What can we learn from the Bible about Mary, mother of the Lord Jesus?

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2016. 2 pages.

Mary: Mother of My Lord

“Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” There is a unique drama to Mary’s introduction in the gospel of Luke, and we tend to miss the relevance of her story to our own lives as believers. How can it apply to us? One way is this: like Mary, we must submit to God’s revelation of His plan to use us in His kingdom.

To believe God’s revelation, we must rightly understand God’s character. God is no man, whose plans for us depend upon our cooperation. He is God, whose word reveals truths that may startle us and defy our ability to understand. He brings His every word to pass. The angel’s explanation for his improbable predictions regarding Mary and Elisabeth focuses on God, not the mysterious mechanics: “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). That the divine Son of God became the Son of Man in the womb of a virgin is incomprehensible to us, but we must acquiesce to this truth as Mary did.

As we rightly estimate God’s character, we are able to trustingly submit to His plan. Apart from God’s revelation, none of us could imagine              sinners as we are bringing glory to Him. When Mary was told of her role as Jesus’ virgin mother, she was both troubled and confused; yet she responded, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). We may feel detached from the story because of our inadequacy, sin, and shame, questioning whether we can be of use to God. His resounding, reiterated response throughout Scripture is that we can because He wills it (1 Cor. 1:27-28).

To obey God’s revealed will, we must ponder and internalize it. Mary journeyed to her cousin Elisabeth “with haste” (Luke 1:39) to process and rejoice in God’s revelation. We too must reflect on the revealed plan of God’s Word as we prepare to obey it. To fail to give our time and attention to God’s will is to ignore and run from it. If it is less important or less real to us than our own life plans, we must eventually confront our idolatry and be pulled back from it in painful ways (Prov. 16:9; 19:21). The history of Jonah strikingly illustrates this truth. Let us consider what God’s revealed will for us is.

First, we are called to vocally praise God. Ephesians 1 reiterates twice that we are predestinated to the praise of the glory of His grace. Like Mary in her famous song, we are to praise Him for saving us (Luke 1:46-47). We are to praise Him for His care in our lives (Luke 1:48-49). We are to praise Him for showing kindness, especially to His church (Luke 1:52-54). We are to praise Him for fulfilling His Word (Luke 1:55). All of this praise directly flows from our reflection on His will.

We are also called to praise God in our fruit-bearing (Eph. 2:10). In John 15, Jesus teaches that we are to abide in Him that we bear much fruit. As women, we are often called to bear the literal fruit of our wombs (Ps. 128:3). Mary was called to do this in a most amazing way, and with a most wondrous offspring; yet each child born to believing parents is fashioned, we trust, to bring praise to God and to further His kingdom (Ps. 127:4). Further, we are to bring forth fruit as the spiritual “mothers in Israel” did, whose histories are in Scripture as an example to us (Judg. 5:7; 2 Sam. 20:19). Our fruit in childbearing and kingdom-service glorifies God as it flows from the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts (1 Tim. 2:15).

The Spirit of Jesus Christ is promised to every believer, whether our lives are marked by memorable public deeds or quiet supporting work. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary in a special way (Luke 1:35), but we have no less sure promises of the Holy Spirit equipping us (John 15:4-5; Ezek. 36:26-27). The Spirit alone cultivates in us those quiet graces that mark the woman of God (1 Peter 3:4; Titus 2:3-5). These beautiful sketches of godly womanhood described Mary as a sinner (Luke 1:46-47) in whom the Spirit dwelt, and they describe our lives as we obey God’s Word and abide in Him.

Mary’s life after the dramatic revelation of God’s will was not easy. She would give birth among cattle, flee to a foreign country, and deal with misunderstandings about the birth and identity of her son. She would be puzzled by Jesus’ difficult sayings and rebuked when she unknowingly sought to direct Him away from His Father’s will. She would see her Son cruelly and unjustly killed. You too may have a life marked by unforeseen, agonizing trials. Yet Jesus provided for Mary to the last (John 19:26-27), and will He not also do so for you? Indeed, He has promised that He will (John 10:28-29; Rom. 8:32).

As we put our trust in God’s revealed plan to use us, we, like Mary, are exalted. Jesus strikingly stated in Luke 8:21, “My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” Let us trust God, the one who performs His Word; yield ourselves to obey Him; internalize His revealed will; and abound in praise and fruitfulness by His Spirit. May these beautiful words apply to you as well as to Mary: “Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

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