Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Today's lesson is all about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She is an iconic woman, famous to those who worship Jesus and to those who do not.  In fact, some people groups and denominations actually pray to and worship Mary.  This is completely against the Word of God.  We are to have no other gods before the great God Jehovah (Exodus 20:3). Mary is not a god, but she was chosen by God to be the earthly mother of His Son.

I love seeing the details of Mary's story.  She was an ordinary woman, asked to do an extraordinary thing.

Mary's story is found throughout the gospels.  We are going to focus on Luke 1:26-38, 46-55, 2:1-7, 22-52, and John 19:25-27.

Luke 1:26-38, 46-55

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Up until this point in Mary's life, she did not know that she was chosen by God.  Mary was perplexed to see an angel and to hear him call her "favored one."  She was a simple girl, living her life.  She did not know that she was favored by God.  The angel recognized that Mary was afraid, as are most of the people in Scripture who come across an angel.  He clarified his greeting to her and told her that she was favored because of God.  What an amazing thing to learn about yourself!

The message from the angel was very full:
  1. You will conceive.
  2. You will give birth to a Son.
  3. You will name Him Jesus.
  4. He will be great.
  5. He will be the Son of the Most High.
  6. The Lord will give Him David's throne.
  7. He will reign forever over Israel.
  8. His kingdom will have no end.

Of all of this information, Mary got stuck on the very first point.  I'm sure I would, too!  Mary knew the Scripture (we will see that later), so she knew Messiah was coming.  But, she didn't know until this point that she would be the one to carry Him in her womb.

Verse 35 gives us a representation of the holy trinity - Holy Spirit, Most High, Son of God.

In verse 38, Mary is saying that she is all in to doing the Lord's will.  Praise be to God.  Are you all in?  The Lord is not going to ask us to carry His Son, but He may ask us to do things that are way out of our comfort zones.  We have to trust God that His plan is the best plan, just as Mary trusted God with this plan.

The next section of Scripture that we are going to read is Mary's prayer.  This is a wonderful piece of Scripture where Mary quotes from lots of Old Testament verses.  I am going to show you each time that Mary quotes the Old Testament.

Luke 1:46-55

46 And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,

Psalm 34:2-3
My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Psalm 35:9
And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall exult in His salvation.

Habakkuk 3:18
Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

Psalm 138:6
For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly.

49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.

50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.

Psalm 103:17
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.

51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

Psalm 98:1
O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.

52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.

Job 5:11
So that He sets on high those that are lowly.

53 “He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Psalm 107:9
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what was good.

54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Genesis 17:9
God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations."

What an amazing testimony to Mary.  She knew her Bible so well that she could quote it as her prayer of praise to the Lord.  Oh how I wish I could quote the Scripture like Mary did here.  She was a wonderful person, full of the Lord.  God knew that He would choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, and He prepared her life for that very thing.

Luke 2:1-52

1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Mary and Joseph made the 40 mile journey from Galilee to Bethlehem when Jesus was about to be born.  We see the manger scenes all the time at Christmas - people display beautiful nativities in their homes, in front of their homes, in front of business, etc.  All of those manger scenes depict Mary and Joseph all alone in the stable.  I would venture to say that they probably were not alone when Jesus was born.  If the inn was full, a lot of people had to travel to Bethlehem at this time.  More likely than not, there were others who had to stay in the barn with Mary and Joseph.  I would also venture to say that Mary had a midwife there to help her deliver her baby.

When the shepherds told the people what the angels said, "all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them."  This implies that there were many people there that night.  "But Mary" - lowly, humble Mary.  She didn't discuss it with anyone, but stayed quiet to herself.

22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to offer the sacrifice that was required of them at that time.  They offered a sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.  Look at what Leviticus 12:6-8 says.

‘When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

Mary and Joseph were not rich.  They were poor and humble.  They could not afford the sacrifice of a one year old lamb and pigeon or turtle dove.  But God wants an offering from our heart, not our checkbooks.  So in their humbleness, they offered two turtle doves or two pigeons.

Simeon identified baby Jesus as the Savior of the world depicted in Isaiah 9:2 and 42:6.  Mary and Joseph were amazed by this.  Anna also recognized Jesus as Messiah.  She knew that this was from God, a message too important to keep quiet.  Maybe it was all starting to make sense to them (the shepherds, the angels, Simeon, Anna). Or maybe they had not quite grasped it, yet.

41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Can we just stop and appreciate the fact that Mary and Joseph did not realize that Jesus was missing for a whole day?  This cracks me up - they were as human as you and I are.  They thought Jesus was with other people on the caravan, and they did not bother to check.  I wonder if Mary raised Jesus different from her other children because she knew He was God?

Three days later, they found Jesus in the temple.  Mother Mary was a nervous mother, looking for her Son.  But, "they did not understand."  I wonder if Mary lived her whole life trying to understand about her Son being God?  One of the biggest aspects of motherhood is disciplining our children.  It is our responsibility to make sure that our children learn right from wrong, and that they act accordingly.  Mary did not have to teach Jesus right from wrong, as He was God.  God wrote the law of the Old Testament to show people how they sinned.  God sent Jesus to be the payment for our sins.  Jesus knew no sin and became sin for us so that we could become righteous as He is righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

John 19:25-27

25 Therefore the soldiers did these things.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

In Jesus' death on the cross, His mother was by His side.  I wonder if Jesus explained His death and resurrection to her as He did His disciples?  As Mary always treasured things in her heart, I wonder if this was one of those things?

In all things (impossible or not), Mary served the Lord.  She was very knowledgeable about the Scriptures, she was humble and meek, she took time to think things through, and she was God's chosen servant.

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