Summary: Spiritual attidues we can learn form the life of Mary.
“Attitudes for a Wonderful Life”
December 18, 2005
Intro: Today we are going to look at the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus to see if there are some lessons we can learn about her life and her attitude toward God to translate over to ours. Most of us have seen over and over again the story of George Bailey played by Jimmy Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” George is always seeking more adventure, more fame, more money and an escape from Bedford Falls. For so many of us, that is our story. We always desire more, but circumstances keep us from achieving it.
Today, I want to take you into the first century mind of a teenage girl. Mary was, by all accounts, a very normal girl of her day. She was promised to be married, as was the custom of her day, to a man named Joseph. She seemingly from all scripture accounts was a young lady who sought after God, but who did not earn God’s favor but was bestowed it. Today we want to see if there are some things that we can learn from Mary that will help us understand our own walk with God and to find satisfaction in our own version of this wonderful life.
First, let’s start with a little background.
Mary is from Nazareth.
Nazareth is a town in Galilee. Nothing exceptional comes from there. It is a town of about 1,500 people and in most instances was regarded as a place to be avoided. In fact, scripture gives us an indication of how this town was viewed by the citizens of the day.
"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.” John 1:46 (NIV)
This is a statement by one of the first followers of Christ on being told the Messiah had been found. There was nothing in Mary’s culture that set her apart.
Mary was s virgin, which explains her surprise when told she is going to have a baby.
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" Luke 1:34 (NIV)
A lot has changed since Mary’s day, but biology is still biology!!! Mary was, more than likely, between 12-14 years old. This was the time that Jewish girls were promised in marriage.
Mary was told that she was, “highly favored of God.”
“The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28 (NIV)
The term used here means that there was nothing special about Mary, but it were only an act of God’s divine will and divine plan that placed her in this position to be used of God for the fulfillment of his plans for humanity. There is only one other time in the New Testament hat this term is used and it is in Ephesians 1:6 as Paul writes of God’s view of the Ephesian Christians.
“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Ephesians 1:6 (NIV)
The point here is that Mary does not receive God’s grace because of her character, but because God chose to display it to her.
With that as a background, let’s see if we can find some common ground between us and Mary that will help us have a better perspective of this life.
I. A Wonderful Life is characterized by a Humble Heart.
Mary doesn’t get what is going on. She does not understand how she could be pregnant since she is a virgin or how the child she is carrying could be the Messiah. She doesn’t fully understand as her question in verse 34 points out.
Can you imagine the thoughts running through the mind of a 12 year old who, having lived a sexually pure life finds herself pregnant? Even in our culture, a pregnant teenager is no cause for rejoicing.
But, Mary does not allow her lack of understanding to cause her to doubt God.
In Her response to the angel, she acknowledges God’s right to use her as he desires.
"I am the Lord’s servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38 (NIV)
In her song of praise to God, she acknowledges that nothing about her should make God choose her.
“And Mary said: "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 (NIV)
What Mary is acknowledging is that God’s grace is her strength.
“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.”