What You Have in Common With Mary
One of the central characters in the Biblical account of the first Christmas is Mary. In fact, we might easily say that she is the second-most important character, after Jesus Christ! Joseph is an important character, the shepherds are important, and the angels and wise men are also important figures in the Biblical account of Christ’s birth and early life, but none of those are more critical to the story than Mary. She was a remarkable lady!
It is interesting that for a person who had such an important part to play in such an important event in world history, there isn’t much said about her in the Scriptures. There are a few Biblical references, it is true, but especially when we look for Biblical scenes that mention her, or direct quotes, there are very little examples. This is significant, and instructive for us, because if Mary is as elevated and exalted as many people believe she is, then the Bible’s lack of attention to her seems a bit tragic.
Many people believe and say things about Mary that are not merely complimentary and flattering, but are unscriptural and untrue as well. Many people believe that, just like Christ stands far above the rest of all other men, Mary stands far above all women in every way.
This morning, I want us to see how Scripture reveals that not only does Mary NOT stand far above all women in every way, but in fact each one of us has much in common with Mary, the mother of Jesus! Does that seem far-fetched? Then stay tuned, because in a moment, I want to show you what YOU may have in common with Mary.
Good morning, and welcome to Truth for Today, a weekly radio ministry of Bible Baptist Church in Grand Forks, North Dakota. My name is Ethan Custer, and I serve as the assistant under Pastor Mike Custer, the regular host of this broadcast. We at Bible Baptist Church desire to be a spiritual help to you in any way that we can. Our church building is located at 6367 Gateway Drive, on the west edge of Grand Forks. We meet several times each week to worship God, and our highest desire in life is to obey and please the Lord Jesus Christ in all that we do. Our source of truth and guide for living is the Authorized King James Bible, the Word of God in the English language. In the Scriptures, God offers solutions for every one of life’s problems! If we can help you in any way, please let us know. We would appreciate that opportunity. I’ll be giving our contact information at the end of the broadcast, so I hope you’ll stick with me.
As I said earlier, many people believe things about Mary that are simply not true. Many folks lift Mary above the rest of sinful humanity, by believing and teaching what is called the Immaculate Conception. In brief, this means that Mary was conceived without sin, and lived her entire life sinless and holy. If this were true, this would put her on the level of Jesus Christ Himself—who is God—because Jesus has never sinned, which is why He is qualified and capable of being the Saviour for sinners.
At first glance, this belief raises some important questions. If Mary never sinned, why does the Bible say so little about her? Wouldn’t a sinless woman be used by God in some incredible ways, throughout her life? If she was so used by God, why weren’t those things recorded in Scripture for our instruction and benefit? Further, if Mary was sinless, why doesn’t the Bible make that clear? Again, such an important truth should make its way into the pages of Scripture somehow. But as we’ll see this morning, what we find in Scripture is exactly the opposite. Instead of finding that she is the only sinless woman to ever live, we find she is just like all other women in the area of sin.
Simply by virtue of her being chosen to be the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, many want to exalt Mary to another level of humanity. But instead of her accepting such treatment and approving it, we find the Bible quoting Mary’s words, and revealing her humble spirit, placing herself in the same category as the rest of us.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: I am NOT saying that you and I have everything in common with Mary! She was the recipient of a wholly singular blessing, which we find described in Luke 1.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Mary was a privileged and blessed lady. She was a remarkable, rare person! Consider these rare blessings of hers.
First, she was a descendant of King David. Her husband Joseph was as well, but most people in Israel were not, and certainly in all the world, only a tiny group of people can claim King David as their ancestor! Second, she was a Godly lady, living a pure life, who had found favor with God, as the angel Gabriel states. This is also a rare kind of person! Finally, she had been chosen by God to be the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. As we all realize, this is a privilege so rare, that she is the only one to ever experience this.
But when we go beneath her superficial qualities like geography, era, and culture, we’ll see that all of us today have a LOT in common with Mary, the mother of Jesus. How can I be so sure about this? Because in Luke chapter 1, we read Mary’s words, and we see what’s in her heart. By understanding her words and the focus of them, we understand that she wasn’t sinless or godlike. Instead, she is much like you and me.
Let’s continue reading the Biblical account in Luke 1.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
First, I want us to see that Mary was confused to hear Gabriel’s news. If a woman was completely sinless and holy, I would expect her to be more accustomed to God’s work in her life. But just like any woman would be, Mary was perplexed to think that she could have a son while being a virgin.
We also see Mary’s humility in these verses. In verse 38, Mary says, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She is saying, “I’m simply God’s servant. So whatever He wants for me, that is my desire as well.” Is this your attitude toward God and His Word? So many people want to tell God how to do things, but when Mary was informed of God’s plans for her, she humbly submitted, regardless of the sacrifices it would require of her. You and I may have that same spirit!
Let’s continue reading.
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Mary’s cousin, Elisabeth, was also miraculously with child. She had conceived in her old age, and her son was to be John the Baptist. He would prepare the way for Christ to come on the scene. We see a wonderful statement she makes when Mary comes to her house. Elisabeth is filled with the Holy Ghost, and she states some important things.
First, Elisabeth points out what is obvious to us: that Mary was a blessed woman, and that the conceived child in her, Jesus Christ, was no ordinary child. Elisabeth then refers to Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Mary didn’t call or text Elisabeth to let her know she had seen the angel. How could Elisabeth know these things? Only from the Holy Ghost, Who was filling her as she spoke.
Elisabeth shows personal humility and praises Mary in the same statement, “Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She is saying, “Why would you, the mother of my Lord, come visit me? I don’t deserve this.”
Finally, Elisabeth reminds us of the power and importance of faith. In verse 45 she mentions Mary’s belief.
And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Because Mary submitted to God’s Word and believed that He would do what He said, she was blessed to see it all come to pass. You know, you and I have the same opportunity today. We have been given God’s Word to read and believe and follow. In it, God promises many wonderful things…but if we don’t trust His words and put our faith in God, we won’t see God do those things in our lives. Just like Mary, you have the opportunity to believe God’s Word and submit to it.
After Elisabeth says these things, Mary replies with some wonderful and remarkable statements of truth. We will spend the rest of our remaining time looking at what she said.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
It’s notable to me that after hearing such complimentary things from Elisabeth, Mary didn’t put the focus on herself or on how thrilling the situation was. She immediately praised the Lord. It’s natural for us to want to take credit for things we do, but no matter what we accomplish, we don’t deserve the credit. Only God deserves it! He has given us life, given us strength, given us intelligence and learning capability, given us opportunity, and given us success. How often does our soul magnify the Lord for His blessings to us? Mary received a blessing she did not deserve. Like her, we may magnify God for His goodness.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
This verse makes it quite clear that Mary was a sinner like you and me. Christ was sinless, which made Him qualified to be our Saviour. Only someone who has never broken God’s law could pay for the sins of others. Mary points out that just like you and me, she needed a Saviour. If she had never violated God’s law, she wouldn’t need one, because she would have no reason to need saving! But she did. And having God as her Saviour caused her to rejoice! Do you know what it means to have Christ as your Saviour? Is there rejoicing in your heart? If not, you may yet be saved; you may yet rejoice! That is something else you may have in common with Mary.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Another reason for Mary’s rejoicing was her realization that God had given her a priceless blessing…one that she did not deserve. She indicates her “low estate” as God’s servant girl. A humble servant girl has no reason to boast and demand great blessings! Nevertheless, but God reached down and blessed her. And He still does this today! You and I will not be blessed exactly like Mary was, but we too may rejoice that God condescended to our low estate, and gave us many undeserved blessings. What a wonderful commonality we may share with Mary!
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him From generation to generation.
Mary’s words remind me of Psalm 126:3, which says, “The Lord hath done great things for us; Whereof we are glad.” God has done great things for many people; what has He done for you? His blessings in the natural world are all around us, but He gives extra and special blessings to those who fear and obey Him. Mary did. Do you? We may have this in common with Mary as well: that God’s mercy and might are evident in our lives daily.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, And exalted them of low degree.
Mary knew the Scriptures! Her words here are very similar to a number of other Scripture passages, including Psalms.
Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; Thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.
Thou hast a mighty arm: Strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.
Anyone who exalts themselves before God is proud, and James 4:6 tells us of God’s response.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
In Luke 1:52, Mary shows us the kind of person that God uses—it’s not a mighty person, but a lowly one. This truth is repeated in 1 Corinthians.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Why did God choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus? There were doubtless many reasons, but not least among them was her humility. She was lowly and humble…just the kind of person God desires to use. Are you lowly and humble? We may have this in common with Mary as well!
He hath filled the hungry with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away.
There are many poor and hungry people in the world today, and there have probably always been many. It is tragic that poverty and hunger are so constant and common. Mary is not saying that God solves world hunger. He is capable of such a thing, but He has not chosen to do so now. Mary is comparing the end result of those who rely on God with those who rely on themselves. The poor and hungry are usually more willing to go to God for help, because they often have nowhere else to turn! God wants us to come to Him; He has told us how He will respond. Using the same illustration of food, Jesus Christ calls on people to hunger for the truth!
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Jesus used hunger to also illustrate how we ought to desire righteousness.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Hunger begins as a small, nagging sensation, and if left unsatisfied, grows to become constant, distracting pain. Friend, do you desire God and His righteousness this way? Do you desire to know and follow truth with the same insistent pangs as you desire food? If you do, God will satisfy you. You WILL be filled.
On the contrary, those who are rich do not hunger, or fear it. They have all the food they need, provided by themselves. They aren’t threatened by the idea of hunger, and they don’t experience the necessity of asking God for their next meal. They are self-sufficient. And those who are self-sufficient spiritually will end up empty. We see this indicated in Jesus’ parable in Luke 18.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Pharisee acted spiritually like a rich person acts toward material possessions: he had it all, and he didn’t need anything from God. Publicans were typically wealthy people in Bible times, but this publican didn’t act wealthy in spiritual things—he acted like a beggar! He humbled himself and begged God for mercy. And God heard his prayer and saved him.
Mary was not a sinless person who was doing God a favor by birthing Jesus. If she were, you and I wouldn’t have much in common with her! Instead, she was a humble sinner, an abased servant of God. She didn’t deserve God’s goodness, but she loved and obeyed God. And so when He blessed her in marvelous ways, she praised Him. Friend, you and I may please God in the same way, and enjoy His blessings for the same reasons!
Finally, Mary enjoyed the blessings of God’s kept promises, and so may we.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, In remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, To Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation, and God kept His promise. Israel had sinned and been unfaithful to God many times over, but God was faithful to His promises. Mary was a beneficiary of this. We may not be Jews, but we may also enjoy the blessings of God keeping His promises to us! Many of His promises are founded in the Person of Jesus Christ Himself.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Friend, have you believed what Jesus Christ taught, and believed in Who He is? He isn’t just a prophet or a teacher. He is the ONLY begotten Son of God. He is God in the flesh, and He is the Saviour. He came to pay for the sins of all men. You can’t pay for yours; it’s not possible. No amount of religious works can pay for your sins. No quality of sincerity will buy you eternal life. Salvation is only available through Christ’s shed blood on the cross. You must see your sin as God sees it: it is vile, hopelessly corrupt, and it means you are condemned.
Mary understood this; she realized that she needed a Saviour…and she had one. She had put her faith in God for salvation. She was humble, understanding that she deserved only judgment from God, just like you and me. She believed God’s promises, and served Him with her life.
Because of Mary’s obedience and humility, God chose her for the singular task of bearing the Christ child. But Mary’s motherhood is about the only thing of significance that we may not share! All of her other greatest blessings were spiritual ones…and they are available to all.
What do you have in common with Mary? Do you know what God says about His own holiness, and about our sin? Do you know that no sin can enter Heaven? Do you know that none of us can wash ourselves clean of our sin? Only God can do that, and He does it with the sinless blood of Christ that was shed. All that’s required of a sinner is that he repent of his sin, and believe the gospel.
Do you have humility of heart and mind? Do you attempt to take credit for God’s blessings, or do you magnify Him? Do you recognize His mighty works and His great mercy toward you? Do you go humbly to Him for provision, or do you rely on yourself? God has promised that He will always help the needy…but we must go to Him in faith and humility, trusting Him to keep His promises.
Mary was a remarkable woman, and exceptional in some key ways…but in most ways, she was exceptionally common, just like you and me. God is looking for more people like her. He wants to showcase His power, His mercy, and His blessings in the lives of people who do not deserve it. Will you have that in common with Mary?
If you have any questions about this broadcast or about other truths from the Bible, we at Bible Baptist Church would be glad to visit with you! You may contact us in a number of ways. First, you may contact me via email by writing to email@example.com. You may also find our website at www.bbcgf.org. Bible Baptist Church is located at 6367 Gateway Drive in Grand Forks, and we have regular Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening services. You are welcome to attend any of them. If you would rather watch the livestream of our services, or if you would like to watch archives of past services, you may find them on our website as well.
Thank you for listening today! Please tune in again next week at this same time for more truth from God’s Word, on Truth for Today.