Bible Society of South Africa

In step with God: Believing is receiving - 15 December 2023

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

19Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.

For Mary, the first Christmas was all about believing and receiving in an introduction to motherhood she would never forget. It demanded of her raw faith, immense trust and exceptional courage, but she was also rewarded with awe-inspiring wonder, and profound joy at what God did for her and her baby; and that was hers to ponder and treasure always.

Has any new mother before, or since, experienced the acclaim that Mary did?

Shepherds visited her newborn baby, bringing tales of the starry skies filled with angels proclaiming his birth, and praising God for his arrival. Wise men from the East also came, and bowed in worship before him. They offered him extraordinary gifts, important to both his life and death, and brought their own miraculous story of a magnificent star that had led them directly to where he was.

As a young mother-to-be she would’ve felt elated at the wonder of carrying a baby, but Mary also felt the weight of this great privilege. God was her peace as she continued in faith, in obedience to him. (Luke 1:38) Like any mother she would have had many moments to treasure and to remember, but what Mary experienced with Jesus went far beyond anything she could’ve imagined. Her life became a continuing journey of grace as she received new insights through Jesus’ birth.

It was Augustine who captured, in part, the paradox of Mary’s unique experience of her Son: “He was created of a mother whom he created. He was carried by hands that he formed …” But it’s the words of a modern song that complete the bigger picture of God’s grace to Mary, with, “this child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Could she have received a greater gift? Her rich, faith-enhancing experience would help her throughout his life.

Truly celebrating Christmas is about believing and receiving; believing in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son born here to free us from the sin of this dark, distracted world, and receiving him into our hearts through faith, just as Mary did. C S Lewis said, “Look for Christ and you will find him. And with him, everything else.”

Have you believed and received God’s greatest gift? Let’s celebrate!

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we wait with the world, with great expectancy, to celebrate this miraculous event of grace from you, may you increase our faith and fill us with inexpressible joy as we receive your precious gift. Amen

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