Would You Have Been #BraveLikeMary?

Dear Christian Sisters,

We left off with Mary asking the angel Gabriel how she would conceive while being a virgin.

When Dr. Bill Creasy teaches on this passage, he chuckles and says that Gabriel blushes as he answers Mary:

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35

Trusting God’s Plan

If I were Mary, I would think that this is all still very puzzling. But then I think about how puzzling God’s plans seem to me every day.

I mean, He has used women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba to accomplish His plan, so certainly His plans will be accomplished.

I just need to trust that God can do anything (Ephesians 3:20).

Confirming God’s Promises

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:36-37

All the relatives knew that Elizabeth was barren, so Mary would understand how miraculous it is that Elizabeth is now pregnant! So through the angel Gabriel telling Mary about Elizabeth, God gives Mary a way to confirm His promises.

Mary takes all this in. She will get pregnant if she says, “yes.” The angel confirmed that.

Considering Societal Consequences of Saying “Yes” to God

But if Mary gets pregnant before she’s married, Jewish Law says that she should be stoned to death.

“If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”
Deuteronomy 22:23-24

Mary must have reasoned that the Lord would not have her stoned otherwise the Messiah would not be born.

But would people believe her when she claimed to be pregnant with the Messiah? What would her parents say? What would her betrothed Joseph say?

She had a decision to make. Will she say, “Yes”?

Dr. Creasy says that all the angels were holding their breath in anticipation.

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38

And all the angels sighed in relief and high fived each other! Mary was the first person to say, “Yes” to Jesus.

Would You Have Said, “Yes”?

Would you have said, “yes”?

Perhaps you would be excited to carry the Messiah. I’m sure Mary was!

What Would Your Parents Say?

But think about what you know about the rest of the story. Do we ever hear anything about Mary’s parents?

No, we don’t. Mary doesn’t say anything about her parents’ reaction to her news. Perhaps rather than telling how negatively her parents responded, she chose to honor her mother and her father by saying nothing.

What Would Your Fiancé Say?

Think about what you know about Joseph’s reaction. He was going to divorce her quietly, so evidently he didn’t believe her, either.

Mary’s parents don’t believe her. Her fiancé doesn’t believe her. And we find out 30-some years later that the people who lived in Nazareth didn’t believe her, either.

What Would Society Say?

In John 8, after He saves the adulterous woman from stoning, Jesus continues to have a conversation with non-believers. In that conversation, they said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God” (verse 41 ESV), which is their way of accusing Mary of fornication.

What Would You say?

So, again, I ask you what you would have done? You’re in your teens. You’re a virgin. You would be facing a society that stones women to death for being pregnant out of wedlock. The Lord asked you to give birth to the Messiah. Would you have said, “yes”?

Would you have been #bravelikeMary?

In Christ,

Cheryl

The Lord Wants to Talk with Us #BraveLikeMary Series

And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him 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; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:28-34

Mary’s question is not one of doubt, like Zacharias’ doubt in verse 18. This is a young woman, a virgin, trying understand how she was going to get pregnant.

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 7:14

Certainly Mary knew the prophesy.

Certainly all the Jews were talking about the prophesy because they would have figured out, based on Daniel 9:24-27, that the Messiah would soon be born.

Certainly all the young women were talking about who would be the chosen virgin and wondering how a virgin would conceive.

Mary doesn’t understanding how this is going to happen, so she asks. This passage gives me peace that it’s okay to ask God how He’s going to accomplish His promises.

The Lord wants to have a conversation with us. He wants us to ask—because He loves us.

In Christ,

Cheryl

God Can Use Anyone’s Story for His Glory

Dear Christian Sisters,

Mary, the center of the #bravelikeMary series, enters the story.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Luke 1:26-27

Certainly Jewish scholars had done the math based on the book of Daniel (9:24-27) and figured out that a woman would soon become pregnant with the promised Messiah.

Young women who were descendants of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16) were all hopeful that they would be the mother of the Messiah.

But she had to be a virgin:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14 NKJV

As you know, many genealogies are listed in the Bible. It’s one of the reasons people find the Bible hard to read. Unless you’re a genealogist (like my mom!), you probably do not get excited about reading a list of names.

But the genealogies become more interesting when you know something about the people in them.

For example, the women listed in Matthew’s genealogy each have an interesting story. Let’s take a quick look at the women named in Jesus’ genealogy:

  • Tamar (Matthew 1:3)
  • Rahab (Matthew 1:5)
  • Ruth (Matthew 1:5)
  • Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6)

Three, maybe all four, of the women were Gentiles! Tamar was a Canaanite. Rahab was an Amorite. Ruth was a Moabite.

Bathsheba may have been a Gentile. Her first husband was a Hittite, so she may have also been a Hittite as well. Also, her name is Canaanite in origin.

I love how God includes non-Jews in His heritage. It reminds me that eternal life is not just for the Jews, but for the all the people.

Non-Jews were included in Jesus’ story to remind us that His salvation is for all people and that God can use anyone for His glory.

Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6 NKJV

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
Luke 2:10 NKJV

Three of the women were not known for their sexual purity. Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba all had their children through sexual sins.

Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute in order to trick her father-in-law into giving her children. Of course this is not God glorifying for her or her father-in-law, Judah (one of Jacob’s 12 sons). (See Genesis 38.)

Rahab was the prostitute who helped the Israelites conquer Jericho. (See Joshua 2 and 6.)

Bathsheba had an affair with King David (2 Samuel 11:1-5), David killed her husband to cover up his indiscretion (2 Samuel 11:6-25), Bathsheba married David (2 Samuel 11:26-27), and she later gave birth to Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24-25), who became the next king even though he was not the oldest living son (1 Kings 2:15).

Even Ruth used her sexuality. She cozied up to Boaz while he was sleeping after he had partied the night before (Ruth 3:1-9).

What can we learn from this?

  • We learn that Gentiles are part of Jesus’ history as well as His future.
  • We learn that Jesus is not borne of perfect people.
  • We learn that even Jesus’ family had skeletons in the closet.
  • We learn that God can use anyone’s story for His glory.

In Christ,

Cheryl

P.S. If you’re wondering why Jesus’ genealogy as listed in Matthew 1 is different than Luke 3, read this article from Jews for Jesus.

An Introduction to Luke (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Dear Christian Sisters,

One of the reasons that I love the books of Luke and Acts is that I imagine that Luke (who wrote both books) was an investigative reporter.

Dr. Luke, Investigative Reporter

Luke is a doctor whom Paul likely sought out for his eye problems. (Why do I think Paul had problems with his eyes? I’ll tell you—after you finish reading this introduction to the book of Luke!)

Paul likely shared the gospel with Luke, since he shared the gospel with everyone he met. Luke then began traveling with Paul, taking care of him, and recording everything that happened.

You can tell that Luke entered the story at Acts 16:9 because he switches from 3rd person in verse 8 to 1st person in verse 10. (Read Acts 16:8-10 for yourself. Note “they” in verse 8 and “we” in verse 10.)

Although Luke wasn’t an eyewitness to Jesus life, we know from Luke 1:1-4 (quoted above) that he interviewed eyewitnesses and wrote down their stories.

The Christmas Story in Matthew

The story of Jesus’ birth is told in two of the gospels: Matthew and Luke. The story as told in the book of Matthew is pretty short and seems to be told from the perspective of Joseph. How did Matthew hear the story? Good question!

We don’t read anything about Joseph after Jesus was 12 years old, so Matthew probably did not have the opportunity to ask Joseph. However, given that Matthew lived near Nazareth, he likely knew the rumors.

My guess is that he asked Jesus, Mary, and Mary’s other children to confirm the rumors. (BTW, I have not researched this question. This is my own guess as to how Matthew found out the details of Jesus’ birth.)

The Christmas Story in Luke

The Christmas story as told in the book of Luke is longer and seems to be told from the perspective of Mary. [Women tell longer, more detailed stories, don’t they? :-)] I imagine that Luke met Mary, mother of Jesus, while traveling with Paul, interviewed her, and then wrote her story in what we call chapters 1 and 2.

So, I like to think of the birth of Jesus as recorded in Luke as Mary’s story.

I find Mary to be very brave, certainly more brave than me. Join me daily for insights into the Christmas story and Mary’s bravery as we read the scriptures together.

Evidence that Paul Had Eye Problems

Are you still curious about Paul’s eyes? Well, here are verses that support the idea that Paul had eye problems.

The Road to Damascus

At Paul’s conversion, famously referred to as “The Road to Damascus” because he was traveling to the city of Damascus when it happened, Paul was struck blind in his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:8). He was blind for 3 days and then something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see (Acts 9:9, 17-18).

Paul Writes to the Galatians

At the end of his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, “See what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand” (Galatians 6:11). This is one of the few letters that he penned himself rather than dictating to someone else who served as his secretary. Presumably, he wrote large letters so that he could see what he was writing.

Earlier in Galatians, Pauls says that the Galatians did not despise or loathe his bodily condition (Galatians 4:14), which indicates that his physical challenge was easily visible, so perhaps his eyes did not look normal.

I Have Eye Problems, Too!

Ha! I can relate to that! I was born with my left eye closed. I’ve had four surgeries to open it up. As a result, it doesn’t like to close. My right eye acts normally. The result? I wink at everyone!

God works everything out for good, though. Russ thought I was flirting with him and asked me out on a date!

Paul Can’t See the High Priest

One final thought on Paul having had eye problems. In Acts 23, Paul is defending himself against the Jewish council and speaks harshly to the high priest (Acts 23:1-5), whom he should have recognized since the high priest gave him letters to take to Damascus (Acts 9:2).

But all of my conjecture about Paul’s eyesight is just interesting trivia to spark conversation while enjoying your coffee.

I look forward to you joining me again as we continue to read the Christmas story in the gospels of Luke and Matthew while gleaning insights into just how brave Mary was.

In Christ,

Cheryl