The Nativity Story part 2:
The Consequences Mary Faced
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 10, 2006
Main Passage: Luke
Last week we began our
message series based on The Nativity Story, and we saw how Mary was
chosen by God to become the mother of Jesus. And we saw that anytime we
are chosen by God for anything, it’s a reason to rejoice. When God
calls us, He calls us for a purpose. He calls us to make a difference.
He calls us to carry on His work and be His representatives in this
world. And so when you and I are chosen by God, it’s a great honour.
Problem is, it can also be a bit intimidating. It can even be downright
scary. I’m sure that Mary, even though she was honoured by God by being
chosen by Him, and even though she willingly participated in God’s plan
– I’m sure that she had some concerns. She had some valid reasons to be
And so this morning, just for the next ten minutes or so, I want us to
talk about some of those concerns and see how Mary dealt with them.
Now, do you remember how Mary found out that she was going to give
birth to Jesus? She was told by an angel – the angel Gabriel. I’m not
sure what Mary was doing at the time… maybe she was cleaning house,
maybe she was preparing supper, maybe she was addressing invitations to
her wedding, maybe she was watching reruns of Saved by the Bell. I
don’t know what she was doing. But whatever it was, it was suddenly
interrupted when Gabriel appeared before her with the announcement.
Not exactly an everyday event. We’ve all heard the story so many times
over the years that we’ve kind of written it off as nothing out of the
ordinary. But really, it was extraordinary. An angel appeared to Mary
and told her that even though she was a virgin, she would give birth to
But she wasn’t the only one. She was also told that her relatives
Elizabeth and Zechariah were also going to have a son. In fact, they
were already six months pregnant! Oh, their son would not be a virgin
birth… Zechariah certainly had a part to play… but the birth of their
son would still be a miracle because they were both old and well beyond
the age they could expect to have children.
Well, this whole experience with the angel was thrilling and disturbing
at the same time, and so Mary decided that she would go and visit with
Elizabeth and Zechariah. Who better to talk to about her miraculous
pregnancy than someone else experiencing a miraculous pregnancy? So
just a few days after the angel’s announcement she set out… a journey
of about 120 km (75 miles).
Well, Mary did find what she was looking for. Elizabeth welcomed her
and encouraged her… they talked about their pregnancies. In fact, when
Mary arrived, Elizabeth told Mary that her own baby leaped for joy
inside of her. Elizabeth understood the huge honour Mary was chosen
for. And so Mary stayed with them for about three months. In fact, she
could have even been there up to the day Elizabeth gave birth to her
child, John… John the Baptist.
But the time had come for Mary to return home. And remember, when Mary
left, she was only a few days pregnant. I doubt anyone at home even
knew she was pregnant. But by now she would have been beginning to
show. How would her family react? How would her fiancé react? Here…
take a look at this…
VIDEO – THE NATIVITY STORY – "MARY ARRIVES HOME" SCENE
If this really was the first time they were finding out about the
pregnancy, I’m sure they would have been shocked. Especially Joseph. I
mean, think about it. He was engaged to Mary. In fact, in their society
engagement was as binding as marriage, just without the sex. Joseph
knew he wasn’t the father, and so as far as he was concerned Mary must
have cheated on him. He had been betrayed.
Oh, and we’re not told anything about how her parents would have
reacted. But think about it. How do you think they would have reacted?
They could have been ashamed of her, they could have been angry, they
could have been frightened about what would happen to her… Take a look
at this scene from The Nativity Story of how her parents may have
reacted when Mary tried to explain how she got pregnant…
VIDEO – THE NATIVITY STORY – “I HAVE BROKEN NO VOW” SCENE
Okay, so that’s a possible conversation Mary could have had with her
parents. And right within that scene we see several of the possible
consequences Mary could have faced because of this pregnancy. So let me
just highlight five of them for you. In your notes…
Potential Consequences – Mary Could Have Been…
1. Accused of
Hey, Mary was still
teenager. And teenagers can come up with all kinds of excuses for
anything. Some adults aren’t bad at it either. “An angel appeared to
you? Sure, that explains everything!”
I mean, would you have believed her? Somehow I doubt it. You would have
been checking to see if she was taking her medication.
I would be surprised if anyone believed her story. Oh, well, her
grandmother might have believed her… “That’s nice, dear”… but anyone
else, they’d think she was loony. Things like that just don’t happen.
It takes a mother and a father to make a baby. I know that because I
used to major in biology. And even though Nazareth would have been a
pretty primitive town at the time, I’m sure they knew it, too.
Obviously, Mary must have been lying. There’s no way her story could be
true. That’s what a lot of people would have thought. That’s one of the
consequences she would have faced.
Along with that, Mary could have been…
2. Treated with
Now, it’s almost in
vogue to be a single parent today. Every once in a while you’ll hear
about a celebrity who decides that they want to have a baby. And
perhaps someday, they’d like to get married, too. They kind of get the
whole thing backwards. In fact, I have friends who are single parents,
never been married. For them, it’s no big deal.
But not in Mary’s day. If Mary had a baby without a husband, it would
certainly be frowned on. She would have been treated with contempt. She
would have been looked down upon, she would have been rejected, she
would have been labelled as immoral.
That’s just the way it would have been. I’m sure Mary had seen it
happen to other people. And so I’m sure she knew that was a potential
consequence she faced.
3. Rejected by
her own family
Again, we’re not told
how her family actually reacted, but I think this is a reasonable
possibility. In fact, I’d say it was likely her family would have
rejected her. Or at least thought about it. As far as they knew, Mary
had brought shame to their family. She had betrayed her fiancé, an
engagement they had probably arranged, and had broken their religious
and cultural rules.
So what could they have done? They could have thrown her out of the
house. They could have disowned her. They could have never spoken to
her again. I hope that didn’t happen, but it certainly could have.
Maybe it did – we don’t know. She could have been rejected by her own
4. Abandoned by
How did Joseph react
when he found out about the pregnancy? Well, we’re told how he reacted.
He planned to break it off with her. He felt betrayed and wanted
nothing to do with her. Now, to his credit, he was going to break it
off quietly so that Mary wouldn’t be disgraced. But he was still going
to break it off. And would have, if not for some divine intervention
which we’ll talk about next week.
But being abandoned by her fiancé was a real possibility that very
5. Executed by
stoning in the streets
If Joseph had decided to
make a big deal out of it… if he had decided to go public about his
apparent betrayal… then there was a good chance that Mary could have
been stoned to death. According to Old Testament law (Deut. 22:23-24),
that was the penalty for an engaged woman who slept with another man.
In fact, both participants were supposed to be stoned.
The only way around this would be if Joseph claimed the baby as his
own. Then they would have both been looked down upon as being unable to
control their hormones, but at least Mary wouldn’t be executed.
Now, next week we’re going to see how God intervened and worked things
out between Mary and Joseph. But at the time, Mary had no way of
knowing how all of this would work out. As far as she knew, a stoning
was a very real possibility for her.
So there were lots of
drawbacks… lots of potential consequences for Mary all because she
chose to go along with God’s plan. In fact, some of those consequences
would have really happened. There were personal and socials costs for
Mary as well as for Joseph.
How did Mary survive it all? Why did she even agree to participate in
God’s plan? I think it’s because she understood this truth… it’s in
to be in the centre of God’s will is no sacrifice, because there’s no
better place to be.
Whatever costs, whatever
embarrassment, whatever humiliation, whatever rejection, whatever
dangers… whatever sacrifice to be in the centre of God’s will is no
sacrifice, because there’s no better place to be.
Mary understood that. How about you? Do you understand that?
When following God costs your reputation, do you understand that it’s
When following God changes your plans for the future, do you understand
that it’s worth it?
When there’s a personal cost, or a financial cost, or a social cost, do
you understand that it’s worth it?
When people insult you and belittle you because of your faith, do you
understand that it’s worth it?
Do you understand that any sacrifice to be in the centre of God’s will
is no sacrifice, because there’s no better place to be?
What did Jesus say about this?
Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)
“God blesses you when people mock you and
persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things
against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very
glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the
ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
I wonder how many people
have bailed on God because they weren’t willing to pay the price. I
wonder how many times people have refused to follow God’s leading
because they weren’t willing to take the risks or face the rejection or
weather the accusations. I wonder what great plans God has had that
never came to fruition because comfort and convenience got in the way.
Mary understood that whatever God requested and required of her was
worth it. And may we learn that from her this morning. May we learn
that any sacrifice to be in the centre of God’s will really is no
sacrifice because there really is no better place to be.