The couple came from Nazareth, a town with a bad reputation.The mother was not married and was suspected all her life of birthing a child illegitimately. Gabriel had told her she was having a king. It looked nothing like a royal birth: the location, the birthing center, the mother, the guests, the surroundings. The birth of royalty should have been in “the city of the great king,” Jerusalem.

Bethlehem was buzzing with activity, but not for any Jewish royalty. It was compulsory cash for Caesar, who announced a global tax, maybe to help him build more roads to Rome. No one stopped to greet the new parents. They didn’t even know that a birth was taking place, and if they had, they wouldn’t have cared. More important things to do than see an unwed mother deliver a child with her boyfriend the only attendant. Good they didn’t make the birth more public. She could have been stoned.

Joseph most likely had relatives in town. He was from “the house and lineage of David.” That spells “Bethlehem.” I don’t think they believed his story. They did offer him a shack out back. It appears that she gave birth in the presence of animals. The baby was placed in a feeding trough, a poor excuse for a cradle and far less sanitary. An angel choir showed what heaven thought of the event, but they sang to shepherds outside of town, not to important people. The hillside gang came to congratulate the family, the only visitors at the birth. Wise men, most probably servants of a Gentile king, came months later. They were not royalty, nor were they likely wealthy, though their gifts looked like it. They perhaps gave all they had–like another Mary did with her perfume.

No one could have guessed that this child was going to be a king. Births of regal family members are typically anticipated for months, a history-making event. Not this time.  God showed up– incognito, in lowliness. The soon-to-be-mother had received the announcement from an angel, so she knew of the importance, even if the surroundings seemed to tell a different story. She was able to keep “all these things and ponder them in her heart.” 

She knew throughout the life of her boy that he was destined for the throne. Some moments she would have preferred him home rather than traveling as a poor itinerant teacher, supported by some well-to-do women and followed by common workers who had left their jobs. He didn’t know from day to day where he would be sleeping. Often he had no bed. He didn’t have a place to celebrate the Passover, so friends helped him out. He was rejected by the people he came to connect with, and he died the most humiliating and painful public death possible. And while he was dying, the beating and the barking that started the night before, continued through his shockingly shameful death right outside the city gates on a public thoroughfare.  He was too poor to own a tomb for his own burial, so a wealthy new convert stepped in to help. (He only needed it for two nights). From start to finish–abject poverty, humiliation, rejection. He was the stone the builders of the nation rejected. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, a man from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3). How is that for his first time around? (The 2nd coming next. First–a song).

Noisy night, strange birthing site. Nothing calm, none polite.

Labor pains in a small dump out back, even worse than a rickety shack

Sleep in spite of the smell, boy, sleep in spite of the smell

Noisy night, tax season fight, there’s no room, active womb

Baby sleeps where the animals feed, shepherds race to escape the stampede

You’re the only ones here, guys, you’re the only ones here.

Nonetheless, Mary’s impressed, God decreed, she believed

Treasured all within her heart, she had trusted God right from the start

Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace!


The world of sports offers some great finishes. One of the most memorable comebacks in football came in the 2018 Super Bowl 51.The Patriots, down 25 points against the Falcons, won in overtime 31-28. Tom Brady put on a show–went 43/62 for 466 yards and 2 TDs.

Zechariah needed a comeback. We hear each year during Advent how he messed up. He must have rehearsed his less than stellar performance a hundred times over during the silent retreat. One of the worst things about failure is regret, leading to self-condemnation: “How could I be so stupid?”  

Isn’t a nine-month timeout a bit harsh? The divine discipline for unbelief turned out in Zechariah’s favor.  We are urged by Scripture neither to “make light of the Lord’s discipline” nor to “lose heart when he rebukes” us (Hebrews 12:5,6).  Zechariah’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to burn incense in the temple turned out to be a life-transforming occasion. This news would alter his senior citizen days and bring him into the center of God’s prophetic activity. Zechariah couldn’t talk during that experience, but he could listen.  When Mary visited their home in the Judean hills, Elizabeth prophesied “in a loud voice” (Lk.1:42). No doubt Zach heard this holy commotion.  

He recovered—some never do.  Failure gives way to despair. The cross deals with sin, but it doesn’t cover the passive emotion of regret, looking in rather than up, viewing our folly rather than the foolishness of the cross. Repentance works better. Zechariah had time to think through his poor response.  When the day to name his boy came, he wrote “John” on a tablet. Unbelief had closed his mouth—obedience opened it. What was inside came out—praise and prophecy. Zechariah had pondered the possibilities of his son’s activity during his disability leave. He marveled that he and Elizabeth had been chosen to raise this key player in God’s plan. He was so filled with thoughts of God’s moving that he literally burst forth when his moment came. 

It was time for Zechariah to once again speak after most of a year. What will the neighbors hear first:  “Wow! I’m glad that’s over.” Nothing of the kind. “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God” (Lk.1:64).  

The miracle birth turned the tide, which started with an angelic visitation and ended in the priest’s home with the arrival and naming of a son who would eventually be a camel-smelling, locust-eating prophet.  He was destined to be the greatest one, standing at the door and ushering in a new age, pointing people to their salvation, now being carried in the womb of Elizabeth’s young relative. Gabriel had shared with the priest the destiny of his son. How thrilling for Zechariah, who thought perhaps he had been overlooked, to now see that they were right on track with the divine plan and that they would raise Messiah’s forerunner.  

Each Advent we hear more about Zechariah’s crash than his comeback. Let’s be fair to him. From Gabriel’s announcement to eight days after John’s birth, God dealt with him, and he responded well. Let’s remember him through our setbacks, so they become springboards for God’s fresh movement in our lives.


Two visits for Gabriel, the second one to Mary, five months after he had paid a visit to Uncle Zechariah. The archangel left the first visit shaking his head, the second marveling at the wisdom of God’s choice. The first in the hill country of Judea because the old priest needed to live close to Jerusalem; the second up the road eighty miles to a town with a bad reputation. The first is startled by the presence of an angelic being within a few feet of him, the second confused by the greeting as the favored one. 

Humble Mary is about to be exalted beyond any woman—ever. She will have a child, the son of God—without a husband, a miraculous Holy Spirit conception. Why Mary? The Old Testament says it. Jesus said it several times. So did Paul and Peter: “He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Mary, prepare to be exalted. 

But understand that the high favor of heaven often means the disfavor on earth. A sword shall pierce your heart. You will live to see your Son die the worst possible of deaths. But you will also see your other children converted to be followers of their Brother and leaders in the early church. Jesus will have promised the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The family will be present for it, now believing that Brother Jesus is seated at the right hand of the great I AM! His younger brother, a pillar of the New Testament church, will write the letter that bears his name.

Mary’s humility is seen first in being startled that she is recognized in heaven. Samuel told Saul, who wanted honor from the prophet, that God honors those who honor him. It is clear by the way Mary lived and spoke that God was the center of her life, not Mary. It is seen second in her question, “How shall this be, since I am a virgin?” She didn’t assume that because he was engaged to Joseph that it would happen in a natural way. Third, she lived as a virgin. You might think, “They all did in those days.” Then you haven’t read the Old Testament. Fourth, we see her humility in her response: “Behold, I am the servant (literally ‘bondservant’] of the Lord. She could have used the word “diakonos,” “servant, table server,” from which we get the word “deacon” or “deaconess.” The doulas is the lowest of the low. 

Then she finished, “Let it be to me according to your word.” In other words, you can use my body. Another Mary will say thirty-three years later, “You can use my alabaster box of ointment.” A man about the same time said, “You can use my donkey.” One week later a former Sanhedrin leader said, “You can use my grave.”

Do you have anything that Jesus can use, a talent, a will, body? Sixth, she believed the angel, unlike Zac, who needed a sign. As if a visitation from an archangel wasn’t sign enough. Elizabeth said in her loud proclamation, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (1:45). Humble people believe. Proud people doubt.

And finally, we see her humility in the song she sings spontaneously during that holy moment with Aunt Elizabeth. One verse references Mary, saying that “he has looked on the humble estate of his servant (“doulos” again). For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (1:48). Eight verses reference Mary’s God. This young virgin knew Him in a profound way. Read the song that has been sung more than “Silent Night.” Mary knew that this was not about Mary; it was about God!

Mary hotfooted it to Judea, a long trip by foot for a young girl, to her relative. Gabriel told her about another miraculous birth at the opposite end of the spectrum, to someone too old to conceive. Mary probably told Joseph about it and said that she needed to go help her. She most likely didn’t tell Joseph yet about the baby. When she reaches the threshold of her relative’s door,  Elizabeth is moved in the Spirit and makes an extraordinary announcement, that Mary has been singled out for this incredible assignment. How did she know? God revealed it to her. Perhaps because she did not take up bitterness in her barrenness, and during her silent time God did a lot of speaking to her. And now with her young relative present, instead of drawing attention to herself, the object of an impressive miracle, she puts the focus on the mother of her Lord, incredible revelation. She is recognizing supernaturally that her young relative is carrying a child, and that child is even greater than the child she is carrying, indeed her Lord!

The kick of John in the womb was a kick of revelation in the womb of the elderly saint. Instead of saying, “Wonderful, my relative has just shown up to help me,” she marvels at the greatness of God. John, 20 centimeters in the womb of Elizabeth, responds to the presence of Jesus, probably less than two weeks in the womb of Mary. Remember, it was prophesied that John would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Now that child six months along in the womb is responding to the presence of Jesus, a centimeter long in the womb of Mary. What a holy story! What holy people! What a holy God!


1 We hear about wise men in the book of Daniel. He and his friends went to school for three years in Babylon to become “magi.” They were astrologers, not kings, who studied the heavens. Kings surrounded themselves with wise people, a good idea. They advised him by interpreting dreams and unlocking mysteries. Daniel had an advantage, revelation from God, and he rose to the top of the food chain. He interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and even gave him his dream when he forgot it, wisdom of a different sort.

2 The wise men came from east of Israel, maybe Persia (Iran) or Arabia. Since they were  familiar with some of the Hebrew Scriptures that spoke about a star (“we saw his star in the east”), they might have been from Babylon, since 20,000 Jews were exiled there in 586 B.C., and it eventually had a center for Jewish Studies. We don’t know how many came.

3 They told Herod, “We have come to worship him.” To take an 800-mile trip (if from Babylon) required more than curiosity. God was stirring in the hearts of these pre-converts to the Hebrew faith. They came to worship, not do further research. They acted on what they knew, and God gave them more. Same for you.

4 By the time they got to Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were in a house, not a stable, which might have simply been the other end of a cave. It is possible that Joseph, who “was of the house and lineage of David,” had relatives in Bethlehem. They might have received him and given him the best they had at the time. Or they might have rejected him because of a questionable marriage. The wise men possibly arrived months after the birth. The infant (“brephos”) is now called a child (“paidion”). It was by divine activity that the star which moved them to make the trip also lead them to the holy family, a miracle! “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and the heavens gave them the supernatural direction needed to proceed to Bethlehem.

5 Perhaps they knew the writings of Daniel 9:24-27, which give a prophetic timeline regarding the Messiah and might have drawn them to seek truth. God declares, “If with all your hearts you truly seek me, you shall surely find me” (Jeremiah 29:13). The skeptics in Jerusalem were sitters, not seekers. They gave the wise men the guidance they needed, yet without budging. Those who seek find; those who don’t won’t. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Sounds like children discovering truth. Because they followed what they knew, God gave them more. We don’t need the whole truth, just the next step. They asked questions and got answers.

6 Their worship included extravagant gifts. God gave heavenly revelation to poor shepherds, who then spread the word, then to well-off wise men, who likely did the same. God is silently involved in the story from beginning to end–leading, revealing, bringing joy. May He do the same for you in 2019! And let’s spread the word!


God knew everything from the beginning. The sin of Adam that ruined the race did not surprise Him. He didn’t say, as if caught off guard, “Now what should we do?” He already had the plan in mind–from the foundation of the world. He is the Alpha and Omega. He knows the end from the beginning, in fact, before the beginning. Actually, He had no beginning. Wrap your brain around that. He is the architect of history.  What he says becomes reality, even what he thinks.

So when the serpent tampered with Mr. Adam, God knew what would take place thousands of years later to correct the fatal flaw. He said to the serpent, the devil in disguise, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). God wasn’t thrown for a moment. The answer was there before the question.

Three truths arise out of God’s strong words to the serpent::


When it looks like he is winning, and it will near the end, God turns the tables on him. Jesus returns, and the devil is defeated once and for all, cast into the lake of fire, the third to go, after the beast and false prophet (Revelation 20:10). Christians are eternal optimists, because the one who could take us down knows he is already headed for outer darkness, and he operates out of panic, not peace. The clock is ticking, and his time is running out.


He knew from before the beginning that he would be giving up heaven for a season. He accepted the assignment without complaining or wondering. He knew it meant terrible pain and agony, something he had never known. He knew he would be rejected by the world he created and was coming to rescue. He knew that most would embrace the plan of the serpent and refuse his provision. Yet his “yes” was unconditional. Satan would bruise his heel during his life on earth, but he would triumph gloriously and embarrass the adversary publicly on the cross.


God’s answer to the universal epidemic of sin would come through a human birth. The son of God would be born of a woman, the first and last of its kind. We call it the incarnation. It means “in carne” (flesh). In Jesus God put on skin. Chili con carne is chili with meat, with flesh. God became a man. The answer to the world’s problem is a man. Humanity sinned–humanity dies. Jesus didn’t surrender his divinity. He was still God, even inside Mary. But “he emptied himself.” He freely chose to live fully as a man, yet without surrendering to sin. He grew tired and hungry. He could only be at one place at one time, though as God he was omnipresent. “Unto us a child has been born. Unto us a son has been given” (Isaiah 9:6). The mystery of the incarnation in five words: “And the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). The one who lived from eternity with astounding glory was confined to the uterine wall of a virgin woman. Then he was born.  He is our answer! Let us praise him!!


What are my favorite things about Christmas? Gathering together with the extended family, listening to Christmas music, studying again the saints who surround the story, the giving and receiving of gifts, eating special foods (for us, lefse and lamb), sharing moments from past Christmases, and attending rich worship services.

How about Christmas for Joseph and Mary?

First, the hardships:

  1. They were away from family, a good thing ordained by God, since she was carrying the shame of an illegitimate child from the time she was showing. Had she been in Nazareth, people would have been scorning the holy couple rather than celebrating the birth, and perhaps more. Mary would hear about it the rest of her life. Pharisees in Jerusalem said to Jesus thirty years later, “We were not born in fornication.”
  2. The guests who showed up were nearby shepherds, on the low end of the social food chain. A visit from them might not have been seen as a compliment, but it was God’s way of saying what Mary already proclaimed, that “he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:52).
  3. The strung-out celebration came to an abrupt halt when a warning came to Joseph to flee the country because of Herod’s rage. Not exciting escaping to Egypt with a young babe.

And what were their joys?

  1. The first Christmas topped any of ours with special music from a guest choir, a never-to-be repeated performance that was out of this world. If God ever emptied out heaven for a phenomenal event, it would have been at the birth of His Son, prophesied for centuries, now coming in the fullness of time. What a vocal number, unsurpassed! The anthem: “Glory to God in the Highest!”
  2. The second spectacular highlight was the gift-giving, far beyond anything I have ever received–gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Mary and Joseph had some charming visitors from a far-away country. Their timing was off, so they were late for the birth, but their presents more than made up for the delay.
  3. Mary probably did a little celebrating with the shepherds, but she also “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Deep and profound things were going on that she and Joseph certainly discussed together, memories that she would hold within to comfort her in times of great sorrow.
  4. By far, the greatest part of the first Christmas was the arrival of the Son of God, born to reign, but first “to give his life as a ransom for many.” This made the first Christmas an unrepeatable event. The only reason we are celebrating two thousand years later is that it happened once and for all on the first Christmas, making it remarkably special for the mother and father In spite of suffering, opposition, and disappointments, like heavy traffic during tax season and no room for a proper birth. They knew this event was the fulfillment of prophecy and that God was attending the celebration. No way to top that first Christmas. “O come let us adore him–Christ the Lord!”


Evangelicals need not hesitate. We don’t worship Mary, but we call her blessed, as the Bible does. The greatest thing in the world is to find favor with God. Mary did. If earned, it’s not grace.

Yet we do things to invite it. God resists the proud but graces the humble. How did Mary welcome grace?


She chose virginity. You say, “All of them did back there.” Then you have not read the Old Testament lately. Purity is a decision—in any age. And she chose a pure husband. They lived together and travelled to Bethlehem, and she remained a virgin. Call it self-control.

When the angel told her she would bear the Messiah, she did not say, “Well, I had better get married quick.” She said, “I have no husband.” Simple—and holy. When God looks for a vessel through whom to bring His plan, He looks for a pure one. Mary was.


When greeted by the angel, she did not say, “About time someone recognized me.” Some think humility means ranking on yourself: “I can’t do that.” Oh, what a humble, self-effacing person. Wrong. Mary said, “All generations will call me blessed! Isn’t God wonderful?!” Humility puts God at the center, and let’s God be great—even in you.


She said yes—when it would cost. She was pregnant, without a husband. And the one who already proposed almost dropped her. Some would rather compromise than lose a man.

Mary called herself “the Lord’s bondservant.” Here I am, at your service. No footnotes like, “Please share this with my parents, and work it out with Joseph.” Having a baby without a husband is fairly easy in our culture, not in theirs. You will pay, and Mary did–all her life.

Some look for ways to get permission. People like Mary look for ways to please God. Her question was not out of doubt like Zechariah. She just needed clarification—to surrender.


In the most moving meeting of two women ever, when Mary is being commended for believing the extraordinary, that she would have a child without a man, she deflected the applause toward heaven: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”

It is not hard to complain in the face of suffering and disappointment. The first Christmas looked like anything but Christmas—no family, friends, warmth, or even a home. Yet this teenage woman lived full of praise: “He that is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Great people know they aren’t—but God is!  I want to be like Mary. And I want to be like Mary’s Son, Mary’s Lord!


It’s all about who is ruling. I just returned from Africa. The nation of Zimbabwe is in the critical care ward–again. It may not survive. Super-inflation happened overnight. Gas lines have been blocks long for weeks. People pay crazy prices for daily needs. Food is scarce.  Blame it on the president. He doesn’t care as long as he can get richer. The story is repeated a hundred times in developing countries. Elections are often rigged. The person who gets into power often doesn’t budge–even when voted out, if the army is behind him. He uses his power to serve his ends, not those of the country.

“Of the people, by the people, for the people.” Not in many places\]\. It is “for the ruler, by the ruler, of the ruler.” Mr. and Mrs. Citizen don’t matter. Their vote doesn’t count, and their concerns are not heard. Next step: riots. People are so mad because they can’t feed their children that they take it to the streets. Precious lives are lost, but the president still presides most of the time, if the army is behind him. If not, it’s up for grabs. A military coup could put the general into power, but is he any better? Chances are his lust for riches repeats the criminal government and the people suffer.

No wonder the prophecy of Isaiah came as such unbelievably good news. Israel had experienced the same mockery of authority. Hezekiah was a good king. He restored the yearly passover. He cared about bringing prosperity to the people. Peace reigned under his rule. But he was a better president than a parent. He named his oldest child Manasseh, and he is remembered for his godless leadership, even sacrificing his own children to the god Moloch in the fire. People remembered the peaceful and righteous reign of King David and hoped for a descendant who would rule in a godly manner, overthrow corruption, and give rather than take.

So the words of the prophet rang with fresh hope: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

The birth of a special child would signal new hope for the nation of Israel. This child would not be like any other child. He would have the wisdom of a wonderful counselor, unlike foolish kings who only looked after their personal affairs. Peace will reside during his reign. He will be famous for it, in fact, called the Prince of Peace. He will have God backing him to the point that he himself will be called Mighty God. And his power will not be abusive. He will truly care for his people, as a father of a family rather than as a tyrant.

Could it be true? Will this government be endless? What would it be like to have peace extended for multiple generations, forever. Could it happen? Would it? The prophet declared how it would come to pass: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” The One who presides over the army of heaven will make it happen. “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”



The mass choir makes sense, the audience does not. Why not the whole Bethlehem crowd? It was tax season. Or “the city of the great king”—Jerusalem?  Negative. A huge crowd of angels sang their hearts out—to a few shepherds, clearly on the low end of the social food chain. God is making a statement loud and clear.

People are often excluded. Lack of money, prestige, position, influence. The circle is drawn—and they are outside. Not when God draws it. He does not goes after the high and mighty but the low and poorly. Brains will not get you into the favor of God but humility will. You won’t buy your way or manipulate your way. Going low works. God has a predisposition for the needy. David wrote that “he is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” “Near” establishes proximity.

Shepherds definitely were on the outside. Their testimony did not even count in court. Their influence was limited to the few sheep they were fortunate enough to own—or that they shepherded for the owners.

Paul wrote, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…so that no one may boast before him” (I Cor. 1:26-29). There’s the statement God made on Christmas. And that is the way God is. As scripture attests, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble,” money or no money, influence or none.

If you are wondering what to do in your baffling situation at work, in a marriage that has ground to a halt, in a menacing relationship with a neighbor, consider humbling yourself. It is never inappropriate, and it always gets the attention of heaven, even when you would not expect it (Ahab—I Kings 21:29 & Manasseh—2 Chron. 33:12).

God doesn’t need our influence. Trust me—He has plenty in the universe. He doesn’t need our brains. His ways are higher (though He wants to use whatever brain-power He has given us). He doesn’t need our money. (He wants us to understand that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”). He does want our heart, the one that says with Mary, “Let it be according to your word,” rather than the one that tries to negotiate a deal.

The shepherds went for it. Instead of replying with skepticism (“Sure, a king in a feeding trough; right!”), they responded with genuine excitement: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” And “when they had seen him, the spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15,18,20). God proved that He went to the right people. Way to go, lowly shepherds! Way to go, humble Christian!



Jesus was the most humble person ever to walk on the planet. His mother may have been second. From the time she was a young virgin, she knew how to go low. We get a glimpse into meek Mary in the Christmas story:


When the angel Gabriel announces the blessing of God upon Mary, she questions the favor rather than saying, “About time someone notices me.” Proud people make assumptions about their position, expecting privileges and perks. They typically see themselves higher than what they really are, exaggerating their influence and importance.  Humble people see themselves on the low end of things and do not operate with expectations. Because they do not exalt themselves, God does, and the lower they go, the higher they get.


She might have thought, “Hmm. A baby coming. Well, I am engaged, so maybe it’s time to get married.” She says simply, “How will this be, for I am a virgin?” Zechariah’s question arose out of unbelief and offended the archangel. Mary’s question arose out of a pure and humble heart, and it blessed the messenger from heaven.


Proud people step into areas where they don’t belong because they feel like they deserve it.  Humble people have a realistic picture of themselves and a big picture of God. Mary lived a pure life rather than the way many others lived. She felt accountable to God. If you think they all lived that way in the Old Testament, you haven’t read it lately. Proud people use their freedom to step over the line. Humble people fear God.


She knew she was here on assignment. Her time was not her own Neither was her body. Proud people want to find out what rights they have. Mary called herself a doulos, literally “a bondservant,” the lowest of the low. She focused on responsibilities, not rights. Humble people pick up a towel, knowing they are here to serve.


Proud people tweak the agenda. Humble people give in to the plan of God. They love the word “submission.” Their heart is to obey, not stretch the limits. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). God wanted to use her body, and she said, “Okay.” Another woman thirty-three years later said, “Jesus can have my alabaster box.” A man a week later said, “Jesus can have my donkey.” A man on the Sanhedrin a week after that said, “He can have my grave.”


Proud people will use even holy moments to draw attention to themselves. It is not that humble people dump on themselves or think less of themselves–they just don’t think of themselves. Mary had been selected like no woman has ever been for a unique task never to be repeated. And she made her song all about God. Out of ten verses she says something about herself in one, then calling herself a doulos that God has kindly looked upon.  Humble people let God be great, even in them. Let’s be like Mary–and Mary’s Son!