Mary Did You Know — especially the Kenny Rogers/Wynonna version — is one of my favorite Christmas songs, I think because it’s so thought-provoking. As a young girl I would hear the song and try to imagine being Mary — an unwed virgin teenager all of the sudden pregnant with the Messiah. I imagine her being confused and scared and uncertain. I see her asking “Why me?” and “What next” and not being able to comprehend it all.
One of my favorite Bible verses is about Mary in Luke 2:19. Jesus has just been born, the angels have appeared and the shepherds have come, and Scripture says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Of course she did! She had a lot to treasure and a lot to ponder and sort out.
The “Mary Did You Know” song took on an even more special meaning to me four years ago. I was pregnant with Caden — he was due Dec. 28 — so I was, like Mary, “great with child.” Being fullterm with a baby at the time of year that we celebrate Jesus’ birth added this extra layer, if you will, of connection to the Christmas story. I could in no way imagine what it was really like to be Mary. But hearing songs like “Mary Did You Know” while pregnant at Christmas … I don’t know, was just powerful. I could more easily put myself in her place. I was hugely pregnant, I was feeling the baby kick, and I was very much aware of his impending arrival. I was having a boy even! I was a little anxious about the delivery and adjusting to change. I played Mary in the Christmas play at church so I’m sure that was a factor too. Also, I have a very vivid and creative imagination that I think made it possible for me to take myself to a place where I was Mary and I would try to imagine what she was thinking, feeling, etc.
I read somewhere recently a question about whether or not Mary knew or understood what was going on. One side of the argument was how could she not? She had been read the Scripture, she knew the prophesies, and had religious leaders in her family that would have known the Scriptures well even if Mary didn’t. For example, she probably knew from her upbringing that the Scriptures prophesied that baby Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, so perhaps they were planning all along that when it came time for the baby to be born they’d start working their way to Bethlehem to make sure and be there to fulfill prophecy. I imagine, instead, that at whatever point Joseph and Mary were notified to report to Bethlehem for the census that they had an “aha” moment — “Oh, that’s how He’s going to get us there.” Maybe. Just a thought.
Too, people just didn’t get it. They didn’t get how the Messiah was going to come, how He was going to save them. I imagine that Mary didn’t full get it either (thus all her pondering). Even though she had the angel telling her what was going on and Scriptures oulining what was going to happen, I think God was so big in this that she couldn’t wrap her brain around it long enough to make it make sense. I feel that way about God today. Some things are just so Him that no matter how hard I try, I can’t make them make sense in my finite mind.