Christmas songs are notorious for getting stuck in your head. It’s as if the eleven pipers keep piping and the twelve drummers keep drumming in your mind. The one song that always does the trick for me also asks the rhetorical question, “Mary, did you know…?” And to prevent the chorus from being on repeat in my head, I decided to think about it and actually answer the question. The answer is both no and yes.
What Mary Didn’t Know
Mary didn’t know that she would ever serve God in this way. She didn’t know that she’d be the means by which the long-awaited Messiah would come into the world. At such a young age, Mary had no idea what God was about to do.
By Jewish custom, a girl would commonly be betrothed (a legal marital pledge) to her future husband at a young age. Scholars believe that Mary may have been as young as 12, but not much older than 14. She was a virgin and was fully dedicated to marrying Joseph. Life was good for this typical teenage girl. Then everything changed.
“And 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 call his name Jesus’” (Luke 1:30-31).
What Mary Did Know
Mary was fearful and confused, overwhelmed and astounded. How could she give birth if she was a virgin? How could she live out this great calling? She could’ve refused, but she knew the Lord had spoken.
By choosing to obey the Lord, Mary knew that tremendous blessings would come by being the Messiah’s mother. We see this in her famous “Magnificat” where she says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior….from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48). But, she also knew that along with the blessing came a burden.
Throughout her life, Mary was ridiculed as an adulteress; it was as if she had a scarlet “A” painted on her back. Imagine the kind of looks she got while walking around pregnant, claiming that the baby was from the Holy Spirit (talk about baby-mamma-drama!). But when Jesus grew up and began His ministry, things really got tough—He was crucified right in front of her (John 19:26). The same soul that magnified the Lord at the annunciation was pierced by a sword at the crucifixion (Luke 2:35). But Mary knew that God’s will was best.
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
What We Know
God’s choosing of Mary at a young age clearly shows that God desires to use young people for His divine purposes. Now, giving birth to the long-awaited Messiah is a pretty big deal. You can’t really top that. But, what we do know is that just as Mary was visited by the angel while being a simple “humble servant” (Luke 1:48), God can use us right where we’re at. Pastor Greg Laurie says it perfectly:
“God chose a young, unknown girl named Mary who lived in a relatively unknown city to bring about the most known event in human history. God uses nobodies to tell everybody about Somebody. God specializes in choosing ordinary people and doing extraordinary things with them and through them.”
God wants to use you in many ways. God has prepared works for you “that you should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Is there a classmate God is leading you to share the gospel with? A friend you need to encourage? Someone you need to forgive (or ask for forgiveness from)? Is there a mission trip God is pressing on your heart? An opportunity for you to give to others? Are you willing to serve the Lord and follow His calling?
This Christmas, let Mary be a reminder that God can and will use you for His glory. Right where you’re at, in your youth, despite your abilities or resources, God can use you! But are you willing to say, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord”?