No first-time parent, no matter how many books they’ve read, will feel fully prepared for all the changes a baby will bring. Many say the trip home from the hospital is marked by nervousness. How will we care for this precious new life?
We don’t know what training Mary was given on how to care for a newborn. Perhaps she and Elizabeth covered this subject during their three-months visit. However, Elizabeth was a first-time mother as well, so her experience would have been limited.
We also don’t know what Mary was feeling as she made the trip to Bethlehem so late in her pregnancy. She probably wasn’t required to accompany Joseph. But commentators believe she traveled with him because they didn’t want to be apart when Jesus was born. Luke’s account of the birth is sparse, so we assume it occurred without incident (vv. 6, 7), although the lack of a proper accommodation would certainly have been shocking. Mary wrapped the babe tightly in cloth, a normal procedure for newborns and then placed Him in a manger—the opposite of normal! Shepherds, not family and friends, were the first to visit the baby (v. 16). And, consistent with her character, Mary treasured these things in her heart.
As was the custom, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple for His circumcision, Mary’s purification, and the presentation of the firstborn (vv. 22, 23). Simeon eagerly met them there and prophesied over the baby, not only about Israel’s response but also about Mary’s personal pain. “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel...And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (vv. 34, 35). Mary’s challenges would not end at her Son’s birth.
>> Nothing could have fully prepared Mary and Joseph for their role as Jesus’ parents. Yet God led them each step of the way. What challenges are you facing today? God was with Mary; in the same way, He will be with you.
We will all eventually face suffering, even if we haven’t already. Help us live in faith, not fear. Help us obey You in whatever You have called us to do, regardless of the cost.