This month I was thinking about Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus. Now for Evangelical Christians, thinking about the Virgin Mary is often a once-a-year thing. Mary can appear (figuratively speaking!) at Christmas along with the angels and animals in the crib nativity scene on the living-room mantelpiece. Then she is packed away carefully in the box until next Christmas. Well, this month I want to have a closer look at Mary from what we know about her in God's Word.
So who actually was Mary?
Why was she chosen by God?
How old was she when she was given one of the most important roles ever given?
And what would she think of the daily worship she receives all over the world?
The Bible tells us only so much about Mary. But what it does tell us speaks volumes of her faith, humility and overall character.
Mary was a young woman, probably under 16 years of age and she was from Nazareth, an insignificant town in northern Israel. She was a virgin and was engaged to a carpenter called Joseph. If you recall (Luke chapter 1), the archangel Gabriel told Mary that she had 'found favour with God' and had been chosen to give birth to the 'Son of the most High'. After Gabriel had explained everything, Mary responded with these words…
"Behold the bondservant of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word". (Luke 1:38)
Now I didn't appreciate Mary's great faith and obedience until I understood a little more of the world she lived in. Her response to Gabriel is actually quite extraordinary. Life back then was so different from what it is like today. In those days, for an engaged woman to be pregnant and not from her espoused husband could have meant stoning by death under the Law (Deut. 22:23-24). And as a minimum, surely the prospect of losing her fiancÚ over this news must have flashed through her head. Then there would be all the gossiping and the potential disgrace as an un-wed mother. And who on earth was going to believe her story! Here was Mary, just an ordinary humble Jewish girl, looking forward to marriage. In an instant, her life was changed forever!
Although she could not have comprehended how she would conceive the Saviour of the world, she still responded with obedience and great faith. And although she would indeed be 'blessed among women', what pain she would have to suffer in the role she willingly submitted to!
Mary was special, God chose her and He knows everything about every one of us. God knew that Mary was a woman of rare strength, humility and obedience. He knew the type of character she would have to be as the only person to remain with Jesus throughout His entire earthly ministry.
We can see the kind of person Mary was from Luke 1:46-55, commonly referred to as Mary's Song…
And Mary said:
"My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him…
Apart from the gospel of Luke, there are few passages in the Bible that mention Mary. But then, we need to understand, the Bible isn't about Mary - it is about Jesus!
Mary is special but man has given Mary roles that are just not biblical:
I love it that Mary acknowledges God as '…God my Saviour'. She knew it was not about her! It was only ever about a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. I believe that Mary would be angry, bewildered and embarrassed with the worship and adulation she receives from millions of people around the world today.
It was her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly sacrificed His life for this sinful world. God and God alone is worthy of our worship and adulation.
There is something about Mary.
She was chosen by God and gave birth and nurtured God's only begotten Son!
God chose Mary. Mary chose God.
That's the way it works.
God is still in the choosing business.
Let's be the kind of servant that He would choose to do His work today!
Until next month then (DV)…
(All Bible quotations are from the NASB)
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!