Dear Church Family,
Well, we’ve finally come to the end of our sermon series in the book of Genesis. This Sunday, December 21st, we will be looking at a passage from the first chapter of Luke as we consider the meaning of the incarnation and birth of the Son of God. At our Christmas Eve candlelight service, we will look at a couple of verses from Luke 3 and the significance of Jesus’ baptism (yes, you read that right – just come, you’ll see).
As I’ve been preparing for the sermon this coming Sunday from Luke 1:39-55, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary. Unfortunately, we Protestants don’t think a lot about Mary as a person. She may seem to us to be a very flat character – just sort of there, not really knowing what was going on. Perhaps this is a reaction to the Roman Catholic Church’s erroneous teaching on Mary’s role in salvation. [For instance, at Vatican II in 1964, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed “the union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation” by her “freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, chapter 8, paragraphs 56-57).]
Of course, we Protestants affirm that Mary was a person like us, born in sin and in need of a Savior (the Savior who was born to her!) – just like all those who are descended from Adam by ordinary generation (WCF 6:3). But, as I said, this week I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary. While she was no co-redemtrix, Mary has a lot to teach us. Consider her song of praise which we will be looking at this coming Sunday:
46 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.” (Luke 1:46-55)
Mary recognized her humble state and the unmerited blessing of God in being chosen to be the one who would give birth to the Savior (vv 46-50). What’s more, Mary had a keen understanding of the promises of God in the old covenant and how these promises were being fulfilled through the child that she carried in her womb (vv 51-55). Mary was not sinless, but she was no dummy either!
Mary, did you know?
Around this time of year, you might hear the song Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lowry. The lyrics of the song give expression to the Person and work of Jesus Christ as Lord of creation and Redeemer of mankind:
Mary did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
Oh Mary did you know
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am
It’s a beautiful song in my opinion, but the question in the title which is repeated throughout (“Mary, did you know?”) – is unfortunate, I think. You can’t help but read the words of Mary’s song in Luke 1 and not arrive at the conclusion: Yes, Mary knew!
She understood the significance of the Christ-child that she bore in her womb. She understood, unlike many others to whom Jesus preached, that her son was the great ‘I am’ (John 8:56-59). She understood that her baby was the Lord making good on the promises that He had made to Abraham and his descendants.
The question is: Do you know?
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch