Written by Brian Johnson
What must it have been like to be Mary?
Her life got turned upside-down when an angel told her that she was going to give birth to God’s son. It almost ended her marriage. It must have strained relationships with family, friends, and neighbors – after all, who would believe such a wild story?
And, then, she has this child, and soon after he’s born, she and her husband take him to the temple – to dedicate him to God – and a prophet shows up. This prophet, Simeon, has been waiting his whole life to see God’s promised savior. And, when Simeon lays eyes on Jesus, he knows that this little child is the one – the one who will set God’s people free. And, so, he glorifies God and proclaims that Jesus will grow up to do God’s work. In the midst of his prophecy, Simeon tells Mary that “a sword will pierce your heart also.”
“A sword will pierce your own heart also.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I can tell you this: being the mother of Jesus must have been a complicated experience. From the beginning, she knows that her son is special – set apart for God’s holy work. Her experience – angels visiting, singing his praises – has to prove to her that God is at work in this child of hers. And, in the words we are reading in worship this Sunday (Luke 1:46-55) she makes it clear that she understands the difference he will make – she knows that her son will challenge the powerful, lift up the lowly, set the captive free, and transform the world.
Her son is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the hope that Mary and her people had been waiting for – counting on – for generations. She must’ve celebrated all of that. And, yet, his life will not be easy – he is rejected, persecuted, arrested, beaten, and crucified. As Mary followed her son’s progress throughout his life, she must have begun to worry for his safety. She must have wondered when that sword would show up to pierce her heart.
We know that Mary was one of Jesus’ earliest disciples. In the book of Acts, we read that she was part of the early church – the woman who gave birth to Jesus became one of his early followers, part of the community defined by his death and resurrection. What must have it been like to be part of a community that told and retold the story of her own son’s death – and to know that his death and resurrection brought life to the entire world?
It was probably like having a sword pierce her heart. And yet, Mary kept walking the road of faith. She saw what God was doing – what God had done – in this child, this man, this Jesus – her own flesh and blood.
What must have it been like to be Mary? I can’t imagine. And, yet, she was faithful to the end. May we learn to have faith like Mary, trusting that God can work resurrection even from the darkness of death.
If you miss any of our daily readings, you can find them archived here. (Readings will be added each day.) We hope these readings will help you encounter God this season!