Mary had been taught the importance of purity. The law which had been given to Moses by God was clear, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). The consequences were severe: death by stoning. She had willingly remained a virgin.
How startled she was when the visitor arrived! Like no other visitor her parents had entertained, this visitor was none other than Gabriel, the angel of God. In her astonishment, she heard him speak, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28, KJV). She was frightened. She didn't understand. She was highly favoured? She was blessed? Before she could formulate a single word, the angel continued, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:30b-33).
Unbelievable! She had been chosen to be the very mother of the Messiah! It still didn't make sense to her. She wasn't yet married to Joseph. She verbalized the question that had been troubling her, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 2:34b). The angel's reply shared God's brilliant plan, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:35-37).
She was a young lady engaged to be married. Her plans were turned upside down. How would Joseph respond to the news that she was expecting? Would he believe that an angel had appeared to her? Would he believe that she was of child by the Holy Ghost?
Instead of selfishly holding on tightly to her plans, Mary sacrificed them to the Lord. Her response stands out as one of willing surrender to the will of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1: 38a).
No indication is given that Mary bemoaned her circumstances. She had every reason to be terrified of being stoned. If Joseph didn't believe her, she would face a death sentence. Surely she would be ostracized and looked down upon. Everyone knew she wasn't married yet. Imagine the scornful glances cast Mary's way as she went about her daily chores. The rumors that circulated about her.
Oh, to adopt Mary's spirit! A spirit of unreserved surrender to the will of our Master. Even when it involves hardship and ridicule. Even when the rumors are flying. Christmas is the perfect time to reflect on God's amazing love for us. After all, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
God gave us the ultimate 'gift' of His Son that very first Christmas. Living for Him is a small 'gift' we can give in return. Will you surrender to His plans for you?