*Sermon: Have a “Mary” Christmas This Year*
Sermons about Mary are very rare in our Protestant churches.
We very rarely even talk about Mary unless we’re telling a joke around the office water cooler or passing it on in an email.
Which reminds me… Have you heard the one where Jesus is teaching in the synagogue when a woman who had been caught in adultery is dragged before Him?
The people are about to stone her to death when Jesus gets to His feet and says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
All of a sudden a rock comes flying toward the adulteress from somewhere near the back of the crowd.
Jesus looks up in amazement and as the crowd parts, a woman comes into view.
To which Jesus replies, “Mom, how many times have I told you not to come to these things?”
That was bad.
Anyway…Hey, you get the point.
We very rarely even /think/ about Mary.
It’s only at this time of year that many Protestants ever hear about Mary at all.
As a matter of fact, when I was researching this sermon at the Protestant seminary that I attend, I found all of the books about Mary available and in their respective places on the library bookshelves.
This has never happened when I have researched any other biblical subject!
Evidently the study of Mary was not one of the Top Ten topics for papers in theology class this semester.
And that’s too bad because we could use a good dose of “Mariology” right now.
We’re the ones who are missing out because when you take a closer look at Mary, you learn that she was an amazing woman; she wasn’t perfect (as a matter of fact she was nobody special) but she believed God’s promise to her and she was obedient to His will for her life.
Mary is a woman who we would all do well to emulate.
Why is it that we have given Mary so little place in our thinking, study and worship?
Well, that’s a topic that we won’t get into here.
Suffice it to say that there are vast differences in Protestant and Catholic doctrine as it relates to Mary.
But rather than concentrating on negatives, let’s concentrate on the positives that Mary exhibited and the important role she played as the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In order to do that we need to take a closer look at Mary.
Just who was Mary anyway?
If you have your Bibles, please open up to Luke chapter 1 or you can follow along on the screen.
We read beginning in verse 26:
*>>Read Luke 1:26-38<<*
**Mary Was Nobody Special*
No doubt this opening point may be troubling to some people.
But let’s see what Mary herself and the scriptures have to say for themselves on this.
26 “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.
The virgin’s name was Mary.”
The first thing we learn about Mary from the scripture is that Mary was engaged to be married and that she was a virgin.
This point was actually understood back in ancient Israel, as the Mosaic Law was very clear regarding the details of the betrothal period.
As Pastor Mark explained last Sunday, though the engaged couple was legally married, no sexual relations could take place for a period of 1 year.
Mary was probably about 13 years old when her parents arranged for her to marry Joseph.
We also learn that Mary was a direct descendant of King David.
(Interestingly enough, as demonstrated in Matthew’s genealogy, Joseph was also a direct descendant of David.)
This is a critical point as the prophecies regarding Messiah foretold that he would be born of David’s lineage.
So the prophecy was about to be fulfilled in Mary.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”
“Highly favored…” Or, “woman richly blessed”.
The Greek: κεχαριτωμένη.
(Verb, perfect, passive, participle, singular, nominative, feminine) can be translated here “to cause to be the recipient of a benefit, bestow favor on, favor highly, bless”.
What does this mean?
Mary was to be the recipient of a benefit or blessing from God. Had she done anything to earn this blessing?
The blessing was bestowed upon her by God.
Mary’s role in this was passive.
She didn’t earn God’s favor.
Mary had been chosen by God.
There is nothing any of us can do to earn God’s favor.
This is another example of how God chooses whom He will based not upon our merits but only according to His purposes.
Now that doesn’t mean that Mary wasn’t an exceptional, godly woman.
We’ll see this demonstrated very clearly in the next few verses.
The point here is that our God specializes in taking humble, ordinary people who are committed to Him and doing extraordinary things through them.
So, according to this verse, God had placed His blessing upon Mary.
She was to be the recipient of some kind of blessing from God.
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”
Mary was confused.
She was dumbfounded.
“Are you talking to me?” Maybe the angel had gotten bad directions from Mapquest.com
I mean, who hasn’t had that happen to them?
Maybe the angel had gotten her confused with somebody else? Mary couldn’t imagine why she (of all people) would be visited by an angel or in what manner she was “highly favored”.
Mary was humble.
After all, Mary saw herself as a humble bondslave.
If we skip ahead to Verse 48, and a portion of scripture that has been called “Mary’s Song” or “The Magnificat”, we read Mary’s own words: “…he has been mindful \\ of the humble state of his servant.”
*John V. Grier Koontz* points out that “the noun “humble estate” (tapeinosis) is objective, referring to Mary’s external condition rather than to her humility of mind since the latter interpretation would make Mary boastful of her humility.
The intimation [here] is not only that her family was poor in Judah but that she ranked least in her father’s house, as if she was despised and unjustly treated by her relations and the outcast of her family.”
And if she was despised and unjustly treated by her family at this point, just wait until the news of her pregnancy hit home!
As I mentioned, Mary was a very young woman.
She would have spent most of her days working in the fields tending crops or milking cows or goats.
She was not particularly well-educated (according to the custom of the day) although she was obviously very intelligent.
This becomes even more apparent when you study Luke 1:46-56 (Mary’s Song or Magnificat).
Mary’s knowledge of scripture was exceptional.
We’ll take a closer look at this point in a moment.
Back to verse 29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words…” Not only was she confused; Mary was afraid.
I mean, how would you feel if an angel appeared to you and began speaking to you?
I know I’d be scared to death! Mary shows us that it’s OK to be afraid.
She was afraid and God was still able to do wonderful things through her life.
Have you ever been greatly troubled?
We all have.
Mary was just like you and me.
When faced with a troubling, startling situation she was afraid.