“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus’.” Luke 1:30-31
Ashley and Chris are so excited about baby Rachel, and they still have five months to wait. They’ve ordered nursery furniture, picked out color themes, and everyone is already buying cute little clothes, diapers, and baby wipes.
They have baby ornaments on their Christmas tree and are counting the weeks until she’s here. Twenty three left right now!
There are baby showers being planned and some very excited grandparents and friends! It’s such an exciting time!
But the Lord impressed on my heart this morning…how do you think Mary went through while expecting her baby some 2,000+ years ago? What were she and Joseph doing to prepare?
In all the stories and messages I’ve heard about Mary and how she may have felt about being an unwed teenage mother at a time when that was probably almost the worst sin a woman could be in, I’ve never heard anyone speak on this particular subject.
How would Mary and Joseph have prepared for Jesus’ arrival?
Mary was engaged; not married yet. She should’ve been planning for her wedding, sewing her wedding garments and discussing food for the feast afterwards.
But then the news…an angel told her she was going to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and have a baby boy. Joseph had nothing to do with it, and since they weren’t even married yet, well…. There were no pregnancy tests needed; it just happened in the blink of an eye, and she was pregnant. No other confirmation had been needed.
There is no mention of Mary’s parents in the Bible. What did they say and think when she told them she was pregnant? Did they believe her story? Let’s face it, as parents, would you believe her story? Or did they blame Joseph for taking advantage of their daughter? Or even worse, think Mary had been with someone else? Can you even begin to imagine the conversations that probably went on for weeks in that household!?
Maybe that’s why she went away to visit her cousin Elizabeth for several months…to hide her condition along with her growing belly. And possibly allow her to come back and tell everyone she and Joseph had been quietly married during that time, even though traditional Jewish customs would probably never have allowed that. There would need to have been a formal celebration!
Scripture tells us Joseph didn’t believe her either, and was ready to walk away from her until an angel told him in a dream that Mary was telling him the truth. So he stayed with her, and I’m sure everyone was relieved. Suddenly Joseph had not only a bride-to-be, but a baby on the way! We aren’t told at what point Mary and Joseph were actually married; I’m sure they were, but most likely not in a formal public wedding celebration. I can’t help but wonder if Mary regretted not having the weddings all the other girls of that time had? She was a typical young girl; surely there were times she must have looked back and said “what if?”
And physically, how did Mary feel during her pregnancy? Our daughter has been sick almost every day since she got pregnant. Very sick. Even the nausea medicines don’t always work. Back in Mary’s time, doctor visits didn’t happen for pregnant women. If they were sick during the pregnancy, there were natural remedies to try, but if they didn’t work, the mom had no choice but to bear it and continue on. There was no such thing as pre-natal care or regular exams to check on the baby’s progress.
They didn’t have to wonder about the sex of the baby at least. The angel had already told Mary, along with the name she was to give him! They didn’t have to spend weeks discussing who to name him after. And today’s popular gender reveals? Back then there was no way of knowing whether it was a boy or girl until the baby was born.
Ashley and Chris have already picked out their nursery furniture and color scheme. Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have planned a separate nursery for baby Jesus; they’d keep the baby near them. Usually there were no separate sleeping rooms for children until they were older, and there were certainly no baby monitors to check on him.
And Ashley and Chris are already collecting clothes for baby Rachel. Adorable little outfits…I wonder if she’ll ever be able to wear them all! But when Jesus was born, Mary dressed him in swaddling clothes, which were actually long strips of cloth babies were wrapped in; only the wealthy could afford clothes for their babies and very young children. They certainly had no collection of cute little outfits for him to wear!
Baby showers as we know them were non-existent. Perhaps a few women got together and brought things for her that she could use, but there were certainly no parties, no games, no party favors. No fancy decorations. And all the incidentals new parents need today…like car seats and strollers to keep the baby safe when traveling…after his birth, Mary carried Jesus in her arms while she rode on a donkey!
Her labor and delivery was without any pain killers; it wasn’t even in a hospital, and certainly not in sanitary conditions. She had no epidural; no doctors or nurses were anywhere in sight. Joseph had to deliver the baby by himself! He probably had no idea what to do. He was a carpenter. At least a shepherd would’ve delivered sheep, and would’ve known somewhat what to do. How scared do you think he was? As well as Mary, who had probably heard all manner of horror stories about giving birth. She had no idea what to expect. And I’m sure the pain was intense, with Mary screaming while Joseph could only wipe her brow, hold her hands, and pray.
And afterwards, this precious little baby was laid in a manger on a bed of straw, a dirty trough where animals fed. I’m sure Joseph cleaned it up as best he could, but it most certainly lacked basic cleanliness and comfort standards.
Today after the birth of a baby, family and friends are there immediately to visit and meet the little one. The hospital carefully monitors visitors for the baby’s safety and makes sure the baby and parents all have matching name bands. Jesus’ first visitors weren’t family, but total strangers….shepherds who were considered the lowest level of humanity, who had been out in the fields for probably several weeks, and most likely were in severe need of a bath! And when did the grandparents finally get to meet the child?
It’s difficult to imagine what Mary and Joseph went through to deliver the Savior of the World. But I am glad they were obedient, and I am thankful for their sacrifices. Any baby is a precious gift, a miracle…but this one, conceived by an unwed teenage girl and born under some of the harshest conditions we can envision, is truly the greatest miracle the world has ever known.