One thing I appreciate about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that He is always teaching me and giving me new insights in my spiritual life, both through His Word and through life experiences. This year He used the pregnancy of our eldest daughter and the birth of our first grandson to cause me to reflect on the birth of Christ from a fresh perspective.
Although our daughter greeted her pregnancy with excitement and anticipation, she also voiced concern and a need for support. She had many questions and faced many unknowns because it was her first pregnancy.
The Book of Luke records several reactions Mary had to the angel's announcement:
Luke 1:29 - "Mary was greatly troubled. . . and wondered."
Luke 1:34 - "How will this be?"
Luke 1:38 - "I am the Lord's servant."
It's difficult for me to imagine everything Mary had to take into consideration when she heard the angel's announcement. Not only did she face the usual questions about pregnancy and child birth, but she also faced the possibility of losing her fiance and being publicly shamed. She was a young woman, engaged to be married. If the baby wasn't Joseph's, the natural assumption would be that Mary had committed adultery. Joseph could choose to divorce her and she would face public ridicule and rejection from those she loved. She also risked not having the support she needed for her pregnancy.
I had the privilege of being present for the birth of our grandson. I drove our Grand Caravan 40 kilometers to the hospital, and was greeted by a cheerful receptionist who directed me to the maternity ward. The spotless labor room had a comfortable bed for the mother-to-be and a separate bed for the baby, with all kinds of knobs and switches. A container of ice water had face cloths we placed on my daughter's forehead. The nurse and doctor were attentive, explained procedures, and provided pain medication.
Luke informs us that Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a distance of about 130 kilometers or 80 miles. We are not told how they traveled, but it is likely they made the journey on foot. (As our family went through an advent calendar this year, we discussed whether or not Mary rode a donkey. Our kids insisted she did. We discovered there is no mention of a donkey in any of the Biblical accounts of Christ's birth.) Traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem would typically be a week-long journey on foot. We are not told how many days Mary and Joseph traveled or where they spent the nights. This type of journey seems incomprehensible to me, even without pregnancy involved. Mary was at least eight months pregnant when she made the journey.
|Picture from Pixabay|
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:6-7).The Bible makes no mention of anyone helping Mary with the birthing process. Perhaps her bed was a cloth thrown over straw. How long was she in labor? We are not aware if she had any way of reducing the pain. Did Joseph cut the umbilical cord?
|Me holding my grandson, Dane.|
I am looking forward to watching my grandson grow up. Will he be shy or outgoing? What will he be passionate about? My hope and prayer is that he will come to understand and accept the amazing gift of salvation God provided through Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.