Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mary's Little Lamb

He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed …But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. (Isa 53:5-7)[i]

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

One of the hazards (if you can call it that) of knowing the Bible is that it makes it difficult to enjoy any movie that attempts to portray a biblical account.  Without much effort, one can find a plethora of inaccuracies with the retelling of the story or with the theology that is presented.  Anytime such a movie comes out, I am usually skeptical about wasting God’s money to go see it, but recently, there have been some very good exceptions to the rule.  “The Gospel of John” is an excellent example of well made Bible movie that remained, for the most part, true to the biblical text.  As I watched that movie, I found that I could recall exactly what chapter and verse was being depicted on the screen – much to the annoyance of my wife who was trying to enjoy the movie.  Another masterful rendition of biblical text was Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.”  Even though the dialogue was in the original languages of the time – Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic – I had no trouble staying up with the story line.  Except for the presentation of the origin of certain “relics,” the movie so stirred my emotions that I found little to criticize.

The most recent example of a great Bible movie was released just a few years ago.  It is “The Nativity Story.”  The movie is not without flaws (mainly chronological discrepancies at the end of the movie), but it is by far the best rendition on the birth of Christ that I have ever seen.  The main characters are cast as common, ordinary people.  Mary is a young woman from a very poor family.  She is still interested in playing with her friends.  She helps with the family business – that of making and selling goat cheese.  She is certainly not interested in marriage and when Joseph comes to ask for her hand, she reluctantly accepts only to appease her father who fears losing her to Roman tax collectors, not to mention needing the economic relief of one less mouth to feed.  Mary is not portrayed as overly religious, but when the angel announces that she has been chosen to bear the Son of God she accepts without argument except to question the possibility of pregnancy since she is sexually pure.[ii]  Shortly thereafter she requests permission to go visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also expecting.[iii]  There, Elizabeth affirms what Mary already knows.[iv]  Following a lengthy stay in her cousin’s home, Mary returns to Nazareth to be greeted by the critical stares of knowing neighbors.  When she breaks the news to her family and to Joseph, all are devastated and incredulous at her claim that this was an act of God.  At Joseph request, she could have been stoned to death, but instead, although brokenhearted, Joseph chooses to reserve judgment.  In a dream, Joseph receives confirmation that Mary’s claim is true, and he decides to accept her as his wife in spite of the ridicule they are sure to receive.[v]  Later Mary chooses to go with her “husband” to Bethlehem for the census that has been ordered by Caesar Augustus.[vi]  Their journey is difficult and fraught with peril.  Along the way, Joseph’s selflessness endears him to Mary, and it becomes obvious that her feelings toward him have changed.  They finally arrive at Bethlehem, and it is there that the Christ child is born.

What moves me so in this story is the genuineness of the feelings expressed by the main characters.  Mary, though willing to obey God’s design for her, questions her worthiness to carry out such an overwhelming assignment.  Joseph wonders if there will be anything that he can teach Him.  Both wonder how they will know for sure that He really is the Promised One.  Will it be something that He says?  Will it be a certain look that He will give them that lets them know?  When the baby is born, both shed the tears and laughter of joy that all new parents experience at the birth of a child.  Then you see the tiny little baby.  So small.  So fragile.  So helpless.  Incomprehensible is the thought that this little bundle of flabby flesh is the Almighty God incarnate!  Then the overpowering reality grips your heart as you realize that this, Mary’s little lamb, is the Lamb of God that will be sacrificed for the sins of the world – your sins and mine.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I AM


[i] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are taken from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE.  Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.
[vii] Green, Buddy and Mark Lowry, “Mary Did You Know”


Seth Trotman said...

Curious why you're using the NASB?

Ernie Carrasco said...

I originally wrote this in 2008. That was before I came back to the KJV, which I believe is a superior translation.