Mary was the last person anyone would have expected God to use in such a miraculous fashion, yet she was an integral part of His plan. Religious leaders of the day certainly weren't looking for an unwed teenage mother to deliver the Child through whom the entire world could find deliverance. Despite the prophecies, they weren't looking for an infant in Bethlehem. Their preconceptions about who God could use led them to miss the Messiah.
There were exceptions, of course. The shepherds who were out minding their own business were easy converts when an angel showed up with a story to tell, soon accompanied by a heavenly host praising God. There were also devoted servants of God who understood the prophecies and who immediately recognized Jesus for who He was when He was just a few weeks old.
From Luke 2:25-38:
|Source: Microsoft Clip Art|
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (NIV)
Simeon and Anna recognized God's handiwork, even when He colored outside the lines. They understood that it's not our job to tell God who He can use, or how He can act. They understood that when God says that something will happen, it will happen, even if His methods don't make sense. They understood that when it comes to God, you have to expect the unexpected...especially if He's already told you exactly what He's going to do.
Until next time,
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us). ~ Isaiah 7:14