” ‘Let it be to me according to your word.’ ” ~ Luke 1:38b
These simple words were spoken by a young woman named Mary, who was engaged to be married to a carpenter named Joseph, and who was to become the mother of the Son of God. With this statement, she was surrendering to God’s plan for her life, which was about to get rather crazy!
Did it occur to Mary that she would be accused of unfaithfulness to Joseph? An engaged woman, found pregnant? Scandalous. According to Old Testament law, she could have been stoned for that. Joseph certainly had the right to publicly humiliate and divorce her for it. Rumors and innuendos of what kind of woman she was would follow her all the days of her life. Yet, “Let it be to me according to your word.” She trusted God. Completely.
Would I trust God like that? I hope so, but I fear that my head would fill with all the what-ifs and oh-nos and uh-ohs, and I would be swamped by worries and fears. How often does God call me to something and I hesitate? I am so much more like Moses (Exodus 3-4) than like Mary.
We don’t know much of Mary’s background. Apparently she was well-versed in Scripture, for her song, sometimes referred to as “Mary’s Magnificat” and found in Luke 1:46-55, contains numerous quotations from the Old Testament. And we know that she was familiar with prophecy, and she believed the Messiah was indeed promised and would come to save the world.
The New Testament tells us a bit about her life after the angel Gabriel’s visit. We know that an angel, possibly Gabriel again, spoke with Joseph, assuring him of God’s plan for Mary and the Baby, and reassuring him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him (Matthew 1:18-25). We of course are told all the details of the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in a manger, the visits of the shepherds and wise men, and their sudden flight to Egypt when Herod decided to kill all the young boys of the region. Mary remained a virgin until after Jesus was born, but then she and Joseph were blessed with other children: “James, Joses, Judas, and Simon” and unnamed daughters (Mark 6:3). She and Joseph lost Jesus on a trip to Jerusalem when He was a young boy of twelve, and anxiously looked for Him, finally discovering Him in the temple amongst the teachers (Luke 2:41-50). The first miracle recorded in the book of John was done at the request of Mary: Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). There are a few other mentions of Mary, and we are told she was at the cross when He was crucified and died (John 19:25-27) and was taken care of by the disciple John.
As a mother, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain she must have felt, watching her Son suffer and die for the sins of the world. I wonder, did she comprehend that He was paying the price for her own sins, as well? She knew that Jesus was the Messiah – God had told her this and she believed – yet how could she possibly grasp the ways and workings of God’s perfect plan? The grief, the loss, the love of a mother for her child, must have nearly broken her. Like Jesus’ disciples, she most likely had forgotten His promised return to life from the grave.
There is one more little glimpse of Mary that I have always appreciated, even more so once I became a mother. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” ~ Luke 2:19
In the Greek, Mary “syntēreō pas rhēma tauta symballō” in her “kardia”. Syntēreō means to “preserve from perishing or being lost, keep in mind lest it be forgotten”. Pas means “the whole, everything”. Rhēma means “things spoken, words, things spoken of”. Tauta simply means “these”. Symballō means “throw together, bring together, to converse, confer with one’s self”. And kardia means “the heart, the center of all physical and spiritual life”.
Mary kept and preserved all these things spoken, the words and wonders and visits and visions, and brought them into her heart, where she could think on them, speak of them to her own self, and never let them be forgotten. For a mother’s heart brims to overflowing with love for her child, and when there are moments to be treasured, they are indeed tucked away for safekeeping. At certain times they are gently pulled out, a reminder of those little joyous jewels from days gone by, when life gets dark and threatening. Oh what wondrous jewels Mary had stored up in her heart, to think on and speak of and remember and cherish, when life got dark indeed. And think of what other jewels she must have preserved over the years, as she watched Jesus heal and teach and love, and die and then live again!
Never let it be said that Mary was perfect, for she was a person, a sinner like you and me. We are even told she and the rest of the family doubted Jesus and His ministry at times. But there is much you and I can learn from that simple phrase she spoke to the angel Gabriel: ” ‘Let it be to me according to your word.’ ” ~ Luke 1:38b
Simple faith, total surrender to the will of God, complete trust and obedience. Let that be me, Lord!