Mary. Some exalt her to an equal status of holiness with the Christ-child she carried in her womb, and others nearly ignore her in an effort to compensate for the idolization of her.
What does the Bible say about Mary and how is this important to our celebration of Christ’s birth this year and every year?
Mary Found Favor with God
The Bible says that Mary found favor with God. (Luke 1:28, 30)
In considering the Biblical accounts of men and women who obtained the favor of the Lord, the following stand out: Noah, David, Job, and Mary.
How does the righteous and holy standing of Mary before God compare with other Hebrew people recorded in the Old Testament?
Noah was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9, 7:1). Yet, Noah’s righteousness did not mean that he did not sin because we see that just shortly after he left the ark he sinned by becoming drunk (Genesis 9:20-21, Ephesians 5:18). David, was a “man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22),” and yet we can all point to the fact that David sinned in his adulteress sexual relations with Bathsheba, and then subsequently having her husband killed. Job, in Job 1:1 is characterized as a man “blameless and upright, he feared God and shunned evil.” Yet, Job, when he had spoken with and seen God, said, “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
Our first encounter with Mary is similar in that the angel Gabriel declares, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1: 28, 30) Based on the accounts of Noah, David, and Job, we can conclude that finding favor with God does not equal a sinless state. (Romans 3:23) Further,we gain hope and encouragement that finding favor with God is possible for us as it was possible for Noah, David, Job, and Mary before us.
Let us rejoice in the fact that though we are wretched sinners God characterizes us as ones who gain His favor because of our faith in the Messiah and obedience to His commands. For Noah, David, and Job it was God’s promised Messiah to come. For Mary and for us it is in belief in the Messiah that has come.
Mary Was Faithful
The Bible says that Mary believed God and was His faithful servant. (Luke 1:38, 45)
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me- holy is his name.” – Luke 1:46-49
Mary praised God for the honor of being the chosen vessel to birth the Messiah who would fulfill prophecy and redemption for all mankind. We can glean an attitude of humility from Mary that God would choose to use us to accomplish His divine purpose and eternal plan.
Following the shepherds' visit and Jesus’ staying behind in the temple, the Bible says that Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51) Mary, unlike us, wasn't privy to cameras and recorders to capture all the special moments and firsts of Christ. She had to record her beloved Savior’s face and firsts on the imprints of her heart and mind. More than this, Mary pondered the ways and works of God.
In our hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and all of the year, we can neglect meditation on the words and works of God. Mary sets another example of God-honoring living by thinking on Christ.
Mary at the Foot of the Cross
The Bible leaves Mary at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25-27) That is where we should leave Mary. Not as an exalted figure by which we can speak to God, not as a iconic statue to be praised and worshiped, nor as a fashion accessory or good luck charm, but rather as Christ-servant and fellow sinner in need of the Savior. This is where everyone is found in relation to Christ--the foot of the cross.
In looking at Mary this Christmas, I will see her as:
- A young woman who lived in such a way to please God that she gained His favor to be a chosen vessel for accomplishing God’s divine and eternal will.
- One who believed God and served him faithfully.
- One who pondered the ways of God and Christ.
- One blessed to know Christ in infancy, life, death, and his glorified and resurrected state in heaven.
In response to the life of this godly woman I will:
- Like Mary, ponder God’s gift of Jesus and his way in which He accomplished Christ’s birth. See Luke 1 and 2.
- Put Mary in proper perspective this Christmas and praise the Creator not the created one.
- Walk humbly with God so at the right time God will see fit to use me…not all my life, but today and then the same tomorrow and the same tomorrow.
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