We continue The Women series today as we meet a familiar character in her story of believing God for the impossible. Our prayer is that many will be touched by going deeper into God’s word to study women from scripture. Please continue to join us each week for this series by checking the blog. Follow by email so you can receive updates to your inbox!
The Women: Mary
Mother of Jesus
Written by, Janette McLaughlin
Read Mary’s story in the following sections of scripture:
Many of us have some ideas about Mary the mother of Jesus. These familiar passages from the Bible have been read perennially throughout the centuries. But as I spent some time getting to know Mary, some of my preconceived ideas became like shattered stained glass images in my mind about this timeless saint. Because while we are not to pray to Mary, we are to praise God for her story and how she teaches us what it means to be a servant of God.
Surprisingly, what I learned from studying Mary is that God isn’t looking for perfect when he chooses a servant. He is not concerned with your list of accomplishments and he doesn’t need your plans—he’s got it all covered. His plan for your life and for humanity is far greater than we could ever imagine.
That is perhaps the most beautiful thing about Mary’s story…God looked into her humble heart and filled her with his power and grace to accomplish what only God can do! He is looking at your heart, and he wants us to be women who are after his heart. We see in Mary how a yielded heart is more pleasing to the him than anything we can do.
I believe that God wants us to look into the heart of Mary and find ourselves as willing vessels. We are each at different places in our stories, and the pages are messy…our plot is unfinished, maybe not what we would have written for ourselves…but we can trust the Author of our stories is also the Finisher of our faith. So we can say “Yes! And Amen!” to all of God’s promises and plans.
In the early pages of Luke, the scene is set as God sends his angel, Gabriel, to deliver a great message to a young virgin named Mary, who is betrothed to a man named Joseph, a decedent of King David. Upon seeing the angel, Mary is dumbstruck. I imagine her going about her daily routine, maybe she’s hanging up the wash or kneading bread at her table. Suddenly an angel is standing before her!
One translation paints it like this, “Mary was greatly troubled and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” This supernatural encounter has just interrupted any semblance of normal in Mary’s day. Here she is going about her business when God breaks through the mundane with a message of grace. Grace, “unmerited favor”. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.”
Mary hears the most amazing announcement ever made, that she is going to give birth to the Savior of the world! She considers the angel’s words. Try to imagine what she might have been thinking: Favored woman? Give birth to a son? Throne of David? A kingdom that never ends?…She is already anticipating the unexplainable, even the miraculous. But she asks the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Mary’s faith is put to the test. Knowing that she has never been with a man, she must accept the word of God from an angel. She must lay fearaside and expect that God will bring about an impossible thing. She is ready to believe that God will establish his kingdom on earth—God can do anything! But as for her, she knows that she is just Mary.
I read from Streams in the Desert on June 26 about the significance of our belief:
“Unbelief continually asks, “How can this be possible?” it is always full of “how’s,” yet faith needs only one great answer to even ten thousand how’s. That answer is—GOD!” –C.H.M.
Mary is pure of heart, humble, and ready to be available to God. Although Mary cannot foresee the extent of what is to come, she willingly gives up her own plans. In faith, Mary considers herself the Lord’s handmaiden, translated “bond slave.” She bears the joy and the cost of obeying God when she agrees, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
In the moment of surrender, we give holy permission for God to come into our lives and have his way. In her book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp declares, “Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” Eucharisteo, “give thanks.” It is our gratitude for the grace of God in this moment.
Mary does not keep the miracle to herself. She proclaims God’s grace by sharing her joy with her cousin, who has also experienced the miraculous—Elizabeth, who was barren and has become pregnant in her old age!. In so doing, the two women are blessed when the Holy Spirit confirms God’s favor upon them both. Elizabeth exclaims to Mary, “…You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said!”
Women, do we rejoice with one another in the calling God has put on our lives? Here we see two women of God encouraging one another in their most holy faith. When we rejoice together we build each other up to become the fullness of who God calls us to be. We become like Mary and Elizabeth, full of anticipation in seeing what God will do, pregnant with expectation that with God all things are possible!
Mary knew God’s word and she trusted that he would carry it out. She believed despite the overwhelming difficulties she would face for choosing to obey God. She surrendered to God’s plan and praised him! This became her song: “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name!”
Mary’s song is a declaration of God’s faithful love for his people. She believed that he was fulfilling his word. She believed the deliverer had come. She believed that his inheritance was for all people. She was blessed because she believed that God would do exactly what he said.
Later, we peer into the scene of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, where Mary and Joseph have come for the government census. We know the story… There is no vacancy for them to stay overnight, and Mary is in labor. She has traveled miles from home on the back of a donkey, and the only shelter is a cattle stall. …Ladies, she has no doctor and no birth plan! But it is here, in this dusty little town, that God’s own Son is born into a waiting world.
“We can depend on God to fulfill His promise, even when all the roads leading to it are closed. ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God’ [2 Cor 1:20].” –Matthew Henry
If you would like to participate more with this series on the women of the Bible, click here to purchase your copy of The Women: Part One. A Look at the Lives of Five Women of the Scripture, or visit www.lindaosborne.net.