Monday, April 3, 2017

Women in Scripture: Mary the mother of Jesus, Part 2

Mary the Mother of Jesus  
   Today as we continue to consider the biblical account of Mary, I would like to begin with Genesis 3:15. In this passage God is speaking to the serpent that has been the instrument of temptation for Adam and Eve.   It’s a comfort to consider that although the first act of sin for the human race happened at the hands of the first woman, even so the cure for sin would be brought into the world through the obedience of a humble woman.   God said to Satan in the garden “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you on the head (a fatal wound) and you will bruise him on the heel (non-fatal wound).    God used the seed of Mary,  the young virgin, to bring forth his promised Son, the Messiah, the sinless sin bearer.  If Jesus was not born of a virgin he would have been born with Adam’s imputed sin. Because no male was involved with his conception-no sin nature was passed to Jesus. This is mystery and it’s beyond our ability to fully comprehend—these facts have to be believed by faith alone. It is no wonder that through the ages the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus has been so attacked—without  the virgin birth we would have no sinless Savior. 
   I want to move to Mary’s marvelous song of praise where so much of her godly character is revealed to us (Luke 1:46-55).  As you study this you will find that her understanding of God’s goodness-mercy-power-justice and sovereignty are beyond her years or her station in life.   She knows the history of her people and the greatness of her God-the one true God. Her regard for the treasure of humility shines through everything she says.  Mary understood the value that humility and thankfulness have to the heart of God. In fact, God is so high on the virtue of a humble heart (Isaiah 66:2) that we should seek that in our lives as though we are seeking pure fresh water in the desert. Mary did. 
   When Jesus was eight days old his parents took him to the temple to be circumcised (Luke 2:25-38). Mary and Joseph met two very special old saints in the temple, Simeon and Anna. Simeon is described as righteous and devout.   The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah, the “Consolation of Israel.”  When Simeon saw the baby Jesus in the temple that day he took him into his arms and blessed God  for the gift he held. Simeon prophesied over Jesus and then he addressed Mary with these words  “Behold this child is appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-and a sword will pierce even your own soul-to the end that thoughts from many hearts will be revealed” Luke 2:34-35.  I want to focus on the phrase “and a sword will pierce even your own soul.” This is, of course, a reference to the pain and heartache that is in the future for Mary.   As a mother she is destined to suffer in that role in a manner that most of us could never imagine. Since the bible tells us on two occasions that Mary treasured and pondered everything about her role in the life of her unique firstborn son in her heart, I always wonder what she thought of these words from Simeon. Mary had no idea at all that Jesus would be crucified on a Roman cross. God is good to spare us the knowledge of things we will have to endure until they are upon us because his grace is sufficient during the pain of our suffering-not before. 

  If you read all the accounts of Jesus interacting with his mother (from the time he was 12 and stayed in Jerusalem until his parents missed him in the caravan and came to retrieve him with words of reproach) you will find that the Lord Jesus is distancing himself from the human mother-son relationship. Every time he interacts with her-this is so. It’s always fascinating for me to read these accounts. From the wedding at Cana to the foot of the cross-Jesus gently strives to make her realize her temporary- in time role.

   I want us to finally consider Mary at the cross as her firstborn, sinless son, is put to death in the most horrific manner one could think. I will focus on the account in John 19:25-27. In this passage we see Mary and her sister and Mary Magdalene along with John the beloved disciple watching Jesus die on the cross.   Nothing in scripture indicates that Mary could have prepared herself for such a cruel event. I wonder myself how she could have done this-but then how could she not have been there. The sword she was told would pierce her is now upon her. Words are so inadequate to describe this awful sight that no mother should have to endure.  Mary didn’t know at this point that the Son of God was being sacrificed on that cross for the sins of his people. She had no idea that there would be a resurrection. In the midst of this agony Jesus did a marvelous and wonderful thing. Even as he was suffering this death on that cross-he thought of his mother and what would happen to her. He said to her “Woman behold your son” and to John the disciple he said “behold your mother.” When he said behold your son-he meant John which is very clear from the context.  As he was dying on the cross he gave Mary into the care of his beloved disciple.   Remember that at that time Jesus own half brothers did not believe in him. It was at this point that the mother-son relationship between Mary and Jesus ended. It was over. The One who was born her son had now become her savior.   Her earthly relationship to him was temporary and ended when he died.

    The last time that we see Mary mentioned in the Bible is in Acts 1:14. In this passage she is included with   those in the upper room prayer meeting. She is not singled out anywhere in the NT as having any kind of leading role in the Church-in fact she is not mentioned again.  I love the story of her life and the lessons that we as Christian women can learn from her humble example. 
This post originally appeared on October 9, 2013 

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