She was very surprised to learn she was having a baby. This pregnancy was unplanned. To say the least. She was engaged to be married. She was a virgin. So, technically, there was no way she could become pregnant. Except for one thing. An angel of God visited her. He said she would have a child. This child would be the Son of God. She was to carry and birth the Savior of the world.
Then during the final days of Mary’s pregnancy, she and Joseph left town. They traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. It was roughly a seventy mile trip. Mary on the donkey. Joseph on foot. The terrain was hilly and uneven. It was rough country. The trip either went straight through Samaritan country, or down an out of the way path around the city to reach Bethlehem. The first option was dangerous and uncertain. The second route added more time to an already long trip.
On top of the uncertainties of the trip, Mary was heavily pregnant. Her time was coming due. Oh. She had no birth plan, as is the norm these days. She had never given birth. Perhaps she had been involved in midwifery for other women. Yet she was young. Perhaps she had witnessed her mother birthing younger siblings. Had her mother instructed her on what to expect in birthing a baby? Was she prepared to be completely alone with her husband who was not the father of her child? Did Joseph know what to expect when his wife was expecting?
When the couple arrived in Bethlehem, there were crowds of people. Hotel rooms were full. No vacancy anywhere. They found space in a stable where they spent time awaiting the impending birth. And her time came as they were in the distant city. She was not surrounded by women who knew her. She was not in the company of friends. She was alone with the man who was her husband but not the father of her child. She had yet to know this man intimately, yet he was to help her birth the baby.
Was it an awkward experience for both of them? Joseph was not experienced at delivering babies. Oh. He worked with his hands, but as a carpenter. His hands were rough and strong. But perhaps he was gentle as he soothed her sweaty brow. Was she in labor for hours? Was it an easy birth? Or, was this the perfect labor and delivery, because the Deliverer was being delivered? There were no robes of royalty for this newborn. Mary wrapped this infant King in strips of cloth.
Oh. There was no birthing room. No blood tests. No IV. No heartbeat monitors. No epidural. No apgar test. There were no newborn photos to share with the family. There were no footprints inked on a birth certificate. No steak dinners to celebrate the happy occasion. They were in a stable where animals were kept. Nothing was sterile about the place, yet this perfect child came to save an unsterile world.
The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:23
But the birth announcement was out of this world. Literally. As shepherds were in the fields that night, an angel burst onto the scene. He announced the birth of this baby. And then a choir of angels appeared and sang to the shepherds. They sang of his birth. Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth. Goodwill to all men. The shepherds immediately left the fields and found the stable in Bethlehem. There they worshipped the infant King of kings and Lord of lords.
On the eighth day after his birth, Mary and Joseph took the baby to the temple where he was circumcised. He was given the name Jesus. An offering of two doves was presented that day. It was a typical day in the life of a couple christening their child.
But there were those in the temple. Two who had been waiting for this moment. They had been waiting for years. Their hearts had been stirred as he was brought in for this ceremony. They knew what only his parents knew. They confirmed that he was the Son of God. The Incarnate God in flesh. And only eight days old.
I’m sure Mary pondered this unusual announcement in her heart. She and Joseph had not shared the details of this immaculate conception with strangers. There was no need. Yet here they came. An elderly man named Simon and an elderly widowed woman named Anna. They each shared the prophecies of the birth of this One born in the royal line of David.
Everything we need to know about Mary’s birth story has been written. The information is shared throughout the Bible. The more personal and private details have been left out. Because they aren’t the focus of the story. The baby’s weight is inconsequential. The hours of labor aren’t counted. It doesn’t matter when her water broke. Or when she was fully dilated. The birth of this baby was ordained by God the Father. His birth was part of a beautiful, sacrificial plan for mankind’s salvation. No other birth story compares. The breath of eternal life is given to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.