1 Timothy 2:15 But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (NIV)
Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (NIV)
Psalm 132:11-12 (NIV):
The Lord swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons will sit
on your throne for ever and ever.”
Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (NIV)
Mary’s role in the Christmas story has always been mesmerizing to me. I am lucky this Christmas, because I will be able to savor this holiday with the realization that Mary’s obedience and her act of childbearing by birthing the Christ was in order to restore humanity, after Eve’s sin. While I believe that there is ample evidence in Genesis to condemn both men and women in the Fall, I have never thought of Christmas as the birth of a Prince of Peace that would bring about the salvation of Zion (and Israel) specifically through female imagery.
With Zion’s bridegroom being Christ, it makes sense that the Lord would rule over her, since he is holy. Instead of being coerced by fellow human beings who are also guilty of sin, Zion (as the body of believers) has hope in the leadership of Christ because he is righteous and laid down his life for her best interests. Having taken centuries to become fulfilled, the symbolism of birth and labor pains (Romans 8:22) is so appropriate to the redemption we are given by new life in Christ, given the struggle it has taken creation to get there.
I think 1 Timothy 2:15 may also be a good depiction of Mary’s character. Having the outlandish faith to 1) Believe that God’s promise would be fulfilled, and 2) Live by faith after she had decided to go ahead and accept God’s word as truth must have taken a lot of character. Without Mary’s willingness to suffer alongside her Son, none of this would have been possible. With Mary starting out in the Christmas Story as a Virgin, in the same stage of life as Zion awaiting her husband, you can bet that symbolism was on purpose.
Mary’s lineage was blessed because of the faith of her ancestors, and because at various points, all these different people had decided to appeal to God, and he remembered them. Without suffering and without learning from their sin, they would not have received the blessing, and correspondingly necessary correction, that comes from God. While so many people have yet to hear of this completed miracle, offered to us by the blood and grace of Christ, it is amazing to me that God’s steadfast nature called this battle finished before Christ was ever fully incarnate. God had been promising and promising a solution, and finally they received into the world his word made flesh. God knew he was going to fulfill his promise then (really, long before it), but he tested people’s faith so that they would trust in him. Thirty-three years later and by resurrecting a fallen Savior, we have the eternal life that every human, from the first sin to the Fountain of Youth to Ponds beauty cream has been looking for. We finally have those streams of living water. In this little baby, we have finally received our King.