Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a perfect example of God’s way of choosing those the world would call ordinary to reveal His extraordinary. Man places emphasis on outer appearance; God focuses on heart.
“But God hath chosen the foolish things
of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things
of the world to confound
the things which are mighty;”
1 Corinthians 1:27
What did God see in Mary? What set her apart from all others?
An angel appeared to Mary saying,
“Greetings, you who are highly favoured!
The Lord is with you.”
Favoured here means to bestow grace upon or endue with special honour. It is the same verb used in Ephesians 1:6 where it is translated, freely given, poured upon, blessed with, bestowed, or made accepted. It is a reminder that all merit or grace comes from The Lord — for Mary and for us.
The angel continued,
“…Do not be afraid, Mary;
you have found favour with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you are to call him 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
Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”
Questions rose like unstoppable waves in Mary’s mind. A virgin conceive? The angel gently calms her fear; this conception, unlike any other, will be through the Holy Spirit.
Mary received by faith what many professing Christians continue to doubt — the virgin birth of the Messiah. How could this be possible?
“For no word from God will ever fail.”
This verse literally translated says, “With the word God gives, He gives the power to fulfill it”. Mary believed! Her faith rested in the Almighty God who gave His Word.
“I am the Lord’s servant,”
“May your word to me be fulfilled...”
Don’t be deceived! Mary’s declaration wasn’t new! Long before this day, Mary had already chosen The One she would serve. Choices predetermined in the calm will not waiver in the storm. Decisions made in the day will go unquestioned during the night. In human weakness, God proves strong!
Mary quickly hurried off to see Elizabeth & Zechariah. Elizabeth carried in her once barren womb the child destined to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the baby leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Elizabeth prophesied blessing upon Mary and The Holy Child hidden within. What extravagant worship flowed from the hearts of these two amazing mothers — one whose days appeared almost over, another whose life was barely beginning!
Mary`s first words acknowledge her need of a personal Saviour,
“…My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.”
Power, position, and privilege reveal true character. We find in this young woman, probably still a teenager, a steadfast, humble heart of worship.
Embedded in her prayer is a dozen quotations from Old Testament Scriptures. Although she undoubtedly had no formal education and was illiterate, Mary had listened closely to the reading of God’s Word hiding it in her heart.
This treasuring of God’s Word continued. Whether coming from the mouths of worshipping shepherds or from the aged prophets, Simeon & Anna,
“…Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart.”
God’s words at times were piercing; at other times, like honey to the soul. Mary received them all with equal grace, humility, and surrender — treasuring, valuing, cherishing each as precious. Every utterance pregnant with promise!
A Mother’s Surrender
It is one thing to surrender ourselves; it is another to surrender our children. Mary, together with her husband Joseph, dedicated Jesus to the Lord. Women weren’t required to attend the yearly Passover; yet together Joseph and Mary went.
It was Mary who spoke up after Jesus had gone missing,
“After three days they found him
in the temple courts,
sitting among the teachers
listening to them and
asking them questions.”
Jesus felt “at home” in God’s house. Even though she didn’t understand, Mary again “treasured all these things in her heart.” Content, perhaps, to know her Son possessed a listening heart!
A mother, surrendered and listening to God, willingly yields her children to His design.
Years pass quickly! Like his father Joseph, Jesus became a carpenter. But for three days the carpenter’s shop was quiet; the apron unmoved upon the bench. A recent baptism! A cluster of followers forming!
Something was shifting; her mother heart knew it.
“They have no wine,” were her only words to Jesus.
“Woman why do you involve me?
“My hour has not yet come.”
Refusing offence, her words to others echo her knowing heart, “Do whatever he tells you.” Surrender precedes miracle!
No time for demanding or needing,
manipulation or co-dependency,
self-pity or control.
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Without understanding all God was doing, Mary gave her Son again, and again, and yet again to His Sovereign will
as an infant and then a child,
at the wedding in Cana,
and when people called Him
crazy or demon-possessed,
even at the cross,
and the tomb.
From conception on, Mary believed. She followed Jesus both with a mother’s love and a disciple’s commitment. In steadfast devotion, she accompanied His last fatal journey to Golgotha.
To the tomb she plodded with heart numbed by grief. Here, on resurrection morning, sorrow turned to joy! Mary and a handful of women were among the first to voice this powerful message,
“He is not here:
for he is risen, as he said.”
Was she one of the unnamed with “The Eleven and those … assembled together” when Jesus entered revealing nail-scarred hands and feet? Later after Jesus’ ascension, we see her among those continually praying in the upper room. Waiting and seeking the promised Holy Spirit.
Years of prayerful abiding, sustained and prepared her.
“And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever
— the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him,
because it neither sees
him nor knows him. But you know him,
for he lives with you
and will be in you.”
Mother of Promise
Mary was one woman, a “humble servant”, who treasured God’s promise — not for a moment but for a life time.
What about us? Whether man or woman! We too can become people of promise as we
surrender in humble submission,
cherish God’s word as precious,
believe beyond understanding,
position ourselves in prayer,
and steadfastly follow
In weakness, we find strength. God is adequate in our insufficiency. Upon common circumstance, He breathes His extraordinary, crowning our little with favour.
Until, in Him we too become children of promise!
“So in Christ Jesus you are
all children of God through faith,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
If you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s seed,
and heirs according to the promise.”
Mary became an unexpected heir of promise, not once but twice. First in her womb, as a virgin; then in her heart, as a disciple. What generations had long hoped for, Mary received — Christ, the Saviour!
Now by faith in Jesus Christ, there is equal access. The promise of eternal salvation is offered freely to each of us. Who today will believe? Will you? Will I?