“All men will hate you because of me.”
This will undoubtedly seem a strange verse to highlight in a column focusing on the virgin Mary.
She was, after all, the blessed one chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. However, today I would like to write about something I have never seen nor heard anyone write about.
Perhaps the reason I have not is simply the product of the circles I associate with, I do not know. But the bottom line is that I cannot recall ever having heard anyone address the down side of being blessed by God in this life as it must have related to Mary.
I can understand why many might be reluctant to talk about it because it is not mentioned in the Bible (except indirectly in the action Joseph was planning to take). They might be reluctant also for the reason Paul gave when he said, “Present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18-19).
However, it does not place much strain on our sanctified imagination to realize some of what Mary must have had to suffer when those around her discovered that this unmarried woman was pregnant.
And then her statement that God, Himself had impregnated her must have sounded like the ultimate blasphemy.
It is probably difficult for many today to understand just how she would have been persecuted. In a society that generally accepts the pregnancy of unwed mothers as normal and publishes the births of their children in the local paper, the way Mary’s contemporaries would have treated her would seem “puritanical” to many today.
(I use the word “puritanical” in the generally accepted definition of the term and not the truth about who they were.)
Mary would have suffered greatly from the scorn and ridicule of those who would not believe her story. She would have suffered at the hands of her intended, Joseph, had not the Lord, Himself appeared to him in a most convincing dream.
In truth, from a human perspective, it would have been a difficult story to believe, even though it was promised that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. I cannot help but wonder how many other young pregnant women might have tried that explanation before Mary.
I remember well the time that a man told me his daughter was pregnant and that she swore she had never been with a boy. She claimed that she must be pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
He asked me what I thought. I was on more solid ground than those in Mary’s day and could assure him that she was not, because the promise that a virgin would give birth had already been fulfilled.
Mary was blessed, as are all who trust fully in Christ. What we must realize today is that with the blessing of the Lord comes persecution in this life.
Jesus clearly warned us that relationship with Him would bring the hatred of the world down like a flood. He said, “All men will hate you because of me.” (Luke 21:17-18).
He prepared his followers for the persecution that would come because of His name. It was true of the Prophets in Israel and it is still true today.
We need to be aware and prepare our hearts so that we do not compromise or back away from the truth out of fear of such treatment at the hands of worldly men and women, outside or inside the church.
Pastor David M. Grey
Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church