Mary of Nazareth, waiting to give birth

There is no doubt that Mary was waiting for the birth of her son. Every expecting mother has special feelings during pregnancy. And the closer the due date is, the stronger the bond between mother and child becomes.

She was the first one to know. For many centuries, the devout Jews had waited for the Messiah—sometimes more, sometimes less intensively. Their hope was to be delivered from the evils of the respective period, to have autonomy as the people of God, and to possess the temple in Jerusalem. For them, the Messiah was above all the king of Israel. And when it was finally time for an ancient promise to be fulfilled, the angel of the Lord did not come to the prophets, kings, or priests—he came to Mary. And she was not living in a palace at the court of the king. The name of the village in which she lived was Nazareth; in the northern part of the kingdom, in Galilee, far away from Jerusalem.

Unexpected, special, and unique things always happen suddenly. Mary learns of her pregnancy from an angel, a pregnancy which was really not possible. But the fact that an angel of the Lord came to tell her, must have removed any doubts. Interesting details:

  • Mary lived in Nazareth, a remote village far away from the centre of Israel.
  • An angel came to Mary.
  • She was young.
  • She was a virgin.

This mix of select ingredients wafted over the announcement of the Lord. Even before His birth, which was also accompanied by miracles, something very significant and new happened: God Himself intervened in the course of history. God changed the world.

Waiting means leaving God to it

In the first chapter of Luke we can read: “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”

Waiting means to be prepared for a surprise

That is a bit much for many people—then as now. At the time, people suspected adultery. Today, given such a narrative, people’s intellect gets in the way of things. Most reject the virgin birth. And yet, waiting also means: being prepared for the unexpected, hoping for a miracle, being able to handle surprises. Mary was able to do all of this. She remained calm, she trusted, and accepted her fate. Later, at the wedding in Cana, she said to the people around her, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” She could only say this and come across as being credible because she herself had been prepared to do what God had charged her with.

Waiting means being a tool in God’s hand

When God chooses people as instruments, He equips with power. And He sees them through their tasks. Christians are to be tools of their Sender Jesus Christ and proclaim the glad tidings of His return in an undaunted and believing manner. They are waiting for something new, for something important—for the miracle.

Photo: cristina_conti -

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Peter Johanning
Advent, Christmas