And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:6-7 (KJV)
The song “Mary Did You Know?” was written by Mark Lowry and has been performed by countless artists. Our favorite is the 2014 rendition by the acapella group Pentatonix, although this 2016 performance by Mark is pretty good. It asks the question of whether Mary fully comprehended who she had given birth to, and what he would accomplish.
A few days before Thanksgiving, my daughter gave birth to her first child. This girl has wanted nothing more than to be a mommy at least since she was 12, so the culmination of this time of waiting has literally been a life-long dream for her. She enjoyed (almost) every moment of being pregnant, but when “the days were accomplished” she willingly left pregnancy behind and welcomed her son into the world.
The day after thanksgiving, she sent me this text, “Not intentionally listening to Christmas music (yet) but Mary did you know totally takes on new meaning for me now.”
If you are a mother, you are probably nodding your head, saying “uh huh”, thinking back to when you first held your precious one. The intangible bond formed in the womb now realized as you were able to hold and stare in loving awe at the miracle of life that came out of your body.
If you are a father, you may remember looking at this little life and suddenly being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the responsibility you now had. You may have been filled with hopes and dreams of all that this helpless infant might become and accomplish.
There is no question that the pathos of the Christmas story touches us at the core of our humanity. It is easy to identify with these newlyweds, even if the circumstances of their expecting are unfamiliar. And while we tend to focus on Mary (and to a lesser extent, Joseph) as they navigated the uncharted waters of being parents to the son of God, there is another parent in this story that we don’t often think about.
This father had perfect knowledge and understanding of all that was about to happen in and through his son. He knew about the joys of first steps and first words; the tears of skinned knees and smashed thumbs. He knew his boy would sit and discuss the holy books with the old men, astounding them. He knew that his son would feed a multitude, walk on water, give sight to the blind and raise the dead. What could make a father more proud?
But he also knew that his son would be rejected by the people he loved with all his heart. He knew that only a few would follow and believe, and that his son, his only son, the pride and joy of this father’s heart, would be beaten and tortured to death. But the worst part was that this father would have to turn his own back on his son and pour out all his wrath over the evil of the world upon him.
Even now as I try to comprehend this, I fall short. To be sure, my sons have known my wrath but it was always because they deserved it. Today, they are fine men who bring much joy to my heart. Could I unleash the full weight of my fury upon them, anger that another deserved? Could I enter into a situation, knowing beforehand that my son would have to die by my hand for the crimes of another?
Whether Mary knew or not what lay ahead of her precious baby, the Father has known from eternity past and chose to create us anyway. Defying all logic,
But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.