Advent · Christmas · Faith · Life

Would I Have Really Known? {Thoughts on ‘Mary, Did You Know?’}


I close my eyes and in an instant I’m back in time. Back to that glider-rocker in the perfect shade of cream to tie the nursery together. Back to when I would sit and rock, absently rubbing my burgeoning belly and treasuring all the precious thoughts I had towards that sweet baby growing and wriggling within.

It was such a sweet time for me, that pregnancy. Not only was it my first, but she was due December 29. I remember finally relating to Mary in a more tangible way, expecting a baby so close to Christmas. I would rock and wonder what it would’ve really been like in her hometown. In her marriage. On the donkey. In the stable.

I sat and wondered if Mary felt a fraction of the fear, excitement and awe that I felt. Or did I even feel a fraction of what she felt?

I knew I was having a baby.

I knew it was a girl.

I knew it would be exhausting. And wonderful.

But, I didn’t really know. I didn’t fully understand.

I couldn’t possibly fully understand, until time and experience allowed me the luxury of understanding.

Photo by Miguel Ugalde
Photo by Miguel Ugalde
I think of the lyrics of the popular Christmas tune, Mary, Did You Know?:

“Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know,
That your baby boy
Has come to make you new?

This child that you delivered,
Will soon delivery you!”

We know from Luke 1 that Mary knew the child she was carrying was God’s Son. She knew there was a greater purpose than she could have ever dreamed for God to find favor in her, and to choose her to be the mother of The Messiah.

Yes, Mary knew that when she “kissed her little baby, [she] kissed the face of God.”

But I have to wonder, did she really know?

Could she have fathomed the depth of what that truly meant?

As she sat on the dirty floor of that filthy, muck-ridden stable, staring into the face of her precious newborn son, did she fully grasp the magnitude of the task that lay before Him? Before her?

I don’t know.

Just like there was no way to fully grasp the beauty, love, greatness and pain of bringing my own firstborn child into this world, I can’t help but think it was the same for her.

Even if she did know – really know – there’s no way in our finite minds and fogged-up hearts to fully know. The Bible also tells us that even though we think we understand the things of God, we only partially understand. It’s like we’re looking through a dim, foggy, mirror – seeing only fragments and distorted images. So it’s only natural that we wonder if it was the same for someone like Mary, whom we hold in very high regard, and tend to put on a spiritual pedestal. Was she able to get it?, we think. Because I certainly struggle with really, truly getting it.

I know there are some who really struggle with the theology behind a song like Mary, Did You Know?. However, here’s what I believe to be the truth:

Mary, Did You Know? is for us, not Mary. It’s to get us to stop, think and ask ourselves – “Wow, do I really grasp this? This is huge!”

The mental image of kissing the very face of God? It’s ironically and simultaneously terrifying and deeply intimate. Moving. Unfathomable.

Yet it’s true: the God of the burning bush, the God of the parted Red Sea, the God who brought countless dead back to life wants intimacy with us. He wants a real, personal, all-the-mess-of-family relationship with us.

And that’s what Mary, Did You Know? does for me.

It brings back the intimacy. It brings back the wonder. And it brings back the reality of just how crazy, how confusing and how miraculous the Christmas season truly is.

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