Mary Did You Know?

MaryAndJosephby Deana Chadwell12/21/15
That song has been reverberating in my head for a couple of weeks now. “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?” Did you know that “when you kiss your baby’s face, you kiss the face of God?” What did Mary know, and how could she have known it?

Gabriel told her the good parts – that He would be called “Son of the Most High.” He told her that He will sit on David’s throne perpetually (Luke1:29-33). The only hint she has of His eventual horrifying death is in the name Jesus. Yeshu’a, Iesous – or God Delivers, God Saves. Gabriel told Joseph that the name meant, “he [who would] save his people from their sins.” We can suppose that Joseph mentioned this to his wife.

But could she have known how He would do that? Could she have known he would be the Lamb of God, sacrificed on the Temple altar on Passover? Quite possibly, depending on how much she knew of the ancient scriptures. She was, however, only in her early teens when this birth took place, she wasn’t from a wealthy family, and she was female, so it’s not likely that she’d had much education, however, she may have been paying attention – many of the old prophesies were common knowledge among the Jewish people.

She wouldn’t have known that He would “one day walk on water” (or calm the storm, or that because of Him

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak…

– those miracles weren’t mentioned in the prophesies, but she would have known that the baby she would “deliver, would one day deliver [her].” The 9th chapter of Daniel makes that clear. She would have understood that kissing her baby would also be kissing “the face of God. ”Psalm 2:7 tells us that, and Gabriel had told her that this baby would be “called the Son of the Most High.”

The book of Isaiah tells us much of what would happen to this son– that He would be rejected by His own people and hated by many, that He would take the place of the Pascal Lamb – the sacrificial Passover Lamb, that He would be pierced, but that His bones would not be broken. If Mary had only read the 53rd chapter of this prophetic book, she would have known much of what awaited her first-born son. I hope she didn’t know; no mother should have that hanging over her head.

She no doubt was aware that both she and her fiancé Joseph were descended from King David, and that the Messiah would come from his line and one day rule on his throne – an eternal throne. She may have heard the prophecy about the baby being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and that He was to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:13 and 14). We can assume she would have found that comforting. I know that if I’d had that conversation with an angel, I would have later wondered if I’d gone nuts; any confirmation would have been welcome. And that three-day, mid-winter trip on the bony back of a donkey when she was 8+ months pregnant must have been awful – traveling so far from everything that was familiar, facing the prospect of giving birth before they could return home, far from any known midwife, with only her new husband to help. I can’t imagine. Ah, Mary, did you know what you’d walked into?

Could she have possibly understood that her son, of His own free will, would on Passover, the year He turned 33, allow Himself to be beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a cross and left to hang there while He suffered the penalty due all of us for our sins?

Could she have had a clue that this child she had born while she, herself, was still a child would be the pivot point on which all of human history would turn?

Could she have had even an inkling that 2,000 years later much of the world would celebrate this ignoble birth in a stable-cave outside a tiny hamlet south of Jerusalem?

Did she grasp the fact that, while her baby was a real human baby, He was also “the Lord of all creation?”

How could she have comprehended such a profound and puzzling concept as the hypostatic union?

How could she have wrapped her young mind around the idea that her son would be the eternal King of the Jews?

How could she have comprehended that the “sleeping child [she] was holding [was] the Great I Am?”

And what do we know? We know, or have the opportunity to know, everything Mary could have known that day Gabriel came to call. We can also know that the Old Testament prophesies about the First Advent all happened – the birth in little old Bethlehem, the lack of room in an inn, the swaddling clothes (actually death wrappings similar to those Christ’s body would one day be bound in), and the star and its appearance over the tiny town. All of the minute details about Christ’s final week in Jerusalem – His Palm Sunday entrance on the white donkey, His arrest, illegal trial, His crucifixion on Passover, fulfilling the very purpose of that feast day set in motion as the Jews left Egypt almost 1500 years before — to say nothing of His resurrection.

And we know bits and pieces from non-Biblical historians writing not long after these events – Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, and several others all mention this amazing man, a man whose Roman following, just 20 years after the resurrection, had become so influential that they had to be expelled from Rome – in spite of horrible persecution their devotion to this obscure man from Galilee just kept growing. This, more than any other evidence convinces me of the resurrection. Why else would thousands and thousands of people go willingly to grizzly deaths unless they were very very sure that it wouldn’t really be death?

We can know now much of what Mary couldn’t have guessed. Because of the Pauline Epistles and the Revelation of John we can know quite a bit about when her Baby Boy will turn up in history again – information she knew a little about – that He will come back for His church, and return again to rescue His land of Israel and that He would “one day rule the nations.”

Dear young Mary, lying exhausted in the hay, holding the most important baby ever born. What a burden for a teenage girl far from home. What dread and wonder she must have held in her heart. And what joy. Someday her Son would heal all the wrongs of this world and the lion would lie down with the lamb.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and thank you for reading. dc


Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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7 Responses to Mary Did You Know?

  1. Rosalys says:

    And a merry and joyful Christmas to you, Deana, and everyone else here at ST!

  2. Skip Hill says:

    Thank you for the faith inspiring perspective. I’m one of those scientific engineer types like Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons that says (in my words) “God has not graced me with the gift of faith”. Yet I experience get a deep sense of satisfaction?, something, imagining what people of great faith might have been thinking about. This one was particularly moving.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I liked that explanation from Robert Langdon, although it seemed like he was just being polite. Beats the heck out of today’s in-your-face atheists though.

      Deana is one of our lights here for as long as she remains here. StubbornThings is not a religious site by any means. But the day “science” can lay claim to explaining anything (rather than describing the after-the-fact effects of what-already-is) then we can stop exploring the Big Questions, faith being one of those ways of exploration.

      As John Lennox mentions in one of his books, and I roughly paraphrase, it’s one thing to describe the attributes of an electron. It’s another thing to imagine what gave that electron existence and its attributes to begin within. That is, there is the question of agency which science ignores (rightly, because it can only measure after-the-fact). The religious-like belief in the multiverse theory attempts to do away with this problem, but is just a dishonest dodge, at best.

      The mistake made is that few these days have the humility of Robert Langdon. Instead of admitting that science can’t know everything, these High Priests of Materialism declare that anything science cannot measure is therefore a meaningless question.

      Science deals with measuring things after-the-fact. And there is great power and knowledge to be found in that. But only within a certain sphere and that sphere is limited. But that sphere can gain the illusion of completeness if one blots out all that science doesn’t cover by worshiping at the altar of materialism. This fundamentalist-type worshipping is often taken to it logical conclusion, eliminating anything science can’t illuminate, such as our own minds which are typically dismissed as an “epiphenomenon,” an inconvenient sludge on the clear waters of scientific reductionism.

      Still, The Big Questions remain elusive as ever. From an objective point of view, does this religion or that religion have it right? How do we know? How would we know? Faith therefore equals trust to a large degree, a belief that it will all somehow work out, that there is an overall purpose in the macro even though the micro often presents itself as anything but a nicely packaged and purposeful benevolence.

      That is to say, the Christian faith is of this belief. Others believe the world is something to be conquered, its people enslaved in one all-encompassing totalitarian system (Islam). Christians, on the other hand, believe we have been given free will and some amount of agency and therefore that to fulfill our purpose, we must be free to choose to a large extent (and be responsible for those choices). We are Children of God, not cogs in some oppressive political-religious or secular-progressive system where human value is measured only in terms of how worldly power structures may be enhanced.

      So a Merry Christmas indeed to one at all. People such as Deana I think have some inkling at the stakes we are involved in…and the many false gods who populate our degraded and quite Orwellian pop culture.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Science doesn’t merely explain things after the fact, but uses those observations to make predictions that can be tested, and if validated (as CAGW has not been, for example) they can be used to make further predictions. The important point is that science and religion deal with different spheres of knowledge. When religion tries to cross over into science (e.g., “scientific” creationism) or science tries to cross over into religion (e.g,, Richard Dawkins and company), it doesn’t work very well.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          One could say that science finds mathematical correlations with the material aspects of the universe — a correlation that honest scientists will admit is astonishing that it should even be so.

          This built-in predictability of matter/energy does indeed allow for predictions. But the bottom line is, nothing is actually explained in terms of why any of this should be. Because there is so much to discover (and invent!) via the creative power unleashed by this correlation of mathematics and the attributes of matter and energy, it’s easy to suppose that somehow our minds are inventing or discovering these things. The truth is, we learn only how to apply what already is. We don’t invent electricity, gravity, the attributes of matter or energy, or even the remarkable fact that the material aspects of reality have a mathematical corollary. But in some sense when we create, say, Lego building blocks, we are playing the role of an intelligent designer…minus the ability to make the matter and forces in the first place.

          Even this mathematical corollary has been reduced down by the reductionists to absurdities. It is assumed, quite naively I would say, that eventually the “laws of physics” can be reduced down to one equation that will then explain everything. This is on the face of it absurd. Would that equation explain love? The taste of vanilla? Could it explain itself?

          What we actually find instead are what are apparently twenty or more hard-wired constants that the universe obeys. There is no present reason to believe that these constants derive from anything but mind. This, again, is the reason the absurd multiverse theory is proposed by the High Priests of Materialism. It’s a way to try to get around what appears to be agency.

          I don’t agree with the crossover question. Major Christian scientists, such as Pascal and Newton, believed that a rational Creator created the universe, therefore the universe was open to rational discovery and observation. This is quite in contrast to most human cultures previously whose general belief was that there was nothing above nature, no possible designer, and therefore all was considered willy-nilly, so why bother to look for some deeper correlations? And thus it is arguable that a belief in a rational Creator kick-started the science we know now…a science grown arrogant and that has uprooted itself from its founding premises.

          Science inherently deals with metaphysics. That this current crop chooses atheistic materialism is not inevitable. There is no separating the material from what we think about the material. The myth that we can, and should, I think is an idea forwarded by the High Priest of Materialism.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Science is good on “what”, and at least fairly good on “how” and “when”, but can’t handle “why”.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              The five Ws of journalism (in theory…we don’t really have much journalism anymore) is “Who, What, Where, When, and Why.” Those are fairly clear distinctions when reporting on some human event. Jane (who) drove her car through the wall of a Starbucks drive-through (what) in Seattle (where) yesterday (when) because her brakes failed (why).

              As for metaphysics, science, and philosophy, I find those distinctions to be more difficult. “Why” can be explained in terms of the motivations of a Creator for creating everything — an ultimate why. Or the “why” can be told in terms why a rock falls when you let it go — a proximate why.

              But even with the proximate why, we will wonder why gravity has the power that it does. And then scientific inquiry can’t help but work its way up the ladder and come to the realm of Ultimate cause….even if their atheistic/materialistic metaphysics demands that the Ultimate cause be some formula that can be written on the back of an envelope.

              Still, a wise and reasonable man can understand why the atheistic/materialist mindset exists. Often in the past people have (as they do in Islam) leapt straight to God, ignoring the agency built into nature, as the “why” of things. Why did the apple file? Not because of gravity, but because Allah willed it. In the Judeo-Christian view of things, the Creator stands outside his creation. They are not the same thing. So it is quite possible to get run over by a bus (or be the only surviver in an airplane crash) and not have it be “God’s will.”

              It is in these areas where I think science and religion compete…based on simplistic or incomplete metaphysics. A Christian who understands the distinction between the Creator and his creation (nature) might wonder why nature is so red in tooth and claw, but he doesn’t necessarily blame God for a mountain lion killing his goat.

              Certainly before the Judeo-Christian view of things it was common to believe that gods inhabited nature. There was a sun god, a mountain god, a water god, a god of war, a god of love, a god of wine, etc. The metaphysics, as with today’s atheist-materialists, was completely naturalistic. Whether admitted to or not, nature was taken as a given….and that’s a rather large thing to assume.

              Obviously there were some religious authorities who did resist this de-mystification of nature. But we have lost our Thomas Aquinas. We have lost our ability for wisdom and thinking about things in terms more complex than soundbytes. There were plenty of Jewish and Christian scientists who were founders of science who had no problem parsing the difference between the Creator and his creation even while noting the fuzzy edge. If God can perform miracles, who really knows if some event was completely “natural”?

              Today, atheistic-materialists have rammed the de-mystification of nature to the other extreme. There’s the one extreme where “Allah” is said to cause everything and the other extreme which says there is nothing but nature. The former leaves no room for nature, let alone human will, and the latter leaves no room for human will as well. Anything (including mind) that can’t be measured by science is said to either be unimportant or an illusion.

              Both extremes are particularly dehumanizing….and stupid.

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