What Did Mary Know? By R. M. Strong

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Well, it’s Advent time again, and that means Christmas music. Our local Christian radio station, The Fish, has transformed to the area’s only place for 24/7 Christmas Music. This year, though, it seems that there are many new and different versions of each song, one in particular. Like a lot of people, the music-choosers at The Fish love the song “Mary Did You Know?” And they found about five or six different versions of the song.

Full disclosure: I don’t necessarily like the song. I don’t really have anything against it, it’s just not my cup of tea (or hot chocolate). No matter what version it is, I just don’t like the song. Of course, the fact that I have to answer the questions each time I hear the song.

My second novel, What Difference Does Seven Days Make?, a historical fiction retelling the stories of the Passion Week, required months of research into the minds, culture, and beliefs of the turn-of-the-era Jews. They had certain expectations of their Messiah that (truth be told) were not fulfilled in the person of Jesus. (Not to say Jesus isn’t the Messiah, but they were looking for something else.)

Now, Mary knew that her newborn baby boy was special—his conception, like his older cousin John’s, was foretold by a messenger of God Himself. She was told He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to 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. (Luke 1:32-33 ESV) She knew her son would be the Messiah, that people would call him the Son of God, but what did that mean? What did Mary truly know about her baby boy?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? No. The Messiah was not said to have any supernatural powers.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? Yes. The Messiah, Mary believed, would be a great military leader the likes of which hadn’t been seen since King David. Her baby boy was, she presumed, going to overthrow all rulers that had conquered the land of Judah and expand the borders to where they were during King David’s time. He would save the sons and daughters of the Nation of Israel from tryanical rule.

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? No. Only God could do that, and only through the sacrifices offered in the Jerusalem temple. (Unless the “you” we’re talking about is the nation of Israel, then Yes.)
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you. Deliver from oppression?  Yes. Deliver from sin? Absolutely not. Only God could do that, and when Jesus did forgive sins, the religious leaders were quick to speak against it. (Luke 5:21 and others)
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Perhaps. The Messiah was supposed to have the same power as the prophets, and many prophets performed miracles. Prophets and the Messiah were given the ability to work miracles only as God ordained.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Perhaps she believed it was a possibility, but not likely, for the reasons stated above.
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? No. The Messiah, according to Jewish tradition then as well as now, is not God Himself.
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God. No. That would be blasphemous and would have gotten her killed. Jesus telling the crowd He was God nearly got Him killed before His time (John 8:58 – 59).
The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.
Perhaps, but not likely, again. These were all mentioned in the passage from Isaiah that Jesus quoted to begin his ministry. Most, though, didn’t believe him. Except for the last one: Everyone, she knew, would praise her son.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? No. It was blasphemous, for reasons stated above.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations? Yes. Of that she was well aware. The Messiah would definitely rule all the nations one day, sitting on the Throne of David.
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? No.The Messiah’s descendants would rule forever. Lambs are slaughtered when they are still young. The Messiah, she believed, would not die before ascending to the throne. No one in the Jewish community—religious or lay—believed the Messiah would be the suffering servant mentioned in the Psalms. They believed that the nation was the servant who was to suffer. The Messiah was going to relieve all of that.

This sleeping child you’re holding is the Great I Am. No. This thought would never have even crossed her mind. She knew that people would call him the Son of God, but Adam was also called the Son of God. (Luke 3:38)

Mary did not have the knowledge we did. Neither did the Twelve, later in Jesus’ life. As we listen to the song for the remaining days before Christmas, in whatever new version people think up, take the time to thank God that we have the faith and confidence to know that we can answer Yes to every question regarding Mary’s newborn babe.

What Difference Does Seven Days Make? is currently available for download for Kindle (and Kindle apps) from Amazon here: http://amzn.to/13LonoR.

The book and its companion Youth Devotional will be available in print beginning February 1, 2014.

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