A Woman's Perspective on the Incarnation

Every December I am especially thankful that I am a woman. You see, I think as women, and especially as mothers, we are in a unique position to appreciate certain aspects of the mystery of the incarnation.

Twenty years ago I was “great with child”, carrying our firstborn. Tim and I spent December waiting, waiting, for this new child to make his arrival. I wondered questions common to all expectant mothers: “What would this new baby be like? What kind of person would he grow up to be? How would our lives change?” As I waited, I also thought of Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary, a young woman given to “pondering” must have wondered similar things. She, though, had greater things to contemplate. She knew that her baby was unlike any other baby ever born. Among others things, she’d been told that He would be great, that His kingdom would last forever, and that He was the Son of God. Thinking of all the angel told her, and then the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, Mary might have been confused and afraid, but instead reacted with submission, trust, and praise.

I thought of Mary also that December while I walked and walked trying to hasten the arrival of my little one who was not even due until some time in January. That journey Mary took from Nazareth to Bethlehem, between 60-70 miles, whether by foot or donkey, must have helped prepare her body for labor. Was she exhausted or just eager to hold that most precious One? Was she scared or trusting? And then, when Andrew was born just after Christmas, in a well-equipped but homey birth center, I thought of the contrast between that place and a crude stable. I’d grown up around enough barns to have no rose-colored (or scented) sentimental ideas about animal’s quarters. I had a caring professional nurse-midwife to help me, but it seems that Mary was alone, apart from Joseph, this husband around whom she must have still felt shy.

Much as I like being pregnant in December, having a newborn is even better. Holding a tiny little person, I am continually astounded that our Savior would humble Himself by taking on human flesh. I mean, if He had to do that (and He did), why didn’t he just come to earth as a full-grown adult? Babies are so utterly incapable of doing anything. A new baby can’t even smile for about six weeks. And yet, the God of Gods, Creator of all things, became a human baby! He would have needed Mary to nurse Him, to keep Him clean and warm. He also had to rely on Joseph to protect and provide for Him, care for and teach Him. Unfathomable. With a new baby in my arms I always find myself thinking again how His love for us is so far beyond comprehension.

Last year our new baby was little Benjamin. With Ben we did something that we had not done with any others, and this was to swaddle him. This was the one thing that helped soothe this very difficult, colicky baby. Now swaddling doesn’t mean just casually wrapping a baby with a blanket. This millennia-old custom involves tightly wrapping a baby, with arms pinned to his sides, legs straight. When I was a child I was taught that Mary wrapped Jesus in strips of cloth because she was poor. No, that isn’t so. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes because she loved him, and knew that swaddling makes babies feel secure. So as we wrapped Ben, we thought of Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes. But what did it mean for the Lord Jesus to be restricted, tied up, bound? Maybe it is another picture of what He did as described in Philippians 2, emptying Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in appearance as a man. Thirty-three years later He completed His task by again letting Himself be bound, standing silent before His accusers, and then “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Unfathomable. How great is the Father’s love for us!


mrsd said…
Super post. Loved this thought, "...it seems that Mary was alone, apart from Joseph, this husband around whom she must have still felt shy." That was something I hadn't considered before, the shyness, but once you pointed it out, it's obvious. :)

And the thought of such greatness humbling down to a tiny baby never ceases to amaze me. But if you think about it, He humbled down even smaller, into a sperm and an egg. The blood of God! Awesome...

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