person in the New Testament is more controversial than Mary, the mother of
Jesus. This fits poorly with her character, for we shall see that humility and
sweetness of soul are her prime characteristics.
shall work our way in from the outside. First, we shall consider those things
which are events concerning Mary.
are many Scriptures which prophecy the coming of the Christ, but only three
which deal with the virgin birth. Of these, only one is clear in its intent;
the others are seen as prophetic looking back. They are:
Gen 3:15 NASB
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her
seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the
Isa 7:14 NASB
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be
with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Jer 31:22 NASB
"How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD
has created a new thing in the earth-- A woman will encompass a man."
as far as I can find, is the extent of prophecy on the subject of the virgin
birth. It is an essential part of God’s plan, but not one subject to much
all the hoopla over Mary (see next session), she is mentioned very little after
the birth of Christ:
is present at, and instigates, His first miracle: the changing of water
seeks to talk to Him once, and His reply is, “Who are my mother….”
is at the Cross, where Jesus gives the responsibility for her care over to
his best friend, John.
the resurrection, she is found in the company of the Apostles.
primary controversy over Mary today comes from the Roman Catholic Church. The
Catholics have added greatly to Mary as found in Scripture. In dealing with a
Catholic, you should remember that they hold the “magisterium of the church” (i.e.,
traditional beliefs not found in Scripture) to be on an equal footing with the
Scripture. Given this, there is little sense debating it. I confine myself to
short commentary on each doctrine so that you will understand what they teach.
- Immaculate Conception. This teaching is that Mary was
born without original sin.
The argument is philosophical; how could God be born into the world in
- Perpetual Virginity. This doctrine states that Mary
never had sex. It comes out of the honor given to celibacy in the 4th
century AD. (There are some serious implications on the doctrine of
marriage from this.)
- Bodily Assumption. This states that Mary was translated to heaven
bodily, and did not die. Again, a late addition.
- Intercessor. Catholics hold that praying to Mary is not only
possible, but required.
- Mother of God. This is perhaps most disturbing one of all. It
implies Mary’s authority over Christ. Most protestants will use “mother
of Jesus”; the Eastern Orthodox churches use the Greek theotokos,
meaning “The bearer of God.”
should note that these beliefs are held dearly, especially by those who accept
tradition and church teaching blindly. As Khrushchev once put it, “Weak point –
Halley, a Bible commentator of the 1920s, described the Papacy this way:
arose on the ruins of the Roman Empire, in the name of Christ occupying the
throne of the Caesars; a Revival of the Image of the Roman Empire inheriting
the Spirit thereof; ‘the Ghost of the Roman Empire come to life in the garb of
Christianity’ ... It brought itself to power through the prestige of Rome, and
the Name of Christ, and by shrewd political alliances, and by deception, and by
armed force; and by Armed Force and Bloodshed has maintained itself in
power“ (flaming capitals in the original) -- from which you can see how he felt
about the Catholic church. Yet see how he views Mary:
was a quiet, meditative, devoted, wise woman, most honored of women, queen of
mothers, sharing the cares common to motherhood. We admire her, we honor
her, and we love her because she was the mother of our Savior.”
Character of Mary
the angel’s announcement to Mary we can learn of her character:
is highly favored. She is also a nobody, just another Jewish kid
as far as the world is concerned. The word is used only twice in the New
Testament; the other reference uses it to describe the church.
We have the picture of a simple, almost anonymous, devoted follower of
Lord is with her. The same greeting was given to Gideon, who evidenced
plenty of reasons to make sure of that. She accepts it as the truth.
declares herself to be the bondslave (NASB) of the Lord. (Others have
“servant” or “handmaiden.”) If there is a key to Mary, it is in her
unquestioning obedience to God.
meeting with Elizabeth
has evidently been given some degree of revelation concerning Mary’s child. In
her greeting to Mary she gives us some additional information:
confirms that Mary is “blessed.” As we shall see in the next section,
this adjective is attached to her name through all generations. (So it is
not a sin to call her “blessed.”)
please, that Mary comes to Elizabeth, not the other way around. Elizabeth
is older, but Mary’s child is more important. That fact is irrelevant to
Mary; she walks in humility.
is one who believes what the Lord said.
She has the simple faith of those who trust in God completely.
a list that would grace any Christian.
is clear that Mary is a woman of purity. (Joseph’s reaction?)
also makes motherhood a great desire and the source of honor for her.
as we saw at Cana, this is a woman who cares for others.
is no sense of “strut” in Mary’s conduct. She obtained more than her heart’s
desire because of that.
Luk 1:46-55 NASB
And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, (47)
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. (48)
"For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold,
from this time on all generations will count me blessed. (49) "For the Mighty One has done great things
for me; And holy is His name. (50) "AND
HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. (51) "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He
has scattered those who were proud in
the thoughts of their heart. (52) "He
has brought down rulers from their
thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. (53)
"HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.
(54) "He has given help to Israel His
servant, In remembrance of His mercy, (55) As
He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever."
soul exalts the Lord
Psalms often begin with praise to the Lord. It may seem ornamental in the
poem, but it actually is essential:
is a source of equality among us, for rich and poor alike can exalt the
Lord. It is not my standing based on my works, but my standing as one who
exalts the Lord.
is a remedy for pride. If I am looking up to God, it’s much harder to
look down on everyone else.
is a cause for rejoicing in hope. His word is sure, you can see His deeds
of old – and know that His promise is sure as well.
has done great things
a challenge for you: has He done great things in your sight?
back on all the times you have felt His presence – or seen Him at work
within you. Are not these worthy of praise?
has done great things for others. It is a mark of genuine humility when
you can look what God does in the lives of others and praise Him for it.
to be specific, He has uplifted the humble and brought down the proud. If
you’ve ever been on the receiving end of “the proud,” you know what a
great victory that is.
is not just that He has done great things for us. We also need to look back
over all of time to see how His character has not changed:
that He has fulfilled His promises to the patriarchs.
the help that He has given Israel.
the great mercy He has, perfected at Calvary.