The other day I drove past a man who was dragging a large cross. The cross was on wheels, but I drive up some big hills almost every day. This man was dragging his cross up and down these hills. My first thought was that this man must be crazy. What sort of God tells people to do such a crazy thing?
Lately I’ve been thinking a bit about Mary. It seems like many Protestants are reluctant to talk or think too much about Mary. Perhaps it is a fear of somehow being caught up in some Catholic heresy and inadvertently committing idolatry. Her response to the angel Gabriel is quite something.
Let’s consider her political and social situation. She is a young engaged woman (teenager?) in a society which is very religious. They are a conquered people, being ruled by the Romans. There is no government support for children. In fact unwanted babies are thrown away.
An angel comes to her and tells her God is going to get her pregnant. How does she explain that to her family? Or to her fiancé? You can imagine what others are going to say about her. If her fiancé divorces her, the thing Joseph thought was the right thing to do (Mat 1:19), who will look after her?
In fact this slur on her character follows her for the rest of her life. We see this in Jesus’ theological discussions with the Pharisees it comes up. In John 8:41 the Pharisees claim to be better than Jesus because they weren’t born from sexual immorality.
And yet, despite the shame and difficulties being pregnant with the son of God will cause her, Mary’s response is, let it be to me according to your word. There is nothing about making sure others will understand her, or making sure her rights as a good Jewish girl are respected!
It makes me wonder about those who claim to follow Jesus and yet are more interested in their rights! I have a right to be understood as a Christian! I expect my rights as a good Christian!
It also makes me wonder about my reaction to the man dragging his cross. It certainly isn’t the way I would go about trying to get across the message of Jesus. Maybe he is crazy. But maybe God really told him to do that. It is no crazier than God getting a young Jewish girl pregnant. It is too easy to metaphorically find myself, joining those who condemned Mary saying, ‘Why is she pregnant? God doesn’t have sex with girls – you can’t be pregnant by God!’