Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leading Ladies: Mary, Jesus' Mother

I believe one of the most beautiful descriptions written about a person in the Bible is the one of Mary. Luke 1:30 says, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." How amazing to be told that, or have that said of you? Isn't that all we want out of this life, to have God's favor? And that is exactly what we see in Mary.

If Mary found favor with God, then certainly examining her characteristics would be beneficial to all of us who would also like to be found in favor with God.

Let's examine the text of Luke 1 verses 27-48 and notice four characteristics that hopefully we can implement into our lives.

1: Mary was pure (v.27) - The Bible tells us that Mary was a virgin, which was a crucial characteristic for the mother of Jesus. Had Mary not chosen to live a pure life, she would have never been chosen to be Jesus' mother.  Clearly purity = favorable to God. For those who are not married, abstaining from sexual sins is a must. The only sexual intimacy that God condones is that which is found inside of a God-approved marriage. Any other sexual promiscuity is simply unacceptable/unfavored in God's sight. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus told His hearers that the pure in heart shall see God (Matt. 5:8). If we want heaven to be our eternal home, we must remain pure while on this earth. This isn't limited to those who are unmarried, though. Our world is saturated with sexual sin. Many who are married struggle with pornography addictions, extra-marital affairs, and a host of other things. We must all pray for the strength to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

2: Mary trusted God (v.38) - When the Angel came and told Mary that she was pregnant, despite having never been with a man, her response was this:
"Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word."
Had it been me, I might have fainted, or done as Sarah did in the Old Testament and laughed. At the very least, I may have had a mild emotional breakdown. Not Mary, though. Mary seems excited, and if not, she is at least compliant and accepting. She had no way of knowing how people would react to her. In that day, women who were unfaithful or adulterous could be killed. What would those around her think? She wasn't married, yet she was having a child! Still, Mary had faith. She knew that God had brought this upon her and that He would lead her through it.

In the same way, the Bible tells us that God will not put more on us than we can handle (1 Cor. 10:13). Situations may arise in our lives that will cause others to make fun of us or stop being friends with us or perhaps even persecute us. We must trust that God will get us through it, and say with all confidence "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6).

3: Mary knew her place (46-48a) - After learning she would be the Savior of Earth's mother, Mary sang a song to God. These are her beautiful words:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant. For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed."
Mary said that her soul magnified God. Generally, when something is magnified, something else is minimized. Mary goes on to say "the lowly state of His maidservant". Ah yes, the LORD was magnified and Mary was minimized in her own sight. Truly this a concept we must all implement into our lives. James told us that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (4:6). Surely we all want grace! In order to attain that grace, we must minimize self and magnify God. Mary could have been tempted to think that she was something. After all, the Creator of Heaven and Earth had chosen HER to be the mother of the Christ. That wasn't the way Mary reacted, and that says a lot about her heart--the heart that God found favorable. Our all-knowing Heavenly Father knows every mans heart (Prov. 21:2), and He chose a heart that was meek to be the mother of His Son. To be favorable to God, our hearts must be meek like Mary's.

4: Mary saw the bigger picture (48b) - Mary's song said that all generations would call her blessed. I do not believe this was any kind of prideful statement, but one that indicates her foresight. As previously mentioned, surely Mary would go through some rough moments because of her situation. She could have been mocked by those who knew she wasn't married, or laughed at when she told others that Jesus was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph. We don't know if Mary could fully grasp all that would happen to her son while He was on the earth, but Mary endured a lot--watching Him die, watching Him suffer. Still, she could see the bigger picture. The road that was set before her would be tough, but it was worth it in the long run.

No matter what we go through in this life, it will be worth it in the long run so long as we remain faithful (Rev. 2:10). There is no reason for us to be consumed by the fires this earth sets before us. God sees the bigger picture. Bigger than my short little lifespan. Bigger than ten thousand of my little lifespans. My reward in heaven will be great if I will simply get past all of the "momentary, light affliction" this temporary world has to offer.

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