Summary: When we look back at the life of Mary I see 2 extreme points of view that have surfaced. 1. Many believers have chosen to worship Mary. 2. Others have chosen to completely ignore Mary. The scripture does not support either approach.
Most of us recognize that Christmas can actually be one of the most stressful times of the year. For pastors and their families things do not usually slow down—instead things just get busier. For many in the church and community there are those feeling of loneliness. There is the experience of grief for some of you and we can develop a bad case of the Christmas blues. All of this at a time when we sing songs like Joy to the world and use phrases like peace on earth. For many, Christmas can still be a very stressful time.
When I look in the scripture I cannot imagine anyone more stressed about the first Christmas than Mary. The Virgin Mary received one of the greatest surprises in history; a surprise that turned her world upside down. When we look back at the life of Mary I see 2 extreme points of view that have surfaced.
1. Many believers have chosen to worship Mary.
2. Others have chosen to completely ignore Mary.
The scripture does not support either approach. Let me begin this morning by giving you a quick list of the facts that we know about Mary.
1. Her father was Eli. 2. Mary had a cousin named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. This means John and Jesus were cousins. 3. Mary was very young. Some Bible scholars say she could have been as young as 14. 4. She was poor. 5. She was a strong woman of faith and was full of God’s grace. 6. She was promised to Joseph. 7. She was a virgin.
Now these are basically the facts that we know about Mary. And it is perhaps all we need to know because Christmas is not about Mary; Christmas is about Jesus. With that said there are some powerful truths we can gain/see in the life of Mary. She was chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb. Look at these things with me.
1. God often chooses to use those that the world would reject. Vv. 26-28. When the story opens, Mary has been pledged to Joseph. It is at this point that God steps down out of heaven into human history. He is about to invite a woman who is relatively unknown to the world to give birth to the very son of God. He does this through an angel named Gabriel. Some would have discounted Mary because she was so young. She was from a poor family and it is likely she was not able to read due to her limited resources.
In some churches today Mary is place in a superior place of honor. The National shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe is in Orlando. There you can see an 8 ft. marble statue of Mary. Now look at v. 28. A phrase commonly used in some churches is the phrase, Hail Mary full of grace. It makes Mary an object of worship and according to those churches it is based on v. 28. However this verse never uses that phrase. So I want to speak to that a bit further.
Mary was a godly woman who is worthy of being honored. She was chosen to bear the Son of God. The Bible says she was highly favored but Mary was not a mediator between God and man. Paul himself tells us “there is but one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1st Timothy 2:5.
Here is one way to look at this—if you’re sick and you go to the doctor and there are two doors you could walk through when you get there…two options. On one door it says “doctor’s office” and on the other door is says, “Mother of the doctor.” Which one do you want to walk through? No disrespect to her but I want to see the Great Physician in person. I don’t want to talk to his mother.
2. God promises an answer to Man’s sin problem. Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14. Vv.29-38. Mary had no idea what to make of this. What do you do when a complete stranger comes up to you and says this is your lucky day; you have been chosen for a special blessing. How do you respond to that? But Mary stopped … she pauses to consider what all of this means. In v. 30-34 the angel says….
Every Jew at that time would have been well aware of the prophecy of the coming of Jesus. The arrival of the Savior was long anticipated. Mary, however would have been the last to imagine that God’s purpose would be fulfilled through her. 700 years before the birth of Jesus the prophet Isaiah said, “therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” Those are amazing words. The virgin shall conceive. Impossible. But that’s what the text says. The Bible clearly teaches the virgin birth and belief in the virgin birth is essential to the sinless nature of Jesus Christ.