Like a woman covered in veils, Mary is a woman wrapped in mystery. We are left to guess about her looks, her life with Joseph and how she mothered Jesus. She was an ordinary person. And in many ways, just like us. She believed the angel Gabriel. And yet, how much did she know about the prophesied virgin birth when only the boys of her time were schooled in Scripture? Even though she couldn’t understand the sense of God’s power shadowing over her, the words that spilled from her mouth must have pleased God.
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38 NLT)
“We know from the accounts of the angel’s visit with Mary that she was a woman of great faith and was living a life that brought honor to God,” explained Pastor Tom Mullins, founder of Christ Fellowship, a church of nearly 30,000 people on regional campuses in South Florida, online and in New York City. “Her purity is reflected in her virginity, but the purity of her heart is what stands out. Man may look at the outward appearance, but God always looks upon the heart, and when He looked at Mary’s heart, He saw such devotion and love. He knew she could be trusted with this assignment.”
As Jesus’ mother, Mary was the greatest testimony of the validity of who Christ was. She was trusted with the revelation of His divinity, and she was the carrier of His identity. Today, we see the miracle of Jesus in our lives, but don’t always understand that trusting in the Lord always takes a sacrifice.
It was a sacrifice for Mary. When you consider her response to the angel Gabriel’s visitation, you forget that she was a maiden with her whole life before her, yet she was asked to risk scandal, misunderstandings, lunacy charges and possibly stoning. Mary, however, didn’t see her calling to be the Messiah’s mother as a risk but as an honor. Still, we can imagine the emotions she must have felt as she traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, carrying God’s Son.
One may wonder why God used a woman to reveal His divine plan of redemption for mankind. “There is something about the vulnerability of a child that demonstrates the depth of the agape love of the Father,” said Pastor Mullins. “It’s an all-forgiving, all-consuming, unconditional love. Christ came as a child in an ultimate demonstration of the love of God, and He honored His revealed plan for mankind just as He had said He would.”
The virgin birth unveils our purpose and direction in life. “Jesus was born of man so that we could be born of God,” explained Pastor Mullins in a recent teaching. He quoted Ephesians 1:11, which says, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”
In an intense search for the truth — challenging, questioning and supremely confident of their intellectual authority — some people ultimately forget these words, and find comfort in whatever the world offers in terms of entertainment and worldly living.
And then there’s Mary. She didn’t understand what God’s plan fully was, but she believed that Jesus was the Messiah — even when he was on the cross. She suffered grief and loss, seeing her son tortured with a sword that pierced his body, as well as her heart.
It’s hard for us to imagine Mary was a real woman. And that Jesus was her son. As a mother, she expected him to obey her, as we read in Luke 2:38: “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
Jesus’ answer shows his authority but also his obedience to both her, his mother, and God, his Father. “Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’” Later on, Jesus went home to Nazareth with them, showing his obedience. And the Bible says that “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).
Jesus may have looked, and in many ways acted just like a regular boy. He probably skinned his knee, but he also understood the mission and purpose for his life. Mary did too. “Mary’s relationship with the Messiah was initially one of mother and nurturer,” explained Pastor Mullin’s wife, Pastor Donna Mullins. “As He grew, she had to step back and allow him the space to fulfill His destiny. That had to be challenging, but her tremendous love and devotion to him as son and Messiah for the world gave her the perspective she needed to willingly release him to be the Lamb of God for our sins. I imagine she adopted the mindset, ‘I’ve done my job to mother and care for Him, and now I must not inhibit Him from fulfilling His highest calling.’”
We see this in Jesus’ first recorded miracle. When Mary and Jesus come to be at a wedding, and the supply of the wine dwindles, Mary grows anxious and brings the matter to Jesus. “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come,” he tells her. Mary ignores Jesus’ desire to be discreet and tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus, in turn, responds to Mary’s implied request that he solve the problem. (John 2:1-11)
This way of thinking about God profoundly changes the way the believer believes. We come to him in faith, expecting a miracle. While he hopes we tell him, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
Maritza Cosano is a freelance writer and author. She also operates www.writers-circle.com, a site for aspiring authors. Contact Maritza at firstname.lastname@example.org.