Mary was a young woman who lived in Nazareth. She had been promised to a man named Joseph and was a virgin. When the angel Gabriel greeted her, he said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Mary was troubled and puzzled. She must also have been afraid, because Gabriel said to 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 understood clearly, and she asked the most logical question in the world: How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? She had never had a physical relationship with anyone. She was a virgin. Mary couldn’t figure out how she could have a baby. She did understand, however, what Gabriel was telling her: her baby would be the promised Messiah.
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. God understood her questioning, and Gabriel answered with an explanation of how this unique Baby would be conceived. It’s going to be a miracle—something only God can do. Gabriel adds, 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.
Mary soon traveled to Elisabeth and Zacharias’ house where she was greeted with these words: 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? The Bible says Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost when she pronounced these amazing words. Elisabeth knew by the Holy Spirit that Mary was expecting a Baby and that He was her Lord!
Mary responded, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Notice what she says: Mary praises the Lord! She rejoices in God, her Savior!
Why did Mary point away from herself and to the Lord, to God, to her Savior? Because it is God that deserves praise. No human being is worthy of this kind of praise. She was conscious that she was merely someone that God had graciously chosen to use.
Read what she says next: 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. Mary was conscious that the privilege of bearing the Messiah was God’s grace towards her. She gives Him the praise: For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
Why did Mary need a Savior? It’s because she was a normal human being, a sinner in need of a Savior. She never claimed to be anything else, and the Bible never makes her anything else.
She was a great woman of faith, yes. She was willing for the Lord to use her. She was willing to suffer the ill repute, the gossip, and misunderstanding in order to let God use her body as a vehicle for bringing His Holy Son to earth. She must have wondered if Joseph would still accept her, if she had this child. We see her sweet obedience to God’s will in her response to Gabriel, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. “Here I am; use me.”
Mary’s faith is an example to all of us.
- No matter what people might think, are we willing to be used of God?
- Are we willing to play a unique role and carry out God’s plan?
- Do we respond sweetly and submissively when God asks us to do something?
- When we hear God’s Word (the Bible), are we quick to respond positively?
Before Jesus was conceived, Mary had believed on her promised Messiah. Much later, Jesus would say to Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29). The Bible defines faith: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
As Jesus ministered, we find that Mary was one of His followers. She knew He was God. She trusted in Him for salvation. What a blessing and what an example!
(The biblical story and most quotes used are from Luke 1:26-35, 37-38, 41-43, 46-56. Photo from www.freebibleimages.org.)