Mary, The Mother of Our Lord

Bible Book: Luke  1 : 26-38
Subject: Mary; Obedience; Humility
Series: A Christmas Trilogy; The Three Wise Women

A little boy cried out in fear in the middle of the night. His mother sought to assure and comfort him by saying, "God is here with you." The child responded. "Yes, I know, but I want someone with a face!"

The coming of God to the earth in the person of Jesus Christ was God's answer to that little boy's desire. Paul writing in 2 Corinthians 4:6 declared, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." It is so true that when you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you will gain for the first time a true vision of the glory of God. The only way to know God is to know Christ. Jesus died for you on the cross of Calvary to show to you the glory of God through redemption for all who believe. In this season we need to remember that had there been no Bethlehem, there would have been no Calvary, for a spirit cannot be crucified. The Lamb of God had to have a body. In foretelling the birth of Jesus the angel told Joseph that Mary "shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

No small wonder that when Sir Edward Burne-Jones, the great English painter was asked, "Do you still believe the Christmas story?" Without hesitation he replied, "It is too beautiful not to be true."

Just at the right time and just in the right way God acted. Jesus came when Augustus ruled in Rome and Herod in Palestine. He came when civilization had rotted and when it was apparent that the philosophies of men had failed to satisfy. Jesus came when the ritual of the temple had become empty and hollow. He came when the heathen gods were powerless and the oracles were dumb. Prophetically, he came in the fullness of time when the Greek language had provided a means of communication and when the Roman roads had prepared a way of transportation. He came at the earliest possible moment to save the largest number of people and to establish the strongest base for the building of the church. Jesus came. The way He came was so unique as to be a once in history occurrence.

Mary was the most unique mother of all times. She stands apart from all other women in history. In art, music, and literature she has become the embodiment of all that is fine and noble in womanhood. No woman in the entire history of the world has been so honored and revered. The world's most majestic poems, novels, and plays have had Mary and her Son as their central figures. In the most magnificent cathedrals she is depicted on canvass, in stained glass windows, in bronze, marble, and stone. Through the centuries the most triumphant hymns and the best loved carols, lullabies and folks songs have told of her pre-eminence among women.

Yet her greatness had a humble beginning. She was an obscure peasant girl living in Nazareth 20 centuries ago but her story has spread to the ends of the earth. Though her life came to its tragic and glorious climax at the foot of the cross it continues to inspire and uplift millions of people. Though she reared her Son in obscurity and had neither wealth nor acclaim the world has worshipped at her Son's feet down the centuries.

Though Mary never wore fine clothes she is depicted as draped in the most costly of garments. Though she never exalted herself, literature has raised her up to the highest pinnacle of any woman in history. Though she never entered a palace her picture has graced the most magnificent palaces of the world. Though she never traveled any further than from Palestine to Egypt and then by donkey, her story still travels to the furtherest corners to the earth.

We can imagine that as a young girl in Nazareth Mary was more serious and pious than the other girls her age and more given to believing in the wonders and miracles of God. Even in her early years we can know that she had completely surrendered her whole being to the higher will of God.

The story of the virgin birth appears in the Bible in two separate places.

Matthew 1:18-21 tells the story from the point of view of Joseph.

Luke 1:27-34 tells the story from the point of view of Mary. In Luke the angel appears to Mary saying, "Fear not, Mary: for though has found favor with God and, behold, thou shalt conceive in they womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus." Mary's first recorded words bespeak her purity and humility: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" Then the angel said . . . read Luke 1:35. With faithful acceptance of this announcement mary simply responded, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38).

Mary, a virgin, was the mother of God's only Son. We focus now upon the unique and powerful qualities of Mary, the mother of our Lord.

I. Virgin

Here is a truth that was prophesied by Isaiah and fulfilled in the days of the birth of Christ. Isaiah 7:14 says, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

In our modern day with all of our modern ideas of sophistication and skepticism it has been agreed by many that the virgin birth is too hard to swallow. Many have agreed in saying that it never happened.What does the Bible say? Does the Bible teach that Jesus was born of a virgin? The answer is yes! Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament the teaching is quite clear.

The very first promise that God gave of the Gospel concerns the virgin birth. It is found in Genesis 3:15. Speaking to the serpent God said: "I will put inmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This is the first presentation of the Gospel that we have. It was God's first promise that He would send a redeemer and that that redeemer would be the seed of a woman.

Then, of course, Isaiah made a direct prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. It is the same truth that is proclaimed in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Matthew goes out of his way to demonstrate that there was a distinct difference between the way that Christ was born and the birth of all his progenitors. Matthew tells us that Abraham begat, David begat, Jacob begat, on up to the fact that another Jacob finally begat "Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom (feminine) was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (Matthew 1:16). We read that this man begot that man, that that man begot that man, who begot this person. But Joseph did not beget Christ; rather, Joseph was merely the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.

Luke says of Jesus that when He reached 30 years of age, "Being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph...." (Luke 3:23). So both Matthew and Luke go out of their way to make absolutely clear that Jesus was not Joseph's son.

Mary, when she heard the announcement of the angel that she would conceive and bear a son, said, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" The angel responded that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the highest would overshadow her. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that Christ was born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Many theological liberals say that it really doesn't matter: "We don't want to burden the modern mind with such an antiquated idea. It really doesn't make a difference.

Dr. James Kennedy said,

"One day, I decided to consider how much of a difference it does make, and I wrote out the following: If Christ were not born of a virgin....

#1 The New Testament narratives are proved untrue and unreliable

#2 Mary is stained with the sin of unchastity

#3 Jesus was mistake about his paternity

#4 Christ was not born of "the seed of the woman" and is not the fulfillment of the ancient first presentation of the Gospel

#5 Jesus was therefore an illegitimate child

#6 He is consequently then not the God-man or Son of God

#7 He was then a sinner like the rest of us

#8 As a sinner He is not the divine Redeemer

#9 We have then no Savior at all

#10 We are yet in our sins and without forgiveness

#11 We have no hope after death

#12 There is no mediator between God and man

#13 If there is no second person, there is no trinity

#14 Christ should have prayed, "Father, forgive us" not "forgive them

#15 If this miracle is denied then why not deny them all? Where indeed shall we draw the   line?

Does it make any difference? It makes all the difference in this world and in the world and in the world to come. In fact, it totally subverts the entire Christian Gospel and destroys the whole meaning of Jesus Christ as the divine Redeemer. It robs us of all hope of salvation-if Jesus was not virgin born."

Some people say that it never happened because the Gospels of Mark and John say nothing about it and Paul never alludes to the virgin birth in his episitles.

Dr. Harry Rimmer, now deceased, a Presbyterian minister who held doctorates in both theology and science, once had quite an encounter on the floor of the presbytery with a rather radical Presbyterian minister.

A young man being examined for the ministry had proclaimed that he did not believe in the virgin birth. When some of the other ministers began to question him rather severely, an older minister stood up and said that he hoped that they would not make a big point of this because, after all, he said, "I don't believe in the virgin birth either." Some asked, "Why not?" And he said, "Well, that should be obvious. It is only mentioned in two places in the New Testament, in Matthew and in Luke. Mark knows nothing about it. John never mentions it. And in all of his epistles, Paul never says one word about it." Dr. Rimmer rose to his feet and said, "Well, then, just what do you preach for a Gospel?"

"The minister replied, "I preach the Sermon on the Mount. That's all the Gospel anybody needs."

Dr. Rimmer answered that it was not enough for him, and then the man asked, "Why not?" Rimmer said, "Because I don't believe it." That came as something of a bombshell in the midst of the presbytery meeting. "I don't believe that Jesus ever preached the Sermon on the Mount, "Rimmer added. The older man again asked, "Why ever not?" The reply was, "It should be very plain to all. Only Matthew and Luke say anything about the Sermon on the Mount. Mark never says one word about i t- apparently he never  even knew that it had been preached. John never alludes to it at all. And in all of his epistles, Paul never once refers to the Sermon on the Mount. So, obviously, Jesus never preached such a sermon!"

As you can imagine the old man was rather taken aback but indeed why should we believe that Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount when it is only told to us by Matthew and Luke who happened to be the same ones who have told us about the virgin birth.

This argument from silence is most ineffective. For example it is true that Mark never mentions the virgin birth of Christ. It is also true that Mark never mentions the birth of Christ at all. Therefore, obviously Mark didn't believe that Jesus had ever been born at all and in any way.

Paul never mentions the virgin birth though he does refer to the fact that Jesus was "born of a  woman, born under the law." But it is also true that Paul never mentioned any of the miracles of Jesus. So according to this style of argument, Paul believed that Jesus never worked a miracle at all. And since Paul never mentioned them, obviously they never happened. So Jesus never worked any miracles in His lifetime and if that were not enough, we might also say that Paul never mentioned any of the parables of Jesus, so, quite evidently, Christ never preached any and so on and so on goes the illogical argument purported to be pure logic. Which literally makes no sense at all.

Perhaps one of the strongest demonstrations of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ cam through the silent testimony of Mary herself. Mary could have stopped the crucifixion for Jesus was crucified for one reason: He claimed that God was His father but if that were a lie and Jesus were not virgin-born then she could have stepped forward at any time and said, "I will tell you who his father is!" She could have destroyed His whole mission and saved Him from the cross.

There is not a caring mother anywhere in the world, who in order to save her own reputation, would allow her son to be horribly mutilated, crucified on a cross. The reason Mary did not raise any objection is that Jesus was virgin-born, is the divine Son of God, is the Redeemer of all men.

II. Highly Favored

In verse 28 it says that "the angel came in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." This virtue is repeated in the 30th verse where the angel declared that Mary had "found favor with God." The word favor might also be translated grace.

The words tell us much about the very life of Mary and the quality of her spiritual devotion. This young teenage girl should be an inspiration to every teenage girl we know. She lived her life with such purity, humility and obedience that when God had the greatest responsibility to be performed by a human life upon the earth He called upon her to fulfill and complete His will. How the eyes of God had moved to and fro throughout the whole earth to find just that right maiden through whom He would fulfill His mission. I am reminded of that strong verse in the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles 16:9 which says, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." Apparently the heart of Mary was perfect toward the Lord as a result He showed Himself strong through her.

Years to come would prove the strength of God's choice. How beautiful was the obedience of Mary when having misplaced her son and finding Him in the temple discussing theology with the doctors of law seemed to begin to understand the mission of Christ as beyond even her thoughts and expectations when He said, "Know ye not that I must be about my Father's business."Mary watched over her Son with loving care as He grew, feeding Him, clothing Him, and leading Him gently. Guided by her, He grew in knowledge of the Spirit until He came to love God's house above all others. It was in the midst of this spiritual venture of rearing her Son that Mary and Joseph, having misplaced Jesus, found Him in the temple and after the incident like the refrain of an old song begun upon the occasion of the birth of Christ, we hear again the words: "His mother kept all these sayings in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

Joseph disappears from the narrative at this moment and Mary is depicted alone from this time forward. It is probable that Joseph died about this time though we have no record of this fact.

We see Mary again in John 2 at the marriage at Cana in Galilee. This was her Son's farewell to his private life and beginning of His public ministry. Mary was probably around 50 years of age. Her cousin Elisabeth's son, John the Baptist, had already gathered about him a group of disciples and had predicted that Jesus was the Messiah.

When Mary saw that the wine was giving out at the feast, she said to her Son, "They have no wine" (John 2:3). For the first time He answered her, not as her Son but as the Messiah, calling her "woman" and saying, "What have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come" (John 2:4). Though He expressed His complete subordination to the will of God this must have been a trying test of Mary's faith but she remained submissive, patient, and trustful. She would remain so even when her Son was crucified and laid in the tomb. Thinking not of herself but of Him. She now experienced a new sense of exaltation when she saw that wine filled the empty jars. What a great thing for a mother to witness, the first of her Son's miracles!

From now on Mary remained in the background. Our next brief glimpse of her came when she and His brothers visited Him as the multitudes sat around him (Mark 3:31-35; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 19: 19-21). Again he dismissed His personal relationship to His mother saying, "Who is my mother, or my brethen?" Further explaining, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and my mother" (Mark 3:35). Mary was understanding, no doubt , that for those who live the life of the spirit the human family bond is transcended by a greater love.

Next we see Mary at the foot of the cross. Such loneliness. Such heartache. Such brokenness of spirit she must have felt as the mother of our Lord. Her endurance and strength shown in that moment has been a comfort and a challenge to endurance to many who have suffered a great loss.

Mary's silent endurance of what she could not change is the great lesson that she has given to the world at the foot of the cross.

The tenderness and love that Jesus felt for Mary is beautifully expressed while hanging upon the cross He looked at her and said, "Woman, behold thy son!" And turning to John His disciple He said, "Behold thy mother!" John 19:26-27 explains that from that very hour John took her to his own home.

Mary appears after the resurrection. Learning that her Son had arisen from the dead, she had new confidence in her own mission as a believer. We sense that her consciousness was not so much of her own mother hood as it was of the divine Sonship of Christ.

The last mention of Mary is when she was gathered with the believers after the ascension. She was praying with the apostles in the upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14). She was part of that early church that went everywhere preaching and teaching the Good News about Jesus. Her heart joined the other believers as they prayed and as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. We have no record of the time or the manner of her death.

III. An Instrument

I think one of the strongest statements from the life of Mary that we receive through God 's Word is that she was willing to be an instrument of God. It takes a great deal of humility and obedience of spirit to allow oneself to be used as an instrument. In verse 38 of our text Mary said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Mary was saying just as straight-forward as she knew how: Do with me whatever you will."

"I am yours, Lord."


If every Christian today could have this attitude of humility before God, of willingness to be used by Him in whatever way He chooses, then truly our world would be greatly blessed with the propagation of the Gospel as it has never experienced it before. Are you willing to be an instrument of God? Would you allow God to use you according to His will and plan.