THE MOST FAMOUS MOTHER OF ALL
MARY MOTHER OF JESUS
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Imagine sitting at home…a knock at the door…
- A messenger from the Queen
- You are to receive a special award for being a good citizen
- You go along and find that there are hundreds of others receiving similar awards
- But it’s still a proud day
Imagine though if you went along and you were the only one to receive the award…
- The cameramen are there, flashlights sparkle, smartly dressed courtiers line the way, crowds cheer, reporters hover to get a story
- Your face is on the front page of every newspaper as the country’s best citizen…a proud moment
But say the messenger is from God…and the special award was to bear a child whose conception would be supernatural
- You are the only one chosen by the grace of God
- No TV, no reporters, no smart clothes, no camera crews
YOU MIGHT WELL THINK THAT THIS ‘AWARD’ WAS A BIT SUSPECT
- You are still young and have not slept with a man
- Yet you will bear a child…a unique child…
- You are even told what to call him!
MARY WAS AN ORDINARY GIRL…living in a rather unpleasant town (Nazareth)…no doubt with her mum and dad and brothers and sisters
- Perhaps she was the youngest (God often seems to choose the youngest)
- Perhaps she was on her own at the time (we are not told)…maybe others were there…but God usually speaks to us about very important matters when we are alone
- If we don’t give ourselves space and time to be alone it is far harder for God to speak to us, of course!
THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE ANGEL AND MARY IS FASCINATING…
“Greetings, you who are highly favoured. The Lord is with you“
Or in the words of The Message version:
“You are beautiful with God’s beauty, inside and outside”
HOW GOOD TO KNOW THAT
- God knows us individually
- He wants to make us beautiful for His glory, outside and in
Mary was, understandably, very troubled by the greeting….
- She was a humble person…and humble people are always surprised when they receive compliments
- She was probably quite young and in that culture it was older people who were revered
THE ANGEL CONTINUED:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God”
- Mary was not perfect…none of us are…but she was still favoured by God
- Such is His undeserved grace that He loves to dispense freely to all who look to Him in faith
BUT THERE WAS MORE TO COME:
“You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus”
- Imagine the shock!
- And you are even told the sex of the child and his name
In those days names were of great significance…
- So calling a baby Joshua (Jesus in Greek) was important…it means “God’s salvation” or “Saviour”
WE READ IN THE BIBLE THAT GOD CALLS US BY NAME…
- At one level that means the name we were given by our parents
- But at another level I believe that God gives us the name that He believes to be appropriate.
- I wonder what He calls you and I? What is our name? It will reflect our attitude, our behaviour, our calling
AND THEN THE ANGEL SAYS:
“The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) for ever; his kingdom will never end“
- The baby will not just be a king but an eternal king. How amazing!
- But Mary is hardly listening
- All she can hear are those words ‘You will have a child’
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?
Mary explains to the angel (as if the angel didn’t already know!)
“How can this be? I am a virgin“
- Flashing through her mind was the disgrace of it
- What would her parents and family think?
- How would she ever convince anyone of the truth?
IMAGINE the conversation that she might have with a friend…
“Oh, I hear you are having a baby, Mary”
“Yes, an angel told me that God would touch my womb and I would conceive”
“Oh, sure he did!”
BUT GOD DOESN’T PUT US IN TRICKY SITUATIONS without also giving us the strength and courage to endure
- We may not have heard any words from an angel…but we know when ‘those times’ have arrived… times of testing or when we need to trust God fully
- And we know that there is a purpose behind it…however unclear and perplexing
BECAUSE WE HAVE THE PROMISE THAT MARY RECEIVED…
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you“
- Overshadow means ‘hover over you’
- Some people talk about the Holy Spirit ‘brooding’ as a hen does with her chicks
- He is our Protector, our Guide, our Conscience, the major influence in our lives IF WE CHOOSE TO LET HIM BE
- So when we say “Yes” to Jesus we open ourselves to that kind of influence
- When we turn away (even if we call ourselves disciples of Jesus) we do not have those benefits in anything like the same way
AFTER TELLING MARY that the child will be the divine Son of God, the angel concludes:
“For nothing is impossible with God“
- The angel ought to know!
- God hasn’t failed yet…and isn’t about to start!
This is something to hold on to every day of the year
- Whatever our circumstances or situation…God hasn’t failed yet and won’t start with you!
- However impossible, however bleak…as we place ourselves into His hands unreservedly…in weakness…with just a mustard seed of faith…He hears our despairing cry and, like the men in the fiery furnace…brings us through or takes us home.
LET’S PRAY THAT WE HAVE MARY’S ATTITUDE:
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said“
- Powerful words
- Have your way, O Lord, whatever the cost
- Have your way, wherever it leads
Someone has rightly said that there is no safer place to be than in the centre of God’s will….
- As the hymn writer expressed it:
“The storm may roar around me… my heart may low be laid… but God is round about me and can I be dismayed?”
THEN THE ANGEL LEFT and life resumed its normal pattern
But things were different now:
- Life had, in just a few moments of time, changed direction forever
- Mary had come face to face with the claims of God upon her life
- What would she do?
- Would she run (as King Saul did) or hide (as Gideon did) or deny that it ever happened (as Peter did)?
NO! MARY PASSED THE TEST
- She believed God and went to see her relative, Elizabeth, whom the angel had said was also having a son.
- And in the coming months, right up to the time that Jesus was born and beyond, she trusted and proved the faithfulness of God
MARY COULD HAVE REFUSED TO ACCEPT GOD’S PURPOSE FOR HER LIFE…but instead she took God at His word.
- Mary the mother of Jesus was a young woman who looked ordinary but was very special inside…
GOD LOOKS ON THE HEART
- Just think about the news she was given…that she would bear the Son of God who was coming to earth as a man
ARE YOU LISTENING TO GOD? What is He saying to you and to me?
- Mary thought that it was more important to do what God wanted than anything else in the world…EVEN HARD THINGS
AS AN UNMARRIED MOTHER SHE COULD HAVE BEEN STONED TO DEATH…but she chose the narrow way that leads to life
- As it became obvious that Mary was going to have a baby, some people would have been nasty to her…even her family might have disowned her (we don’t know)
- Then the Christmas story…and all the hardship…joy…amazement…
What name would you have given the baby?
MARY CALLED HIS NAME JESUS BECAUSE HE WAS THE ONE WHO WOULD SAVE… Every child is special… Jesus was unique!
- Mary later had other children…but it seems that Joseph died… SO MARY BECAME A SINGLE PARENT…and Jesus the child of a single parent
…Let’s be careful not to be too quick to condemn people when we don’t know the full circumstances…and when we do, to show compassion
- Then as Jesus grew up, such incredible things happened
…Miracles, words that had such impact that clever men were left speechless, love and concern for individuals that put the disciples to shame
- And when Jesus died upon the Cross, his mother was there… Mary
THAT’S THE GREAT THING ABOUT MOTHERS…ALWAYS THERE FOR THEIR CHILDREN (AND HUSBANDS?)… Just as God is always there for us as His precious children
- And what JOY when Jesus came back to life!
IMAGINE HOW MARY FELT
So what was Mary’s secret?
We find out in Luke 1 v 38
“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be unto me as you have said.”
- Mary wasn’t special just because she was the woman who bore Jesus…but because she was someone who put God first.
WE CAN ALL DO THE SAME…not just this Christmas…but for the rest of our lives as we see Him for who He really is...
JESUS… SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD… who wants to be Lord of my life