What the Expecting Mary did not Expect.
a. She wasn't expecting the angel to tell her she was pregnant
What was her family going to say? She was engaged to Joseph? Surely, he would be very hurt. How could he possibly believe she was a pregnant virgin? Will Joseph cast her off? Will her family disown her?
No wonder Mary goes off to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, for nine months. Elizabeth will understand because there is a miracle going on in her life also. Mary pondered these things in her heart for nine months. She felt the baby growing in her womb. She felt the first movements. She wondered what he would look like. She wondered what his personality would be like. She wondered what sort of a handsome king he would be for all of Israel. She made clothes for him. She planned how she would decorate his nursery. She pondered the message of the angel.
b. She wasn't expecting to give birth in a barn.
I love Christmas cards with manger scenes. Have you ever noticed how everyone in the card is clean? The stable seems to glow. The animals are all standing there in perfect stillness as they contemplate the humans who have invaded their space. Baby Jesus is lying perfectly wrapped in spotless, white downy cloths and none of the hay seems to prickle at his perfectly soft skin. Baby Jesus never cries in a Christmas card. Mary is the most beautiful woman in the world and Joseph is tall, dark and handsome. The goats are not trying to eat hay from the stable, there are no insects or crawling varmints.
I remember days in my uncle's barn. Rats running about here and there. The milk cows were swatting at flies and leaving deposits that seemed to linger in your nostrils long afterward. Mary must have known while riding that donkey all the way to Bethlehem that her time for delivery was near. She expected a warm, clean room in the Holiday Inn but instead she gave birth in a barn.
She knew she carried the Son of God. Surely, God's plan was not for his son to be born in a stable! He is royalty! He is divine! But he came in great humility. Was Mary familiar with the verse in the Old Testament: Isaiah 55:9 ""As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." God doesn't always do it the way we expect him to. We are thrown off when he does something we don't expect. When things happen, when sorrows come, when we start to think, you know, God's not in this. Where is he? What did I do to deserve this?
How many young couples preparing to marry conjure in their minds a Christmas card image of marriage? "I'm marrying the most wonderful person on earth." But after awhile, the most wonderful person is not so wonderful after all. Faults rise to the surface. We live in a sinful world. Illness comes, debt accrues, conflicts arise. This isn't quite what I expected.
In those times we need to consider how Mary dealt with the unexpected: "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38) A weaker woman might have collapsed in fear, her faith might have crumbled to dust but Mary put her trust in God.
c. She wasn't expecting Jesus' ministry to be so difficult.
She expected Jesus to be well received. Who wouldn't love such a gentle, loving person? She expected him to be respected by all. She must have been hurt by the hatred, anger, jealousy. She never expected him to be persecuted, tortured and finally murdered. He was the Son of God. Why is he hanging on the cross?
Mary teaches us what do you do when unexpected things happen in your life? Keep trusting God. He sees the big picture. We are driving along behind the dashboard and we see no further ahead than the next curve. He has a bird's eye view of the whole landscape. He sees the bigger picture that we can't see. Mary played the angel’s words over and over in her mind: “Be not afraid, Mary.” Are things not quite turning out as you expected, be not afraid, repeat the words of Mary and make them your own, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”