THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST: WHY WAS MARY CHOSEN AS DIVINE INSTRUMENT?
TEXT: LUKE 1 – 2
- A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF MARY
Mary was a young woman in a town called Nazareth, in the hills of Galilee. She came from a poor, but honorable family. Her family were descendants of Israel's greatest king, David. Her genealogy is given in Luke 3. She was of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David (Psalm 132:11; Luke 1:32). As a Jewish woman, she had been carefully trained in the Scriptures and knew great portions of them by heart. She knew that God had promised to send the Messiah, One who would rescue her people Israel and be their King. For four hundred years, God had been silent. No new Scripture was written; no prophets had spoken.
Every Jewish girl prayed to be the mother of this Messiah. Mary loved God and wanted to serve Him with all of her heart. But she was just a poor girl in an insignificant town, from a humble family, with no great expectations that her life was going to be any different from her mother's or from that of the other women in her town. In her day, a girl was betrothed when she reached puberty and it usually was a year before she was married. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. They would be married within a year and she was spending this last year in her home learning how to be a good Jewish wife and mother. Joseph was a carpenter.
- BIRTH OF JESUS FORTOLD
In Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the Angel Gabriel. [There are only two angels named in Scripture: Gabriel and Michael]. He sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The Angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the Angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luk 1.30-33)
When the Angel began to speak, she was terrified, as we all would have been. He quickly calmed her fears, and in a few short sentences revealed her future. She, Mary, was to be the mother of the Messiah! He would be the Son of God, the Son of David, ruling an eternal kingdom from David's throne. All of the promises of the Old Testament concerning this coming One were mentioned in the Angel’s words. His name would be “Jesus.”
- WHY WAS MARY CHOSEN AS DIVINE INSTRUMENT?
- Her purity and her innocence are clearly revealed in her next words. Notice what she said (v. 34): "How will this be," Mary asked the Angel, "since I am a virgin?" I think this is one of the strongest evidences for Mary’s virginity, because I think if she weren’t a virgin, she would be terrified to lie to an Angel. Imagine saying to an Angel, “I’m a virgin,” when she knew she really was not. And this, from her own mouth comes the evidence, “I’m a virgin. I’m not married! I’ve not had any sexual relationship! How can this be?”
- She believed that God was able to do what He said He would do: She was not doubting it, like Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth did. What she was asking for was the method: how? The Angel's answer had to stretch her faith, because it was certainly something she could not have understood. Look what he says in v. 35-37: The Angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." It did not matter if she could understand it. We get great insight into Mary's heart and character from her response to this revelation. Look at v. 38. If you ever want to know exactly what Mary, the mother of Jesus, was, this verse will tell you. "‘I am the Lord's servant…. May it be to me as you have said.’”
- She was humble: The word “servant” in Luke 1:38 may be described as the lowest form of servanthood. This is a bond slave.” She says, “I am the Lord’s slave. Let it be to me as you have said.” What do we see here about her attitude? Humility? Total submission to the will of God! This did not just happen at this moment. All of a sudden the Angel comes and tells her this and she says, “Oh yeah, well, I’m the Lord’s ….” No, this was the pattern of her life. This was a remarkable young woman who was willing to serve God.
- Mary had faith and a deep spiritual understanding (Luk 1:46-55): This was revealed in her response to Elizabeth’s comments about Jesus. Her relative Elizabeth was pregnant, six months, and was going to have a child in her old age! At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea [She’s probably made a trip of about eighty miles], where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luk 1:41- 45). Elizabeth knew without her telling. God used Elizabeth to confirm to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God. God also commended her faith. "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished!" The Angel had said, "Nothing is impossible with God," and she had simply believed what the Angel said. She simply believed that what God said He would do, He could do, and that is a perfect definition of faith. That is as simple as we need to be for faith!
- Mary knew God’s character and had great knowledge of God’s Word (Luke 1:46-55): Mary's heart responds, and her mouth is filled with praise for God in form of a hymn of praise. It is both poetry and prophecy. It reveals she also knew God’s character. The only way you can know God’s character is to be saturated with God’s Word. This young woman did not have 15 translations of the Bible. Every Jewish child was taught God’s Word as soon as he or she was able to speak, and they memorized it. It was rote memory, i.e. mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned. Mary knew God’s Word, a feat that was remarkable especially since only boys were allowed to attend the synagogue schools.
- Mary knew that she was a sinner and needed a Saviour so that her sins could be forgiven: It is important to note that wrong ideas have been perpetuated about Mary as being sinless and immaculate. However, Mary knew something about herself. What was it? It’s in v. 47. She said, “…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior …." Why would Mary need a Savior? Because she was just like each of us. She was born from Adam. She was a sinner just as each of us is. Mary knew she was a sinner and needed a Savior so that her sins could be forgiven. It is most unfortunate that in the effort to exalt Mary beyond what Scripture has done—and remember, Scripture calls her “blessed among women”—that in an effort to exalt her beyond that, that she has been declared to be sinless. Mary would be the first to deny this. She knew she needed a Savior. And now God was giving her the unique privilege of being the means by which this Savior, His Own Son, would come into the world.
VII. Mary was faithful to her task –to the end: At the end of Jesus’ life, we see Mary standing by the cross looking up at her first son being killed! (John 19.25-27) Maybe she then understood fully the prophecy that “a sword will pierce even your own soul…” (Luk 2.35) that Simeon the prophet gave as he held Jesus in his arms talking to the parents at the temple in Jerusalem (Luk 2.25-35). She was being told that heartache was ahead but being courageous and brave, she continued to the end. She continued with the disciples of Jesus and was seen waiting for the kingdom with others in Acts 1.14.
The story of Mary is a veritable tool for Christians to learn humility, faith, trust and full knowledge of the word of God. Her life should be a lesson to all of us and teach us that we can be of great use to God, even greater than we ever thought, if we are ready to believe, obey and respect Him. Anyone, no matter how high or low could be of great use to the Almighty! All that is needed is an attitude like Mary’s that is revealed in her statement to the Angel, “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luk 1.38b) Mary decided to submit to God regardless of the consequences or the questions it would raise about her morality, the risk of losing the man she loved, even her own life if people believed she committed sexual immorality. May all our women both young and aged imbibe these qualities of Mary and be faithful instruments of God’s grace. Amen.
“Women of the Bible: Mary, Most Blessed of Women”
“Why God Chose Mary,” (The Life of Christ, 2, Truth for Today, 2001, 11-15)