and God was showing grace to me.
Seeing God’s Power
What the angel said next was absolutely stunning, “Mary, you will be with child and you will give birth to a son. You are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord will give him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.”
A child? How can that be? I was a virgin.
A child of mine on the throne of David? How could that ever happen? I come from an ordinary family. We were certainly not the kind who lived in palaces or socialized with kings.
A child who would reign forever? Nothing in this world lasts forever, so how could that possibly be?
But most baffling of all, the angel said that the child to be born would be “the Son of the Most High.” How could any child of mine ever be the Son of God?
The angel had the answer: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”
I still marvel at the mystery of what God accomplished. He caused a new life to be conceived in my womb, and that life was the life of His own Son. It was in and through me that God took flesh and was born into the world as a tiny, helpless baby.
There was more. The angel told me that my older cousin Elizabeth, who had longed for a child of her own for many years, had now conceived and was already in the sixth month of her pregnancy. “Nothing will be impossible with God,” the angel said.
I hardly knew how to respond. What was promised to me was beyond my understanding, and what would be required of me I dared not even think. And yet, at that very moment, I knew that God’s Spirit was with me, and that He would give me all that I would ever need.
“Let it be to me according to your word,” I said. And then the angel was gone.
Elizabeth and Joseph
I decided to go and stay with my cousin Elizabeth, and when I arrived at her house, we were both overwhelmed with joy. “Who would have imagined that after all these years of longing for a child, God would bless you with this marvelous gift,” I said.
Elizabeth looked radiant as she stood in the doorway with the palms of her hands gently placed over the child she was carrying. “When the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy,” she said. That meant that three of us were rejoicing, and there was no doubt in my mind that God in heaven was rejoicing too.
Then God’s Spirit came upon Elizabeth, and in a loud voice she said to me: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child that you will bear.”
How did she know that I was expecting? I had not yet said anything to Elizabeth about the child I was carrying. The only way she could have known was that God had revealed this to her.
Then Elizabeth said some words I will never forget: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
I had already believed that God’s promise would be fulfilled. But Elizabeth came alongside me and strengthened my faith: “Mary, the promise will be fulfilled. What God has said will be accomplished.”
I couldn’t contain the joy that I felt. The Son of God was coming into the world and I was carrying His life within me. My whole being was filled with praise that burst out and overflowed in words that were given to me:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
Throughout my time with Elizabeth, I kept wondering what Joseph would do. We were pledged to be married, and both of us had been eagerly awaiting our wedding day. Joseph was a good man and I knew that he loved me deeply, but I could hardly expect him to grasp what God was doing. I thought that he might divorce me, and if this was the price of the calling God had laid on my life, I was ready to pay it.
So you can imagine my joy when Joseph told me that an angel had spoken to him in a dream. “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife,” the angel had said, “for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. And there’s something else,” Joseph said. “I am to give Him the name Jesus.”
What the angel said to Joseph matched exactly what the angel had said to me. It was another confirmation of God’s promise.
Bethlehem and the Shepherds
Shortly before the child was born, a decree was issued requiring everyone in the country to register in the place where they were born. That meant that I had to travel with Joseph to Bethlehem.
The little town only had one inn, and when we arrived it was already full. So we found a place of shelter with the animals and it was there that Jesus was born.
It seemed strange being there, just the three of us. The greatest miracle the world had ever known lying in my arms and, as far as I was aware, Joseph and I were the only ones who knew what God had done.
But that soon changed. Before the night of His birth had passed, I heard the sound of some men coming toward our shelter. One of them told us that an angel had appeared to them, and that they had all been filled with fear. I smiled, knowing exactly what they had felt.
Then another stepped forward “But the angel told us not to be afraid, and then he said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
A Savior! The angel had told Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.”
God had spoken to these shepherds and I listened intently to what they said. They confirmed again that Jesus is the promised Messiah, that His birth is good news for all people, and that He is the Lord of all.
Everything they said matched what had been revealed to Joseph and to me. So I stored all these things in my memory and pondered them in my heart.
The Temple and the Cross
Some weeks after Jesus was born, we went to the temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice and to present Jesus before the Lord. While we were there, an old man came up to us and asked if he could hold the child in his arms. He told us that all his life, he had been waiting for the promised Messiah and that God had told him he would see the child before he died.
Taking Jesus in his arms, the old man blessed him, and then he pronounced a blessing over Joseph and me.
Speaking words that were clearly given to him by the Holy Spirit, he said, “This child is appointed for a sign that is opposed.” And then, looking directly at me with sadness and compassion in his eyes, he said, “and a sword will pierce through your soul also.”
The child opposed? And a sword piercing me?
There were words that I often pondered, and they painfully proved to be true for Jesus and for me. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. Plots against Him began early in His ministry, and in the end they hung Him on a cross.
I was there. And when the nails pierced His hands, it was as if a sword pieced my soul, just as the old man had said. But the agony I suffered was nothing in comparison to the pain He endured. Jesus bore our sins when He suffered on the cross. He took them on Himself so that we might be forgiven, saved, and at peace with God.
I was overwhelmed with sorrow when Jesus died. But thank God it didn’t end there. On the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and opened its gates for me and for all who trust in Him.
Father, thank you for your grace that is ours in the coming of Jesus Christ. Thank you that He came into the world and died to save every person who will place their faith in Him. Help us to believe that nothing is impossible with You!
This is an excerpt of the book Christmas Stories. Read the Christmas stories from the perspective of 5 different biblical characters, including the angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and even Herod! Taken together, these first-person narratives will help draw you and your loved ones into the story of our Savior’s birth.
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