Today, I’ve been thinking about immaculate conception.
When you have a baby in a committed relationship with someone, the idea is that your offspring will inhabit traits of both his or her parents, and that those similarities would be a blessing by serving as a reminder of who they are made out of. Her father’s laugh. Her mother’s browline. Things that have no call to exist in a child except thsy like they share one’s same genetic background. With Christ being the likeness of God and demonstrating God’s divine character, it only makes sense that he be of yhe direct lineage (Jacob, root of Jesse, King David, etc) of God. In a way that becomes as obvious as staring at a small child’s oblivious quirks that make you think of his Dad, that is who Christ is to us.
Now, I’m not even going to touch the virgin birth thing, because for my purpose and potentially yours, we are taking that on faith. But let’s take a moment to consider how as people, our sins are passed on to our offspring. Not everything we pass on is good, which is why I’ll tell you from experience that I have one helluva temper. At the same time, Christ was literally bred by redemption. The perfection of God via his Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary to make way for his son, which is more than just cool imagery. His power became her vindication, and take a moment to think about that. I really doubt she had an easy go of it explaining that pregnancy. God surely had to step in various times to make sure everything went smoothly, as well as to give her the confidence to bear up before and after she bore her son. It’s so twisted, because the world probably thought Christ was a product of shame, to be borne in secrecy. He was birthed in a freaking manger, among farm animals and potentially feces. And yet, from the most humble of beginnings, we are saved.
The idea of purity gets abused in our culture. As perfect and whole as God is, it wasn’t about who Mary was but who God would be to her, and the faith she had in him. We often emphasize Mary’s virginity as though it is the most important part of this story, but we also shouldnt ignore how much faith she had to have had in God to see any of this through, and that she was blessed by believing God would fulfill the promise he spoke to her. By her faith also, we are healed. At a time where she had seemed to have probably lost a lot of her value to her peers and family as someone who would make worthy bride and who was nearly rejected by Joseph, she still found strength in God to see her through it. That would have been a lot.
I know our culture and the church make a war out of what it means to be submissive, but I think in Mary’s case it just means that she had trust through faith that whatever God was doing would be enough for her, and by faith in him she allowed the Holy Spirit to carry her through some pretty rough circumstances. Since she is also human, she surely was in no way perfect. But like the way we recieve grace in Christ, she believed, and she had strength long enough to recieve Christ in the flesh, as we recieve his spirit. Given that physical manifestations of grace come first from the Spirit, that would have taken a lot of faith and a lot of divine intervention. Clearly, it is still good that she believed.