One of the most difficult decisions that parents must make is who to appoint as guardians for their children in case both parents die at the same time. You think about who you would give your kids to if you are gone.
As this Sunday, Mother's Day approached I thought about God and wondered how He chose the one who would be the mother and raise the one who would become the savior of the world.
If it was me:
- I would choose someone with experience and training who knew something about children. A woman happily married with behaved children.
- I would choose someone with money who would take care of Him in a proper way.
- I would also make sure this woman lived in Jerusalem close to the temple because my son would be a religious leader and I'd want him to get the best training from the best teachers.
Of course God's ways are not man's ways and his criteria for choosing are different than mans. Look at who He chose to be the mother of the Savior:
- A young girl (perhaps 15-16) without experience in having or raising children.
- She wasn't even married yet, she was engaged to a man named Joseph.
- She was poor and without influence of any kind.
- She lived as far away from Jerusalem as you could get --- Nazareth, you got no respect in Jerusalem.
When it came to choosing the mother of Jesus, God went against the grain --- why? Why Mary, what was it about her that put her into the most influential position any woman ever had or would ever have?
I don't think God did a random search and came up with this girl named Mary who lived in Nazareth.
There were particular reasons why he chose her to become the mother of Jesus. Reasons you can see as you examine her life from the moment the angel announced the news of her pregnancy to the time when Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
First of all I believe that God saw that.
1. Mary was submissive - Lk.1:26-38
Submissive (the "S" word) simply means obedient.
- Obedience doesn't mean a person is without character or talent or a slave without a choice or opinion.
- Obedience is a virtue, a trait of character that comes with practice.
We know she was submissive because she had already obeyed many of God's commands (long before she submitted to the angel's words). She was a virgin and had obeyed the commands regarding her sexual life --- even during the time of her engagement to be married.
Some think its ok to have sex when they're engaged but Mary knew better and obeyed. She was willing to trust and obey God even when what He was asking her seemed inconvenient and impossible.
Being obedient isn't always very high on a modern woman's agenda these days. Submissiveness is not a quality that you'll see Oprah or Riki Lake promoting.
In order to be pleasing, today's girl is told to:
- Be pretty. (Right body, right make-up, right clothes)
- Be popular. (Right people, music, activities)
- Be independent. (Prepare for a good career so you can make it on your own and not have to depend on anybody --- especially a man!)
What's interesting about Mary is that we have no physical description of her or of her lifestyle:
- She could have been tall or short or heavy or thin.
- Maybe she was shy or could have been strong willed. We don't know.
- We certainly don't know about her clothes or how popular she was.
- But, we do know that she was obedient and for that quality God not only chose her but showered her with many blessings.
You see, God blesses a woman who goes against the grain and practices obedience.
Look at Mary and her blessings:
A. He gave her a terrific husband.
A man who was faithful to God and her. A man who was patient and kind. When he found out that she was pregnant, he married her anyway and waited until after the baby was born to have sex with her in order to obey God's command to him. A man who was a good father.
B. God gave her children
Mary had other children after Jesus and if you don't think having children is a real blessing --- ask those people who can't have any, what they would give to have a baby.
C. God gave her responsibility.
This girl was now responsible for the health and development of the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He also blessed her with another son, James, who is believed to have written one of the epistles in the Bible, and some scholars also believe the writer of the epistle of Jude was another one of her sons.
D. God gave her honor.
Honor is better than popularity because honor is a reflection of who you are, not who you know. Angel said "Hail, favored one."
Many girls today are afraid of not being pretty enough, popular enough, not making their mark on the world --- in doing this they forget that the only lasting and satisfying recognition and achievement is the honor given to us by God, not the approval or honor of man.
Mary demonstrated that what God is looking for, what makes a girl beautiful, competent, and worthy of His attention is her willingness to be obedient in a world that glorifies disobedience.
2. Mary Had A Servant - Heart.
In the most famous fairy-tale, Cinderella, the servant girl, becomes a princess and lives happily ever after. Being a servant is something you want to get away from, not be identified with in this world. But going "against the grain" requires us to go in exactly the opposite direction that everyone else is heading - disciples of Jesus are looking for opportunities to be servants - to express a servant-heart attitude.
We see this in Mary because in vs.38 she calls herself a servant and in vs.39 and 56 we see her demonstrating that attitude. Several months into her pregnancy she travels on foot to help her cousin Elizabeth in the final months of her pregnancy.
This wasn't just a card or flowers, this was cooking and cleaning and washing kind of help (while she herself was going through her own pregnancy). Mary was pleasing to God because she had a desire to help and serve in the way help was needed.
-She didn't know the song, "Make me a servant", but she knew the lifestyle --which is more important.
· Service is always inconvenient, it always cost something that's why it's against the grain --- but it's the way God weeds out those who are for Him from those who just say they are for Him.
- Those who are just singing the song from those who are living it !
3. Mary was submissive, serving and most of all she was a woman who Searched the Scriptures.
I want to read to you a beautiful prayer that she made when she met her cousin Elizabeth:
46And Mary said:
"My soul exalts the Lord, 47And 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,
55As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever."
- Luke 1:46-55
Do you realize that every passage here is a quotation from the Old Testament. Mary knew the Scriptures, she was mature in the word
I think we are a little confused when we discuss the role of woman in the church:
- God has appointed the men to lead in public worship and serve as the shepherds of the church. This is in harmony with the creation and the need to provide order and structure in the body.
- Somehow we get the idea that women/girls need less to know the word. Like that's something men need to know because they lead prayer and teach mixed groups.
We need to remember that the soul has no sex, the human soul needs to be fed in order to survive. The church can't grow if only the men grow in wisdom and knowledge --- women must also grow in wisdom, knowledge, spiritual power so that they two:
- can protect against false ideas
- share the gospel
- know God's will for their lives
- teach their children, family etc.
- find comfort and courage in the word.
Why Mary? Because Mary knew the word and so she knew who God was and could relate to what was happening to her without disbelief or going crazy. Only a person who knew the word understood about angels, the promise of the Messiah, God's power and the proper response.
Mary responded properly and secured for herself a place of honor for all of eternity because she knew the word.
Summary / Invitation
Don't get me wrong, Mary wasn't perfect. Not all of her children believed (James only believed after Jesus' resurrection.) And she was not a very visible or dynamic disciple while Jesus was alive.
But she had the qualities that God could work with to help her grow: She was obedient, willing to serve, and she was open to His Word.
In the end, God's choice of her to be the mother of Jesus was justified:
- She accepted the will of the Lord in having this baby even though it meant public humiliation.
- She stayed near the cross of her son even though nearly all had run away out of fear.
- She was in the upper room with the Apostles after Jesus' ascension --- a place that was dangerous to be in at that "time".
Mary wouldn't exactly match the model being promoted by the media concerning young mothers of today. But God isn't looking for that model.
He's looking for a woman who can go against the model of this world in order to be the woman of God for our day and time.
- If the Lord came searching here for that woman - would He find her ?
- If the privilege of being the mother of Jesus was offered to the women of our day - are there some here who could, like Mary, respond with a submissive, serving and searching heart ?
- If the answer to this last question was yes --- then praise God because the Lord has all kinds of ministry opportunities for women who are obedient servants seeking His will.
- If, however, the answer is no --- then why not ? What stops you from being like Mary? What hinders you from being God's woman?
Whatever it is --- the blood of Jesus Christ can make you worthy, as a single woman, as a married woman, as a mother, regardless or your marital situation.