“Unless you have heard the Christmas message and at some point found it incredible, too, I’m not sure you have ever really grasped it. . . . If you have never stood and looked at the Gospel and found it ridiculous, impossible, inconceivable, I don’t know that you’ve really understood it.”- Timothy Keller (emphasis author’s)
As Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 5 of Hidden Christmas, he observes that Mary’s faith happened in stages. Hence, Mary shows us that conversion and acceptance come at different speeds to different people. And as we look at Mary’s process, we learn much about our own journeys.
1. Mary’s first reaction – measured incredulity. Luke 1:34 records Mary’s first reaction to the Gospel message. As Pastor Keller phrases it, Mary found the angel’s message crazy, impossible. So, even though Mary finds the message hard to believe, she measures her reaction. Instead of stopping the conversation, she asks for more information.
2. Her second stage consists of simple acceptance. Next, Mary declares herself God’s servant. As a result, even though the angel’s statement makes no sense, Mary chooses to pursue, to follow.
Sometimes, Pastor Keller counsels, this can be a very important space to occupy – at least for a while. When you submit and trust despite your fears and reservations, you gain a foothold for moving forward.
3. Mary eventually exercises faith from the heart. It all comes together for Mary when she visits her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. Most significantly, Elizabeth’s knowledge and insight confirmed the angel’s message.
This, in turn, gave Mary deeper assurance of faith. Now she gives her heart joyfully, rather than merely submitting her will. Pastor Keller concludes:
“Why does faith take this kind of time and follow so many different paths? It is because true faith is not something that you simply decide in yourself to exercise. . . . Unless he comes and reveals himself to us, as he did to Mary, we would never be able to find him.”
Today’s question: What do you find incredible about the Christmas message? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “No note of wonder and surprise?”