Published on May 12th, 2013 | by Bethanie Ryan1
The Self-Sacrifice of Mary
Metallic Figurine of Mary and the baby Jesus
Imagine for yourself: A 13-year-old middle-eastern girl sitting at home, minding her own business. Maybe she’s doing chores. Maybe she’s studying. It won’t matter in a few moments what she is doing, because her life is about to change forever.
An angel comes to her. Now, she’s heard about angels from her parents and from services in the synagogue. She knows that angels are messengers from God. She’s heard about Abraham and the three messengers (Genesis 18). She knows that angels bring news of new life (Genesis 18:10) and of destruction (Genesis 18:20). What will this angel tell her?
The angel says, “Hail! The Lord is with you!”
The Lord is with you, what is that supposed to mean?
“Don’t be afraid,” the angel adds, “you have found favor with God. 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 David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary had heard of the Lord opening wombs that are barren (Genesis 18:10, Genesis 25:21, Genesis 29:31, Genesis 30:22, Judges 13:3, 1 Samuel 1:19), but to make a virgin pregnant? She asks, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”
The angel points out that her cousin who was barren is now pregnant. If God can do this, surely He can do as He has promised to her.
In this time period, pregnancy outside of marriage was not as common is it is today. Mary’s pregnancy would be taken as evidence that she had committed adultery and she could be stoned to death. But Mary believed in what the angel had said and believed that God would protect her. She said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Hence began the most important chapter in the history of the world. Mary risked her own life bringing Jesus into the world. Let alone the risk of stoning, the maternal mortality rate was through the roof in this time prior to modern medicine like antibiotics and blood transfusions.
She wasn’t just agreeing to 40 weeks and a dangerous delivery either. She was agreeing to a lifetime of change. She had to raise him. She had to follow him as he traveled the countryside preaching and healing. She had to watch her Son die.
Today is Mother’s Day. Women daily make sacrifices like Mary made in giving birth, raising a child and, sometimes, even tragically seeing that child die. Motherhood requires a complete self-sacrifice, a complete emptying of the self, to make room for new life to grow and prosper. It is one of the hardest, and the most rewarding, things that a woman can do.