Did Mary Know?
I really love to argue. My wife does too. We often get into silly arguments about meaningless things.
The other day, I saw a tweet from Jon Acuff. It was a poll, asking his followers which Christmas song was worse: “Christmas Shoes,” “Christmas with a Capital C,” or “Mary Did You Know?”.
Never having heard the second option 1, I shortened the list and asked Sam, “Which is worse, ‘Christmas Shoes or Mary Did You Know?’”
Then started the debate…
The theologian I am, I obviously landed on the side of Mary Did You Know. (MDYK from here on out.) It’s theologically dubious.
“Of course Mary knows!,” I argued.
This debate continued for a good 15 or 20 minutes, resulting in a Facebook post to see who my friends sided with, obviously.
Unfortunately, Facebook seemed to be with Sam:
“Definitely Christmas Shoes. Not even close. Stupid Christmas shoes…”
“Christmas shoes… way too sappy. Christmas Shoes is the Lifetime movie of Christmas songs.”
And of course, this one…
“I agree with whatever Sam said.”
By the end of our argument, I was actually on her side as well.
My reasoning, and much of the internet’s on this issue, is that MDYK has a ridiculous premise. Of course Mary knew! She was told by an Angel, and conceived a child from God.
She conceived a child from God.
She obviously knew Jesus was the Messiah. She obviously knew he was our Savior.
But did she?
Did she really know he would walk on water, heal the blind, calm storms with his hand — that when she kissed him, she was kissing the face of God? Did she really know?
She wasn’t actually told a whole lot. Luke’s account of the appearance of Gabriel is the most robust we have. This is what it tells us,
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacobʼs descendants forever; his kingdom will never end… So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
He will be called “the Son of the Most High” and “the Son of God.” And she was going to give birth to him by the Holy Spirit.
That’s what she knew. That’s all she knew.
How crazy would that be? Talk about an assignment without enough instructions.
The Jews at the time, presumably including Mary, thought the Messiah was going to be an earthly King, delivering the Jews from the Romans. They thought he was going to be a military hero, a prophet, a great man.
He turned out to be something completely different. Something no one could have predicted.
No one knew it was going to be God himself taking human form.
But that’s the beauty of the Christmas message. The incarnation is so much more than what anyone could have ever imagined.
Aristotle believed the idea of friendship with God was completely ludicrous. God is so different, so separated, so infinite, that there was no way he and finite man could have relationship.
The incarnation blew that to pieces. The incarnation says that yes, God is infinite, but he took on the finite. He became man so we could have relationship with him.
It’s an idea so crazy, and so beautiful that no one, not even Mary, could have known it was possible.
So given the fact that MDYK doesn’t have lyrics as ridiculous as I thought, and that it seems nearly impossible to find a version of “Christmas Shoes” that doesn’t make me feel the need to apologize to anyone in earshot for hitting play 2, I’m gonna have to side with Sam on this one too.
1. Turns out the argument was pointless, because this one is most definitely the worst. (I was going to include a link to it, but I care for you too much.)↩
2. FM Static actually has a decent version. Thank you 2000s Christian rock.↩