Tonight I had the opportunity to discuss this with friends at our local Titus24U group. I'm excited to share this lesson with you and look forward to hearing your thoughts. In these days leading up to Christmas I encourage you to open the Word and learn a bit more about the woman who brought Jesus into the world.
So to begin a few questions to get you thinking - What comes to mind when you think of Mary? How would you describe her? What can we learn about God through her? How can we apply her story to our life?
Let's begin our study by reading Luke 1:26-38. Here Mary is visited by an angel. The girl is betrothed to be married; this is not a casual agreement, but a promise to Joseph. Many commentators believe she was 15 or 16 years old, but as we will see, even if she was young, she was spiritually mature. As you read these verses think about these questions -
What did the angel tell her?
How did Mary respond?
What trait in Mary would you like to exhibit?
Friend, it's interesting to back up and read the previous conversation between Zechariah and the angel. The news is similar, but the response varies. Mary and Zechariah are both distressed, told not to be afraid and are promised a son, but that's where the similarities end. The dad to be asks a question and hesitates while Mary receives the news and believes. How do you respond when faced with unexpected news or direction?
Before leaving this conversation, a quick point I found interesting...in verse 36, the angel tells Mary of Elizabeth's pregnancy. God didn't just send a promise to His favored one, but also provided evidence of His power. Friend, we may not have an angel bringing us news, but when we get God's direction, may we look to His Word and remember the countless examples of His power!
As we continue our walk through the Word, lets read Luke 1:39-45. What catches your attention here? What do Elizabeth's words tell us about Mary? More importantly what do they tell us about God and Jesus?
Perhaps one of the most important lessons we can learn from this short passage is another powerful example of humility. Elizabeth is human, just like you and me, but yet she didn't let jealousy take over or envious thoughts enter her mind...she recognized the presence of the Lord and knew her right position. May you and I do the same!!
As we move forward, we hear from Mary herself. Read Luke 1:46-56. Here we read what has come to be known as "Mary's Song" or "The Magnificat." Mary clearly knew the Old Testament as she draws on words from Scripture to offer praise to God.
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. What similarities do you notice between Mary's words and Hannah's prayer?
Use the following cross references to get a better understanding of Mary's knowledge of scripture. Note what you learn about the character and power of God in these verses.
Luke 1:47-48 – 1 Samuel 1:11
Luke 1:49 – Psalm 111:9
Luke 1:50 – Psalm 103:13,17
Luke 1:51 – Psalm 89:10
Luke 1:52- Job 12:19
Luke 1:53 – Psalm 107:9
Luke 1:54 – Psalm 98:3, Isaiah 41:8Luke 1:55 – Genesis 17:7
Friend, these words from Mary express her emotion and experience. From her meditation, we see she had words from the Old Testament hidden in her heart. Her praise to God before the promise even comes true is a powerful remedy to pride; may we remember this and practice it in the future!
To close, I encourage you to pause for a minute and think about Mary. She is a woman who set an example worthy for us as women to follow. She brought Jesus into this world and friend, you and I still shine His light. We can do that better if we model some of the characteristics we see in Mary.
She was a woman who seems to have thought more than she spoke. (Luke 1:29, 2:19, 2:51) She was a woman of faith - she didn't doubt, she didn't laugh and she didn't ask for a sign - she believed. She was submissive, even when it involved risk. Teenage pregnancy had consequences, but she trusted God's plan and offered to serve Him in the greatest way. She was familiar with Scripture and close to God. Finally, she was a woman of humility...she didn't argue with the angel, but accepted God's call. She admitted her position and knew she was a recipient of God's grace before she was ever a giver of it. She was secure in her identity as a child of the most high God.
There were things Mary didn't know as she held Jesus in her arms, but there was plenty she understood as she started the journey with Him. The same is true for us. Wherever we are on our walk of faith, there are questions we can't yet answer, but friend there are promises we can cling to and truths we can stand on. This Christmas, may we follow Mary's lead and humble ourselves so that the Holy Spirit can shine through us and do what He knows needs to be done!!
Dear Heavenly Father, You are the Mighty One. You have the power to do the impossible. Thank you for Mary's example and help me too be one who believes. Help me to meditate on your Word and cling to your Truth. Equip me to trust and obey. Tender my heart so that I hear your voice and walk in your ways. I echo Mary's words and say, my soul glorifies you and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. As Christmas nears, help me abide in your Word and enjoy your presence. Mary physically brought Jesus into the world and through my words, actions and life may I spiritually do the same. In Jesus' Name, Amen.