Advent Through the Eyes of Mary
I have speculated for years on the means by which Luke presented such a detailed account of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. As I consider every scenario, the only one that makes sense is that Luke interviewed the 60-70 something Mary, recording for us her view of God coming to earth.
After all, by the time Luke came on the scene, Joseph, Mary’s husband, as well as John and his parents were gone. The gospel writer doesn’t give any indication that he’d met any of Jesus’ family prior to doing his research for the great Theophilis. And while there may have been other priests and remnants of the family who knew bits and pieces of the story, it’s likely that Mary was the only one with all the details.
So for this Advent we are going to look at the season through the eyes of Mary. We’ll look at Luke’s account as if we were there listening to the mother of Jesus tell her story. We will explore the scripture that Mary may have known, verses that probably startled her as she prepared for her son to be born, and we will look at all of the beautiful things that this woman, chosen by God, “pondered in her heart.”
Below you’ll find a monologue written from the view of the Mother of Jesus for each of the Sundays of Advent as well as one reading from each week contemplating what Mary may have felt, seen, known, dreamt and believed. Readings for everyday are available on Amazon or in my personal store.
Whether you light a candle on wreath every day or each evening is entirely up to you. What is vital is that we use these four weeks to prepare, much like Mary would have prepared, to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World.
Mary's First Monologue
The day the doctor came to visit me, I was so surprised. Old widows in Nazareth don’t get many out of town guests. Peter and Andrew used to come by often, and John . . . John Bar Zebedee had promised my boy that he would take care of me, and until the day they took him away (pausing a second for composure or to wipe away a tear). I’m so sorry . . . but when they took him to prison it was almost as if I’d lost a second son. But you didn’t come today to hear me talk about John, you are wondering about Luke.
Yes, Luke and I had a wonderful visit. He asked so many questions. He told me he was writing down everything he could find out about Jesus’ life, and said “what better place to start than at the beginning.” Well, of course, I’d talked to my own children and the twelve, but no one had ever asked as many questions as Luke.
I don’t know if Luke realized Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins before he came. After all, Luke never got to meet John. Herod had taken John’s life before they killed my son. So Luke had only heard the stories about cousin John, and to tell the truth, no one had ever asked me about him before. Zechariah and Elizabeth had been gone for so long by the time Luke came by. I may have been the only one left to tell the story.
It was so funny that day when I first found out I was carrying my Baby. Just after the angel’s visit, I left to spend time with Elizabeth for a few months. When I arrived, I greeted Zechariah outside the house, but he just waved. He was usually such a talkative fellow; I thought it was a bit strange. But even more strange was what I found inside!
Elizabeth was six months pregnant! She hadn’t said a word to anyone. I knew she was going to have a baby, but only because the angel had told me. And I’d believed him! But she was so old! It was still a bit amusing to see her so far along. It wasn’t until after John was born that we heard the whole story.
Zechariah had been in the temple. Even at his age, he still served every time it was his turn. While he was all alone lighting the incense in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared. I knew just how Zechariah must have felt! I remember the day Gabriel came to see me. That’s a sight you don’t soon forget. And just like me, Gabriel told him not to be afraid.
Now, let me tell you, that’s not an easy thing to do. An angel of the Lord stands right in front of you, coming from out of nowhere, and you’re supposed to stay calm and not be afraid. At any rate, I’ll guarantee you my talkative cousin was quiet for at least a few minutes.
That’s when Gabriel told him he and Elizabeth would have a Son. He said that John would be great, that he should never touch wine or beer. Gabriel said he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, that might not be a big deal to you all in the 21st Century, but back before my Son was killed, Yahweh didn’t pass out the Holy Spirit as generously as He does now. John was one of the few who had the Spirit of the Lord upon him from the moment he was conceived. Gabriel told Zechariah that John would have the Spirit and power of Elijah.
Did you hear that!? Elijah. We’d been waiting for the return of Elijah for centuries. Everyone knew that Elijah was coming before the Messiah to prepare the way for Him. That’s all the elders of the community ever talked about, and Gabriel said John was going to fulfil that prophecy. I don’t think any of us really believed it until the boy was older. In fact his parents were long gone by the time we saw him as Elijah.
I told all of this to Luke, but he was still curious as to why Zechariah couldn’t talk. Well, you see, Zechariah had a hard time believing Gabriel. After all, he and Elizabeth were old. No one Elizabeth’s age had given birth since Sarah as far as we knew. So Zechariah was a little skeptical. But if there’s one thing we learned from Zechariah, it’s “don’t ever ask an angel, ‘How do I know for sure you’re telling the truth?’”
Zechariah asked that angel for a sign, he wanted to be sure the angel knew what he was talking about. So God gave him a sign. For nearly ten months the man couldn’t talk. (laughing) That was a family joke for years!
Oh my, did we see God move in those days! All those verses from the prophets were beginning to be fulfilled. And to think God was using our little family. I am still amazed at that. But John was just the beginning of the prophecies fulfillment. My Baby boy was, of course, the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy.
John was sent to prepare the way, to get everything ready for the day my Son would leave my home and reveal to the world who His real Father was. And prepare the way, John did. That’s how he made Herod so angry! He was telling the world that the Messiah was finally coming. You’d have thought they’d have rejoiced when John started sharing his message, but I guess those priests and teachers just weren’t ready to prepare for the Messiah just yet.
My trip to Elizabeth was just the beginning of my preparations. I still remember how exciting and terrifying it was to know that I was the Mother of the Son of God. But I think I’ll save that story for another day. Like I told Luke, I’m getting a bit older now. But if you’ll come back, I promise to tell you all about it
These Devotions on Your Kindle
Luke tells us he wrote his gospel after many interviews and much research. If that's true, then it stands to reason he must have gotten most of his information about the birth of Christ from Mary. These 28 readings look at Luke's telling of the birth of Christ from Mary's perspective. They help us focus on Christmas in a whole new light so we can celebrate the real reason for the season.
The First Week of Advent
The Candle of Preparation
Read Luke 1:5-17
John Came in the Spirit of Elijah
Sometimes we forget that Mary knew John the Baptist. In fact, it’s not mentioned in any other gospel, or anyplace else in Luke. So for the sake of our readings, we’ll assume it was Mary that told Luke she was related to John’s mother, Elizabeth. We can also speculate that since Elizabeth had chosen to be in seclusion for the first five months of her pregnancy, and since e-mail and cell phones weren’t available yet, there was a good chance Mary was one of the first to know that John was coming.
By the time John was an adult, his parents were gone. They had been aged when he was born. By the time Luke began “carefully investigating” the story of Jesus Christ, there may have been no one but Mary who remembered the promises that Gabriel had spoken to Zechariah about his son, John.
Picture, for a moment, Mary telling Luke about the angel visiting Zechariah. I can’t help but wonder if the memory of the angel’s words, “He will go before the Lord in the Spirit and Power of Elijah…” also reminded Mary of John in his camel hair and leather standing in the Jordan River. I wonder if that picture brought to mind the king’s conversation in 2 Kings 1:8 when Elijah was identified simply by his clothing choices.
As we light the first candle of Advent today, picture yourself in Mary’s seat hearing Zechariah tell the story. Imagine the wonder of Mary as she watched her cousin, John, go out in the Spirit and Power of Elijah. And just as John was sent to prepare the way, let’s begin our preparation for the Messiah.
Mary's Second Monologue
Good morning! It’s so good that you’d come back to listen to my story. There’s so much to tell! Let’s see, I promised to tell you about the excitement and the fright of becoming the mother of the Son of God. I was so excited to have a baby and so honored that God had chosen me, but raising the Son of God was a huge responsibility, and the more I remembered all that I learned from the prophets, the more my heart was filled with fear.
You see, all of my life we studied the Torah. Of course, as a girl, I didn’t get as much training as the boys in my town. But I was still taught the basics, and all of those prophecies about the Messiah were woven into our lives like a huge tapestry. My parents and the people in the synagogue talked about the words from the prophets all the time. Although, by the time my Son was born I’m not sure that anyone believed them anymore.
The prophets had been silent for nearly four hundred years. The Roman government had overtaken our country, and most had lost hope that the promised Messiah would ever come. But from the day that angel visited, those old prophecies began to come to mind.
You might guess that Isaiah’s words, “the virgin will be with child” (laughing) was the first prophecy that I remembered, but during the nine months following Gabriel’s visit, I’d recall bits of those old prophecies more often than you might imagine. All those words the prophets spoke about my cousin, John the Baptist, kept playing over and over again.
And as I remembered the words of the angel, I kept thinking about my ancestry. Luke asked a lot about my parents and grandparents. Even though we were a family of very humble means, like all good Jews, we kept track of our family tree. And I’ll be honest, during my confinement I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s the reason why.
A descendant of David. . . After this many years, it didn’t impress anyone that our family was from the line of David. We never even gave it a second thought. There hadn’t been a King in my family tree since Solomon. Being from David’s line certainly didn’t give us any privileges or make us wealthy. And no one expected the Messiah to be from our family. Even my parents couldn’t accept my out of wedlock pregnancy for a time.
But with nine months to search out the words of the prophets, and then that surprise trip to Bethlehem when the governor called for the census, I knew my Son would fit the description. All I could do is pray as I read about the pain my Baby would one day have to endure. I tried to put it out of my mind, but I believed Gabriel. And if my Son was who the angel said He would be, then . . . (dramatic pause) I just couldn’t think about those prophecies in those first months and years. It was hard enough when I saw them begin to truly unfold. Being the mother of the Messiah isn’t as easy as you might think …
More Advent Devotions
- Advent Devotions from John's Christmas Story
Most read the Christmas story from the book of Luke with details added from Matthew's gospel, but what does John have to say about Jesus' birth?
- Advent Readings in your Inbox
I use Mailchimp to help me deliver spam free daily devotions to your inbox every day during Advent.
The Second Week of Advent
The Candle of Prophecy
The Baby Will Be the Prince of Peace
Today’s scripture is known throughout the world. Even those who don’t know Christ have probably heard these words. Frederick Handel wrote one of the most famous pieces, “Hallelujah Chorus” around these two short verses. And in Mary’s time, these words from Isaiah were considered to be a description of the coming Messiah.
“Unto us a Child is born . . .” Did Mary change that “us” to “me” during those forty weeks between when Gabriel came and Jesus was born? Did the rest of those verses frighten her as much as it excited her? I wonder how it felt to think that the government would be upon the shoulders of her tiny Baby. How did it feel to read the prophets words and know that you would raise the One who would be called the Prince of Peace?
Now, 2000 years later, calling Jesus “Wonderful Counselor” is almost taken for granted. But what if we read these verses like Mary? How might it change the way we look at our Savior if we read these words as if it was the first time, truly appreciating Him as a “Wonderful Counselor,” really believing that the Son of Mary is also the “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” And as you look at the light flicker atop those candles, as you feel the peace of the beautiful light, praise God that you know the One Isaiah called the “Prince of Peace.”
Mary's Third Monologue
I have to admit, the idea of raising the Son of God was a bit overwhelming. I was so young when that angel came. To tell the truth, I wasn’t sure I could raise any child, and I knew this child wouldn’t be just “any child.”
If I wasn’t sure He was going to be something special before He was born, the things that happened just after His birth more than confirmed it. When it all happened, I didn’t even have words to describe it. But by the time Luke came by to visit, more than 33 years after His birth, I had played those scenes over and over again in my mind and saved them deep in my heart.
When I explained it all to Luke and told him how grateful I was to finally be able to share all those stories with someone who believed they were true, he said it sounded like I had done a lot of pondering through the years. Pondering. . . what a fancy word! Luke was a doctor after all! He told me it meant that I’d considered all those things carefully and deeply, reflected on them and relived them in my mind again and again.
Yes, if that is pondering, I’d done a lot of pondering over the last 40 years. Every time Jesus proved to be different than all of the other children, I thought about the shepherds and the Magi. When the dedication of my other children was quiet and uneventful, I remembered Simeon and Anna at the temple when we went for my purification. Those beautiful but frightening words Simeon spoke … I couldn’t bear to repeat them to anyone, but I couldn’t forget them either. Much of what I told Luke I hadn’t really told very many before. (laughing) Who would have believed me? All I could do was treasure up all of those memories and hold them tight.
Luke was right. I’d spent years pondering those events, wondering exactly what each detail meant. But now we know. After his horrible death we began to understand, and (a little more excitedly) people finally began to believe my stories. I finally could share all of those things I’d treasured and pondered about my oldest Son, and it was a relief to be able to share my story and know that Luke wouldn’t think I was crazy.
But I think you believe me too! I hope you’ll listen closely to my Son’s story and do some pondering for yourself. And if you’d like to hear a bit more, come on back next week. I’ll try to share a bit more. I do love telling His story!
What is Advent?
Why Should We Celebrate?
What is an Advent Wreath?
If these are the questions you are asking about this season, I invite you to visit my main Advent page. There you'll find answers to all of your questions about Advent (and if you don't, please ask your question in the comments and I'll add that information to the page) as well as links to more advent readings and a place to sign up to get readings in your inbox every day during advent. Just click that link below to visit.
What is Advent?
- A Page to Help You Understand Advent a Bit Better
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. For Christians, the season is a great time to prepare hearts to celebrate the holiday.
The Third Week of Advent
The Candle of Pondering
Pondering the Perfect Son
Because these few verses happened twelve years after the birth of Christ, they are usually missing from the Christmas story. And unfortunately, because they happened eighteen years before His earthly ministry started, this story of Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem is often left to the children in Sunday School. But it’s one of those stories that had to come from Mary or someone in Jesus’ family, so we can assume this event was important in her pondering over the years.
As I read this story, I wonder how it must have been for Mary to enter the temple and find her Son causing amazement by His understanding and His answers. Joseph and Mary were poor people. They weren’t in the line of the priests, so Jesus would have had a bare bones education. Because they were obviously a Godly couple, they would have made sure their Son knew the Torah and the prophets, but I get the feeling that the young Jesus’ answers were more astounding than a normal boy from Nazareth.
Mary must have had some mixed feelings as she walked into the temple that day. I believe that the words of verse 49, “we’ve been searching for you,” were brought on by worry and the relief of finding Him. On the other hand, it sounds like she might have spent a few minutes listening to her Son converse with the teachers before she spoke. So coupled with the worry and the relief, there was probably some amazement in her voice. And some place in the midst of all of this, all that she had pondered twelve years before at His birth had to be rushing back to her, reminding her that her beautiful, bright, amazing and perfect Son had a hard life ahead of Him, one that she couldn’t even imagine.
Today as you light a candle, ponder for a moment what it must have been like to raise a Son like Jesus. Consider how it must have felt to watch Him grow. Imagine the confusion of not always understanding the depth of His knowledge and the impact of the realization your oldest Son is always obedient. And just as Mary treasured all these things in her heart, ponder the fact that Mary’s beautiful Baby is your gateway to the Father, her perfect Son is your perfect Sacrifice.
Mary's Fourth Monologue
Luke had so many questions, and there was so much on my heart that day He came to visit. I think that the memory of all of the days of my oldest Son’s life rushed back all at once. I was exhausted by the time we finished our visit. I remembered all the pride of having such a beautiful baby as well as the humbling feeling of carrying the Son of God. The confusion and the joy I felt as I awaited His arrival all those years ago overwhelmed me. And all those stories forced me to remember that awful day, the worst day of my entire life. The day the world has come to call Good Friday was anything but “good” for me.
Fortunately, most of my conversation with Luke was of all the promise that my baby’s birth held, the promise made by Gabriel and the promise given to Elizabeth. We talked about the promise I saw in Him as He grew and the promise I knew He would be to the people of Israel. I don’t think I really understood just how much promise He held until after His resurrection.
What a bundle of emotions that final Passover week was. With the preparations for the annual celebration and then His trial and beating and crucifixion, I was emotionally spent. I don’t know what I’d have done without John and the other followers those few days. But unfortunately, during those dark days, for just a moment, I forgot the promise. I’m sure you know how easy that is.
No matter how much we’ve seen God work, it’s easy to forget the promise during the darkest of days. None of us understood what he’d meant about being raised up in three days. Death always meant death. Even Lazarus died a final death after my Son brought him back to Mary and Martha. That Friday and Saturday were the longest days of my life.
But after my Son rose from the dead, I never forgot the promise again! Between the joy of seeing Him alive and the gift of the Holy Spirit my Son poured out on everyone who believed, it was impossible to ever let go of those promises again.
(stands – ready to leave) I appreciate you allowing me to come and tell my story these past few weeks, but it’s time for me to go now. You’ve been as good and as gracious a listener as Luke was so many years ago. I hope my visit has helped you know my Son. (begins walking away, then stops) And I pray that you will hold on to the promises given to us by our Holy Father. I guarantee you, from experience, every promise is true.
The Final Week of Advent
The Candle of Promise
The Promise of “One Who is to Come”
Advent is not complete without sharing some of the promises of a Savior who will return. As we mentioned in the beginning, the word Advent means to come. So part of the season is reminding ourselves that we serve a Savior who is to come, One who will return for us and One who loves us more than we can imagine.
During these last few days before Christmas, we will look at a few verses from Revelation, verses that Mary may have never read. However, we know that John took care of Mary until she died, so perhaps this apostle “who Jesus loved” began to share some of His insight with the mother of our Savior before her passing.
These first few verses are just John’s greeting, but they hold a lot of wisdom. They remind us of the opening of his gospel written many years before, “The Word . . . was with God from the beginning . . . became flesh and dwelt among us”. It’s this same “Word” that John promises will one day come again.
You see, we celebrate Christmas, not because Jesus came, but because He “was pierced” and died for our sin. We enjoy this holiday because He rose from the dead, and He promises to come again. If our hope in Jesus is only the baby in the manger, we’ve missed the whole point of the celebration. We light these candles and enjoy the beauty of Christmas because He is the One who was and is and is coming again.
The Candle of Christ
Prepared by Prophecy for Pondering the Promise
Every year on Christmas Eve I enjoy rereading Luke’s rendition of the Christmas story. Even though the story is found in Matthew as well, it’s these verses from Luke, Mary’s story, that even Linus Van Pelt, Charlie Brown’s friend, read on Christmas Eve.
Perhaps it’s because it does sound like Mary’s story that these words have become the favorite scripture to read on Christmas Eve around the world. But it doesn’t matter the reason we love these verses, what’s important is that every year we read them with the new eyes and ears. It’s vital that they become more than just a story, but instead a retelling of a precious event, a life-changing experience.
Let the words of this beloved scripture Prepare you to become all that Christ has created you to be. Allow them remind you of the Prophecy you were created to fulfill. Ponder this beautiful story to help you consider the impact this Baby has made on your life, and hold on to the Promise that was born in Bethlehem on that quiet, ordinary, yet not so ordinary night.
Do You Celebrate Advent?
and How Big Do You Celebrate?
© 2014 Lynne Modranski