Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why Mary?

Brooke, Mason and Ashlyn 2010

Mary was possibly between the age of twelve and eighteen, when she was told she would carry the Son of God.  My oldest daughter is eleven years old.  While she was quite a feisty toddler, she has grown into a beautiful, caring and sweet girl.  She is reserved and a bit shy, but very motivated and dependable.  Her work ethic and determination amaze me.  Often I reflect on the love the Lord must have for me, to give this precious first born child.  I am so grateful for her.  She loves the Lord and has a sweet relationship with Him.  As crazy as I am about her and as mature as she is for an eleven year old, she is still a child, maturity is incomplete, and a deep knowledge of God's word is not adequately developed.

When I consider my own daughter, I can't imagine the obligation given to Mary at such a young age to carry a child.  Even greater, I can't imagine the incredibly awesome proclamation given to carry the Son of God!  I am not disregardful of the fact that even before this responsibility was given, she was engaged to be married. 

Mary is one of the most amazing women in the Bible and in all of history.  Certainly, this is true because as a virgin, she carried the Son of God.  This fact alone places her in a category all of her own.  But, why Mary?  Was she perfect?  Was she befitting to carry a King?  To answer these questions, we must first acknowledge that God is Sovereign.  He "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." (Ephesians 1:11)  Choosing Mary was God's choice, because He is Sovereign.  He is Creator of the universe and Mary was the one chosen to fulfill His will. 

We cannot assume that Mary had done great works in her young life, and such was the reason she was chosen.  Doing good works to earn salvation defies the premise of the christian faith.  If we could do good works and actually keep the law, Jesus' death was in vain.  There is nothing we can do to gain entrance into heaven.  We fall short constantly, and it is the recognition of this and the acceptance of the Sacrificial Lamb of God, which offer us salvation.  The 'works' of Christians come from an outpouring of love to serve our Lord, and is a result of our salvation.  Salvation is not a result of our works.  I think Mary had a deep understanding of this and an acceptance of the Christ-child growing within as a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies. 

   As a young Jewish girl,  Mary would have studied and respected the law.  It is clear that she was knowledgeable about God's word and had a deep love for Him.  It is also clear, by her actions that she was full of humility.  Then the angel said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.  Mary was greatly troubled." (Luke 1:28,29)  We can assume by the angel's response, "Do not be afraid" (Luke 1:30) that 'greatly troubled' meant Mary was fearful or terrified.  She was 'troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.'

Imagine Gabriel, the angel who "stands in the presence of God" (Luke 1:19) coming to you with a message, "Greetings, you who are higly favored!  The Lord is with you." (Luke 1:28)  I think I would look around and think, "Who? Are you talking to me?"  I would be in disbelief that an angel would want to talk to me ,and out of shame and unworthiness, probably hide!  This would not be from humility so much, but more of a remembrance of the sea of sins flooding my mind!  I, too would wonder what kind of greeting this might be!  I might be 'greatly troubled' thinking the angel was sent to bring me 'home!'

Mary was just a girl and I am sure the presence of the angel of God with a commanding voice caused her to tremble; however, I think it was the humility of her heart that caused Mary to be 'greatly troubled.'   She knew the stories, the prophesies, the angels and the miracles of the Old Testament; and she believed them.  I think her fear was from a feeling of unworthiness.  Dr. Tom Berry in his sermon, "Why God Chose Mary," states that she may have had the fear of uncertainty, the fear of inadequacy, the fear of change and even the fear of criticism.  Often when presented with change, we respond in the same way and assuredly, we have never had such a powerful change to be presented that would alter the path of mankind.

After the angel comforted her by saying, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God," Mary probably relaxed a bit and with eagerness, listened intently.  Can you imagine the thoughts and feelings going through Mary's mind as these words fell upon her, "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:30-33)

Mary did not question the messenger of the Lord with, "How can this be?"  Recalling the Old Testament verse Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; The virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel,"  Mary asked, "How will this be?"  (Luke 1:34)  With an acceptance of her fate, Mary wanted to know the logistics!  God's miracles are plentiful and as a response, Gabriel said the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her.  He assured Mary, "For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)

Mary replied, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."   As I attempt to empathize with Mary and understand the awesome responsibility before her, I am overcome with one consistent and powerful thought: the first christian was a woman; Mary, the mother of the Most High.     Excitement must have overcome Mary as she realized she was a part of the fulfillment of over three hundred prophesies foretold about Jesus.  Mary believed the little baby soon to be born was Jesus Christ, well before He was old enough to perform any miracles.  She believed the Child she carried was a miracle!  After He was born, I can't imagine the overwhelming feelings she must have felt as she nurtured and kissed the precious face of God!

Although we are not told about any glaring sins in Mary's life, she, like the rest of us, was a sinner.   The image I have of Mary is that she was a sweet girl; young but wise beyond her years.  She probably had the reputation of being a good girl who obeyed her parents.  She was probably smart, as she had studied and knew God's word by heart.  Mary would have known that the engagement to Joseph was binding.  A public announcement among the Jewish people would have been made and a formal engagement was probably held.  A Jewish engagement often lasted a year and was like a marriage without the consummation.  A woman found with child out of wedlock was to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24.)  Her reputation and her life were at stake.  The most amazing thing to me is this:  Mary "regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value"  than her reputation and her own life. (Hebrews 11:26)  Can you imagine giving up your good reputation, and risking your life for something you knew others would surely mock or worse,  stone you to death?  Mary believed and trusted her Father God.  She knew He would protect and take care of her.

Mary was not perfect, but she was humble and totally submitted to God.  She loved the Lord and she knew His word.  Mary was poor, but this hardship did not deter her from trusting the Lord to provide.  She enjoyed a simple, yet blessed life.  She was probably characterized by holy living and demonstrated a heart of gratitude.

Mary is only mentioned a few times in the Bible.  I think she would have wanted it that way.  When asked why God chose her, I believe Mary would have answered, "I do not think I have any special qualities.  I don't claim anything for the work.  It is His work.  I am like a little pencil in His hand, that is all.  He does the thinking.  He does the writing.  The pencil has nothing to do with it.  The pencil has only to be allowed to be used."  (Mother Teresa) Mary's soul glorified the Lord and she rejoiced in God her Savior, but she didn't seek the praise.  Mary sang that all generations would call her blessed (Luke 1:48;) blessed not because of her greatness, but because she carried Greatness himself, the holy Son of God.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Sources: The NIV Bible; Biblegateway;; Bible Probe;
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Unknown said...

a lovely message!
Happy Christmas to you and your family!

Lori @ Dining Delight said...

How wonderful to read your thoughts about Mary on the eve before we celebrate Jesus' birth! You have summed up many aspects of this great event and how Mary must have felt as well as conveying basics of Christian faith in an interesting manner. I attend a Lutheran church (LCC) and am happy to read a blog post that reflects many of my beliefs. A Blessed and Joyous Christmas to you!


It's me said...

Merry merry Xmas from me ...enjoy these days.....thanks for your you


steph said...

i love your blog and love the decor ideas! I found it looking for ressurection decor ideas because the holiday is widely known as easter and eggs and bunnies... anyway love it! love that you share a little knowledge too!

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