Tell us Mary, Exactly What Did You Know? (Cassandra Millis)

While we celebrate the third week of Advent, many of the students among us are in a far less joyous state: finals week. While we deck the halls with boughs of holly, they race the halls backs bowed, Heads in a book from one test to another. Tis the season to be stressed out. They have holly, jolly, crippling anxiety. Too many Christmas puns?

While they face questions about molecular biology, differential equations, and British Lit, there are a couple Christmas-y questions we get to sing along to. In fact, you will find that Christmas songs involving rhetorical questions are the absolute most popular songs if you poll EVERY SINGLE WOMAN… in my immediate family… (Man, it’s hard to say things under your breath when you’re typing them to be read.)

My mother’s favorite Christmas tune is “Mary, did you Know?” which is full to the brim of question after question, almost an interrogation of how aware the mother of God was in this whole ordeal. My favorite Christmas song is from Reliant K, called “I Celebrate the Day”, the chorus of which is as follows, “And the first time, that you opened your eyes, did you realize that you be my Savior? And the first breath, that left your lips, did you know that it would change this world forever?”

What Mary knew is pretty easy to figure out if you read the birth narratives in Scripture. Did she know the child she delivered would soon deliver Her? Well- the angel told Joseph to name the child Joseph because He would “save His people from their sins” (Mathew 1:21) and she is part of “His people”. Did she know when she kissed Her little baby, she kissed the face of God? Gabriel certainly told Her He was the Son of God. The walking on water and Healing a blind man? No one seemed to have given Her a Heads up on those types of things. As far as what Jesus knew when He was first born, that’s a little less clear. Full humans, like He was, don’t seem to know much of anything when they are first born. Full gods, however, which He also was… we have less data on that.

One of the reasons I think Christmas is so important, is that it does humanize Jesus. He was born just like the rest of us, and despite being a king, was born in a lowly manger next to livestock. Despite all the grandeur of who He was, in this state, He wasn’t so far away from any of the rest of us.
In Luke 22:39-46, He seems quite human again. Far from a “silent night”, instead of “sleeping in Heavenly peace”, we find Jesus on the Mount of Olives, praying before His crucifixion. He was struggling with what He knew He needed to do. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” He prays. (Luke 22:42) Our Savior was born as a human so that He could experience the lives of His creation, to understand His people and to be able to die and thereby save them from death. He experienced temptation, pain, and fear. Its perhaps never easier to resonate with Jesus than during this scene. Even though He knows death is not permanent, even though He knows paradise is waiting on the other side: He doesn’t want to die.

Still, He prays “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

So in the midst of all the questions you may face this Christmas season, I hope you will also ask yourself, “What is God’s will?” That isn’t always easy to figure out, but we can look to the faith of people like Mary, who trusted God despite His desire to turn her life entirely upside down. We can look to Joseph, who was humbled in his desire to divorce his wife, and instead valued and cherished her, doing his best to provide in the challenging situations of Christ’s birth. And we can look to Jesus. If we can be like Him in fear, I pray we can also be like Him in faith. Let God’s will be done.

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