As we continue our study of the Gospel According to Luke, I want to focus our attention on the person of Mary. Of all the women of Judah, she was chosen by God to become the mother of the Messiah, the King and Redeemer of Israel.
Gabriel said she was selected because she had “found favor with God.” What was it about Mary that caught the Lord’s attention. What qualities did she possess which “found favor with God?”
I can’t speak for God on that point but I do notice from this passage some noteworthy traits Mary possessed that impress me. I want to briefly point-out six traits that belonged to Mary...and most of them should be our traits, too.
1. She was a person with faith.
When the priest Zacharias was told that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son in their old age, Zacharias doubted the news. However, after being told that she would give birth to the Messiah, Mary did not doubt it in the least. She only inquired as to how God would perform this since she was still a virgin - Verse 34, “And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’"
2. She willingly surrendered her life to God’s will.
Mary did not take thought of the difficulties and inconveniences that would come her way as she would be with Child out of wedlock and then giving birth to the Messiah. Being already engaged to Joseph, I’m sure that she already had her own dreams, goals and wishes for her own life. But, Mary was willing to lay aside what she willed for her life to surrender to what God had planned for her life - Verse 38, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.’”
The next set of traits are revealed in Mary’s declaration of praise in the home of Elizabeth, recorded in Verses 46-55.
Unlike the utterances of Elizabeth and Zacharias, the Scriptures do not indicate that Mary’s declaration of praise was the product of the Holy Spirit. In other words, what Mary said came from her own heart. They give us insight to inner character. They give us an inkling of the reason why God held her in such high favor.
3. She possessed reverence and adoration for God.
Her words overflow with reverence and adoration or loving worship for God. God’s name was precious and sacred - “the Mighty One….holy is His name.”
4. She knew the Scriptures.
Now we come to a characteristic that may explain why Mary possessed faith, godly reverance and a willingness to surrender herself to the Lord - Mary knew the Scriptures.
Not only did she know of the promises made to the Jewish “fathers” or Patriarchs (verse 55), but she actually quotes word-for-word two Scriptures from Psalms 103 & 107. Obviously, the Word of God was valued by Mary and it was meaningful to her. She memorized portions of the Scriptures which, no doubt, shaped her inward and outward life.
5. She possessed great Intelligence and Insight.
Apart from the effects on her own life, Mary had tremendous understanding of the ‘big picture’. That is, by God choosing to bring the Messiah into the world by way of a poor, obscure Jewish girl from the back-water town of Nazareth as opposed to having the Messiah be born to a powerful, wealthy and prominent family in Jerusalem or some other major Jewish city, God will have “scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.”
By bringing forth the Messiah, the true heir to the throne of David, while the Herods claimed to be the Jewish kings, God was bringing “down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.”
And, lastly, she had the insight to know that her Son would bring good things for those who hungered rather than for those who considered themselves already full and rich - Verse 53, “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; AND SENT AWAY THE RICH Empty-handed.”
6. She recognized her own need for salvation.
There is a denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches that Mary was born sinless. However, Mary knew otherwise. She knew her need for salvation and referred to, in verse 47, “God [as] my Savior.”
Of course, Mary’s Child is the Savior of the world. As Jesus said, in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." But can you speak of Jesus as ‘my Savior’?
You cannot unless you have believed in the Gospel message.
You cannot unless you have made the decision that you want to repent; that is, surrender your life to the will of the Lord.
You cannot unless you have verbally made your confession that you believe Jesus to be the Son of the living God.
You cannot unless you have been buried with Christ, immersed in His death, in the waters of baptism and raised-up out of that water with spiritual newness of life.
If you have taken all of these steps, the Word of God states that we can refer to Jesus the Lord as our personal Savior. Praise the Lord.