By Jim Whiteman, Headmaster, Westside Christian Academy
Ah, the profound questions of Mary, Did You Know?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will someday walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy will someday save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.
Thus begins a popular song written by Mark Lowry that our own school’s children recently sang at our recent Christmas concert.
Just what did young Mary know about this baby born without a biological father? Were details of Jesus’ life-to-be revealed to Mary and Joseph? Had they any idea he would heal the sick, raise the dead, calm the storms, feed thousands, confound the Pharisees and die a bloody death among criminals? I suppose we have no way of knowing, but when Jesus was born, I doubt either Mary or Joseph had any idea what was in store.
Scripture does tell us, though, some of what they did know:
- He would save people from their sins (Matt 1:21)
- He was to be “God with us” – Emmanuel (Matt 1:23); the son of God (Luke 1:35)
- He would be great and be called the son of the Most High. And the Lord God would give to him the throne of David… and his kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:32-33)
What Mary and Joseph knew was HUGE and mind-boggling, but scripture doesn’t show they knew the details of what this would mean, just the essentials. God gave them knowledge just when they needed it, often in the nick of time. Joseph wasn’t told in advance that Mary would get pregnant via the Holy Spirit. In fact, he was going to divorce Mary because she was expecting and then the angel showed up. Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem only knowing she would deliver soon. I can only imagine Joseph’s panic when there was no place for them to sleep and to give birth to this “son of God.” But a stable was provided just in the nick of time. “A stable for Emmanuel? This really wasn’t what I was expecting, dear Jehovah,” Mary may have cried to God. Certainly the angel Gabriel had not told them Jesus would be born among the animals, nor that shepherds would visit them.
Apparently, this family of three lived in Bethlehem for nearly two years. God led the wise men to Jesus and then later told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt as King Herod was going to slaughter all males who were two and under. Had Joseph and Mary known this before, I doubt they would have stuck around waiting for special visitors! They would have missed God’s blessing.
Years later, twelve year old Jesus went missing and Mary and Joseph had to search for three days! They discovered him in the temple sitting among the teachers. His mother “treasured up all these things in her heart,” says Luke 2:51. I suspect she thought “What will be next?”
Mary and Joseph knew their son was the anticipated Messiah yet as a man in his twenties he was still a craftsman. I wonder if they thought he would be someday be a political leader to free the Jews as that was a common misconception about Messiah. But his ministry began with baptism, a humble act of submission. Mary, what did you know?
What do we know? Ever wish for the Lord to reveal what tomorrow will bring? Would knowing specifics of the future be a blessing or a curse? Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:34) and to simply trust God for our daily bread (Matt 6:11). What do we know about this Jesus? Likely more than Mary did when her baby was born as we have the whole of scripture and 2000 years of Christian history to see the nature and impact of Emmanuel.
This Christmas you may gaze at the helpless baby as Mary did and wonder what the future will bring in this world of uncertainty. We don’t know the details but we know the essentials. We do know that our Lord is on the throne, that he God with us – Emanuel. He loves us, is trustworthy and his kingdom will have no end.
This Christmas and this new year, hang on to what you do know and let God work out the details.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb? This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.
(from the lyrics of Mary, Did You Know? By Mark Lowry)
Jim Whiteman earned his B.S. from Bowling Green State University; M. Education from Kent State University. He came to WCA as headmaster in 2011 with 18 years of experience as elementary/middle school principal in two area private schools and ten additional years of teaching. Mr. Whiteman also has experience as the chief development officer of a Christian rescue mission. He is very involved in a local ministry for international college students and orphanages in Kenya and India. Life verses include 2 Peter 1:3-9.
This article was originally published in our Excelsior! monthly newsletter.