July 3

Mary, Part 1

Luke 1:38a And Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Mary is one of the most beautiful, humble, and godly figures in the scripture, and her life is worthy of serious study. Yet because the medieval church put some unbiblical associations on her (e.g., she was conceived without sin, she remained sinless throughout her life, she was taken directly into heaven, she is some kind of mediator between man and God), Christians after the time of the Reformation have been reluctant to put any serious attention on her, lest we swing the pendulum too far back in the other direction and shift the wrong kind of attention on her again.

To set the record straight, of course, we must settle a few things: Mary isn’t God’s mother; she gave birth to the Man who was the incarnation of the Son of God. She also had other children than Jesus (Matthew 13:55 and others), including James and Jude, authors of the books bearing their name in the New Testament.

In spite of the unscriptural ideas and identities associated with her, all serious believers should study Mary, for her life and for her words. There is far too much for us to learn from her to put her in the shadows. Not only is she an incredible example of faith and obedience, but her life is a demonstration of what God can do in the life of a willing servant.

For all of us—those who have perhaps given her a greater role than the Bible shows, and for those of us who count her as a fellow believer—she has two quotes that give us all the direction we need from a human. Her first quote above (Luke 1:38a) exhibits a heart of complete surrender and trust: “Let it be to me according to Your word.” Mary had just been told that she would be with child out of wedlock, which meant shame and possible stoning as a fornicator. At the least, her child would have suffered from questions about the legitimacy of his birth, which Jesus probably faced (see John 8:41, very possibly a sarcastic reference to questions surrounding Mary’s pregnancy). She was not naïve about what this pregnancy would mean, which makes her open trusting response all the more remarkable.

Then there is John 2:5, which is the perfect scripture for those who believe that Mary has a special kind of intercessory role. While I Timothy 2:5 takes care of it from a doctrinal perspective (“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…), Mary’s own words are the closest thing we’ll find to any direction she gives us as fellow believers: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Her own words of guidance point right back to Jesus, encouraging us to submit as she did to the word of the Lord before Jesus was born.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for such an example of humility and godliness as Mary. Help me to have the open and trusting heart she demonstrated, believing that You knew best even when she knew what some of the repercussions of her obedience might be. That’s the kind of trusting heart I want.

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