Bewildered Amusement – A Christmas Eve Message

Christmas Eve. I wonder, how was Mary feeling?  She likely had some indication that she would soon be giving birth any time now.  But what had those nine months been like?  How does one prepare to be the mother of the Lord?  Especially one like Mary – so young and yet so attentive and obedient (Luke 1:38-39).  Did she ever feel inadequate?  Did she doubt God’s plan, growing in her belly?  Or did that Child keep her ever-filled with His Holy Spirit just as His presence had filled Elizabeth when John leapt in her womb (Luke 1:41))?  I wonder what other songs and poems (Luke 1:46-55) Mary wrote as she watched her belly grow and felt the Baby kick inside her.  I wonder how she prayed for her parenting abilities; for the wisdom to raise the Christ from a Baby to a Man.  I’m pretty sure she cast aside egotistical notions that she had somehow earned this great privilege or that her shortcomings as a mother could hinder Jesus from becoming all He was destined to be.

When she felt herself ready to give birth, what excitement must she heave felt?  She was about to birth Jesus, Israel’s long awaited Messiah!  Had she spent the months thinking carefully about the prophecies about Him, wondering how this tiny Baby would fulfill such grand prophetic visions?  After all, weren’t they expecting a mighty king or warrior at the least?  Did she pause when she read the part about the virgin giving birth?  Would any young Jewish girl have ever dared to think they were the virgin in the prophecy?

Nine months is a long time.  Was it hard for Mary to contain herself and not tell people that soon their Messiah would arrive?  Did she even believe or understand what that meant herself?  As she spent those first three months with her strangely pregnant cousin Elizabeth, how she must have giggled with her in disbelief at both of their situations!  What a pair they were!  Gray-haired, worn-bodied, old Elizabeth and young, doe-eyed, virginity-claiming Mary – both of them pregnant!  Zechariah was mute (Luke 1:18-23), but even if he hadn’t been, would he have had any words as he watched his wife brush Mary’s hair and prepare for Shabbat with her young cousin, both of them waddling about with growing bellies?  Or would he have simply stared in wonder at the two women, occasionally turning his eyes heavenward – not in disbelief (Gabriel had corrected that instinct), but in awe and wonder and a little bewildered amusement?

Bewildered amusement.

So many of God’s ways leave us in bewildered amusement.  His ways are most certainly not our ways.  Sometimes we shake our head’s slightly, lips curled up in a half-smile, a small snort puff from our nostrils as we consider the implications of God’s move as we look back with 20/20 hindsight at the puzzle pieces now in place.  Bewildered amusement when He does something so perfectly God-like that we never would have come up with it.

  • When He sends the Savior wrapped in human flesh – actually born of a woman, not appearing suddenly in strong, conquering manliness.
  • When He parts the Red Sea instead of providing boats and paddles (Exodus 14:21-22).
  • When He touches the leper instead of suggesting a medicinal plant salve he can apply himself (Matthew 8:2-3).
  • When He lets the boy’s lunch feed the 5,000 – thereby humbling the crowd by including a mere boy in the manifestation of the miracle – instead of raining manna from heaven… and when He rained manna from heaven instead of teaching His people to hunt and gather – excluding them from the miracle, as to cut back any root of pride (John 6).
  • When He suffered a most shameful and painful death on the cross instead of proving His love the way we do it – with a hug or nice letter.
  • When He endured the pain of the cross, crying out as he bore separation from the Father instead of commanding the entirety of the Heavenly Host to rescue Him  (Mark 15:34).
  • And when He went to Hell to conquer death once for all (Hebrews 9:12) and then rose again to life so we could share in His victory instead of leaving us alone and bewildered.

We see the pieces in place.  We understand.  We shake our head at the way He chooses to do what He says He will do.  And the creativity of God holds us, captivated in bewildered amusement.

As you prepare for a festive time with family and friends over the next few days, will you take a moment to consider our captivating Lord and let yourself soak a little in bewildered amusement of Him?

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