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by George Sweeting


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or centuries, people have asked, "Why did God select Mary?" If she was worthy of bearing and raising the Lord incarnate, surely she offers a commendable model for to­day. Both mothers and potential mothers can benefit from insights about the mother chosen by God.

the padi of the caravans that traveled from Capernaum to the seaports. As in every generation, there were women in that town who became involved with the traveling men. But not Mary—Mary was pure.

Of course, Mary could not have been characterized by any kind of unfaithfulness. Otherwise, God could not have chosen her. Gabriel's words echoed God's full approval: "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God" (Luke 1:30).

Luke 1:27 records that Mary was a virgin. Some people today reject that teaching. They attempt to do away with the supernatural reality of Christ's birth by suggesting that Jesus was bom of a natural human union. But to deny the virgin birth of Jesus is to call God a liar.

Centuries before the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the prophet Isaiah had written: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuer (Isaiah 7:14). God, in His holy Word, stated that the mother of the Messiah would be a virgin—pure and holy.

Luke goes to great effort to defend the truth of the virgin birth. In Luke 1:27, he states Mary was a virgin. In Luke 1:34, Mary herself claims this. In Luke 1:35-37, the angel affirms

Dr. Sweeting is president of Moody Bible Insti­tute.

MOODY / MAY 1982


that Mary was, indeed, a virgin.

Luke recognized the doctrine of Christ's virgin birth was essential to the Christian faith. Without the virgin birth, mankind is left with an impure Mary, a human Jesus, and a faulty Bible. Christ's supernatural birth through a chaste virgin was necessary to insure the sinlessness of the holy Son of God.

When Mary received the angel's announcement, she was over­whelmed. "How shall this be," she said, "seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34).

Mary was engaged to Joseph (Luke 1:34), but they had not yet consum­mated their union as husband and wife. Imagine her amazement when the angel told her that she was to have a child!

Luke 1:35 records the angel giving her assurance: "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."

The angel then gave Mary proof that her Child would be without a human father: "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" (Luke 1:36-37).

What was the angel saying? Simply this—if God could cause Elisabeth to conceive, He could do anything. If Elisabeth and Zacharias could have a child at their age, Mary could have a child without a human father.

When Mary visited her cousin, she knew immediately that Elisabeth had been uniquely blessed by God.

"When Elisabeth heard the saluta­tion of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and she spoke 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 unto me?" (Luke 1:41-43).

To emphasize that Mary was pure is not to say she was different from you or me in regard to her sin nature. Mary was not sinless. Jesus was, but not Mary. She was a person who, like - all human beings, needed a Savior.

Mary demonstrated a submission that grows out of a humble heart. "The angel came to her, and said, Hail, thou that

art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28). Then Mary became trou­bled. She didn't know how to respond to his salutation.

Notice Mary's humility. When the angel finished his startling announce­ment that she was to be the mother of the Messiah, she replied, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38). What a beautiful response—Lord, I'm your servant. Whatever you want, I will do in complete submission.

Have you ever considered what it cost Mary to be the mother of Jesus? It cost her her reputation. It almost cost her Joseph.

I imagine she thought, "What will I tell people because I have no hus­band? And what will I ever tell Joseph?" How overwhelmed she must have been!

And then we can picture Joseph wrestling with mixed emotions. From Matthew's account, we learn just how upset he was: "Joseph ... being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily" (Matt. 1:19). Joseph, himself being a righteous man, had decided to divorce her quietly as was his prerogative under the law.

But God intervened, and "while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 1:19-20).

Joseph was then satisfied. But what about neighbors and relatives? It cost Mary to be submissive to God.

When Jesus was'just eight days old, His parents took Him to the Temple to be dedicated. There in the Temple waited Simeon, a devout old man who had received a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. The moment Si­meon saw the baby Jesus, he knew God's promise had been fulfilled.

Turning to Mary, he said, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35).

Mary lived to see that day when she stood by and watched Jesus crucified. She saw them drive the nails into His hands. She watched them press the

crown of diorns on his brow and thrust a spear into His side.

The sword Simeon spoke of pierced her soul. It cost Mary greatly to submit to God's will.

Mary demonstrated a devotion that grows out of a dedicated mind. Although she was very young, possibly still in her teens, Mary was a devout person. She knew her Scriptures. She had studied the Law and the Prophets.

Her song, which we know as "The Magnificat," composes a moving passage as it refers to portions of Scripture from 1 Samuel, the Psalms, Isaiah, "Micah, and Exodus:

"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his hand­maiden; for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 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."

This beautiful expression of faith came out of a dedicated mind. Mary loved the Scriptures.

Still other scenes illustrate that Mary was a woman of depth. She meditated on truth.

Once when Jesus^ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover, they left not knowing that Jesus, who was just a boy at the time, was not with the group. When they returned and found Jesus in the Temple, He asked them, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

Scripture reveals that Jesus' parents did not understand the meaning of those words. The account concludes with this pointed sentence: "But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart" (Luke 2:51).    "

Mary treasured all His words and meditated on them. She was a devout, modest, worshiping woman.

Mary's life reflects a pattern of godliness for both men and women. God wants you and me to be pure. He seeks those who are lowly in heart. And He urges us to saturate ourselves with the Scriptures.

like us, Mary was a person with needs. She was a woman in need of a Savior (Luke 1:47), and she recog­nized that need. Mary will be in heaven, not because Jesus was her child but because Jesus was her Savior, Lord, and Redeemer.

Is He yours? □



MOODY / MAY 1982

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