He was Mary’s son
Guest Column Peter Milsom
Christmas can be a strange time. It comes in the dark days of winter and, no matter how carefully we plan, always seems to be a busy time with too much to do and too little time to do it.
It’s really good to see the family and spend time with them. It’s good to give and receive presents. Yet often our hopes are not fulfilled and, after it is all over, there can be an emptiness and, for many, the pressure of paying the bills.
Born in a stable
The first Christmas was a bit like that for Mary and Joseph. Mary was so young and the time for her first baby to be born was very near.
It was winter and it was no time really to be travelling. But the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, had decreed that all the people of his empire should enrol in a census. So Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because Joseph was descended from King David and Bethlehem was David’s ancient home.
When they arrived, Bethlehem was full of people, because King David had many descendants. Most of the people had arrived before Mary and Joseph, and all the rooms in the inns had been taken.
Joseph was desperate to find a place for Mary to rest. The only place he could find was a stable. So it was there that Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and they gave him the name Jesus — ‘for he will save his people from their sins’. Jesus was the Son of God, but he was also Mary’s son.
Born a king
Jesus’ birth had been foretold in detail centuries before. More than 600 years before Jesus was born, prophets had spoken about a very special birth.
Isaiah said the child would be a great king, who would establish a great kingdom: ‘For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
‘His ever expanding peaceful government will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!’
Micah said this king would be born in Bethlehem: ‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past’.
Isaiah also said that the child who would be born would be born to a virgin: ‘The Lord himself will choose a sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel — God with us’.
In a stable in Bethlehem, all those prophecies were fulfilled when Mary’s son was born. In the birth of Jesus God broke into history. In Jesus, God drew near to us all. He is Immanuel, ‘God with us’.
Then as now, many people wanted to keep God out of their lives. They didn’t want their lives to change and to submit to his authority and rule. But Jesus came from heaven to earth. As one Christmas carol puts it: ‘He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all’.
Born a Saviour
He came into this world in an amazing way when he was supernaturally conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. He was Mary’s son. Mary humbly accepted the amazing privilege which God gave her.
She responded to the angel, who came to tell her the news of what was going to happen to her, by saying, ‘I am the Lord’s servant, and am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true’.
She was willing to accept the stigma of being thought immoral, and even of Joseph thinking that she had been unfaithful to him. She accepted having to flee into exile in Egypt when King Herod tried to kill her son.
The family became asylum seekers in a foreign country. She stood at the foot of the cross as her son died and experienced the piercing grief of bereavement. He was indeed Mary’s son.
Mary’s son was also her Saviour. Mary was not a sinless person; she was like us all. She was, however, someone who wanted to really know God in a deep way. She responded to the angel Gabriel by saying, ‘Oh, how I praise the Lord! How I rejoice in God, my Saviour!’
She was a thoughtful person who reflected on everything that happened to her son. After the shepherds came to visit the baby Jesus, ‘Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often’.
Born to be with us
After the cross and Jesus’ resurrection, like the disciples, Mary fully realised why they had been told to call him Jesus. He was indeed her Saviour as well as her son. She had carried him in her womb and cared for him through his life. Now by his death and resurrection he had saved his people, including his mother, from their sins.
What will this Christmas be like for you? What do you want most for Christmas? We all need to find what Mary found. Mary’s son came to save us from our sins. He came to be ‘God with us’, not only at Christmas but always, in this life and for ever.