Monday, March 19, 2018

Mary, What Did You Know?

December 15, 2007 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Mary, What Did You Know?
by Jan Ross

As I look at this picture, I am overcome with wonderment while considering the heart of Mary as she held her newborn son. As a mother, I can appreciate her love for her newborn, but the mixture of emotions she must have felt escapes my comprehension! What did she know? Did she know anything? What was she thinking? How could she dare to think this tiny babe in her arms would actually save the world from their sins!

The modern classic, “Mary Did You Know”, by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene challenges us to peer into the heart of a young Jewish virgin girl while contemplating Luke’s observation: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Here was Jesus; “a tender brow prepared for thorns, a tiny heart whose love will save us” held in the arms of a woman whose heart was pierced with the awesomeness of the tiny life she brought forth . . . “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”!

We don’t know exactly what Mary pondered in her heart, but here are a few thoughts that are worth some consideration.

Mary (Miriam in Hebrew) was a daughter of royalty, having descended from the lineage of David. Though poor and lowly in terms of worldly riches, she was esteemed by God. Her heritage, as well as all of Israel’s, had been carefully preserved by those who recorded each Jewish family’s lineage. The genealogical records were of great value to the Jews as they anticipated the fulfillment of prophecies concerning the coming of a Messiah.

Mary lived in Nazareth, a city of Galilee in a remote corner of the country. This region had no particular reputation for religion or learning but actually bordered on the heathen. Because of that, it was called “Galilee of the Gentiles”. Perhaps this was symbolic of the Messiah’s mission whereby the Gentiles would be granted salvation through His atoning sacrifice.

Mary was a virgin—pure, unblemished, and undefiled. She was espoused or betrothed to one of the same lineage—one of the same royal line. It was befitting that he shared her unlavish lifestyle, her low estate … there was equality between her and her betrothed. Perfect unity. Lineage, social status, family values. Mary and Joseph were suited for one another.

In Jewish customs of that day, betrothal was a binding contract , as permanent as marriage. The only difference between betrothal and marriage was they lived separately during the time of preparation for the actual marriage ceremony. The betrothed groom busied himself preparing the wedding chamber while the betrothed virgin prepared herself for her husband.

We have no record of what Mary was doing or where she was when the angel of the Lord appeared to her, however, I try to imagine such a visitation. What an overwhelming encounter! Mary could have been feeding the sheep when the skies lit up with the angelic presence. Or, she may have been hanging freshly washed clothing and linens on the line behind her house. Or, she could have been in her room studying over her Torah lessons that day. Perhaps she was carrying some fresh bread to a neighbor’s house. Or, maybe she was fetching water from the well. I tend to believe we don’t have specifics because our human nature would want to memorialize the activity or task she was doing or enshrine the location of the visitation.

“Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28)

Suddenly, Mary is surprised by such a greeting. Imagine her turning around and wondering if the angel was indeed addressing her! After all, she was humble, of low estate, and never considered herself as “favored”, let alone “highly favored”!

Considering her humble spirit, it would be easy to imagine her falling to her knees … after all, this was the hope of every young Jewish girl, especially those from the lineage of David!

“How could it be? How could I be the chosen one?” I can almost feel her questioning spirit groaning within her … “I’m not worthy of such an honor!”

And, yet, she was chosen, raised up for this very purpose! “Hail thou…!” A usual form of salutation expressing goodwill and prosperity. “Thou art highly favored!” God’s choice, a unique yet peculiar honor not shared by any other.

Mary, full of grace! This young virgin girl from the lineage of David had been granted grace above any before or after her—above Esther, above Hannah, above any woman in history. She was chosen to provide the seed of woman.

The Lord was with her. Can you imagine? She was to be in a “family way” with the Father, as the Son of God was being knit together in her womb. Not for her merit, not for her glory, but for the glory of God. She was highly favored as she willingly submitted to the Father’s will.

One has to wonder. Did Mary stop to consider what this holy calling might cost her? Had she studied the scriptures enough to understand what being the chosen virgin of Israel would require of her? Could she see the days of ahead? Rejection! False accusation! Jealousy! Hatred! Envy! Scorn! Ridicule! Fear! And, possibly losing the goal of every young Jewish girl … being married and raising a family. What would Joseph say? How would he react? Would he believe her?

Yet, she willingly submitted: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

As the days of her waiting were accomplished, she grew – not only in size but in faith as the Word of God was growing within her. The Manifestation of the angel’s proclamation became evident—more and more with each new day.

A young girl whose whole life had been spent in anticipation for her wedding celebration now facing challenges no other virgin in Israel had ever encountered. She gave up her dreams to focus on what she had been called to do—be the mother of the Messiah.

Is it no wonder Luke records Mary’s state of mind with such powerful words: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Angels. Changes in her body. Life growing within her. Joseph’s acceptance. Virgin birth. Angelic host. Shepherds. So uncommon, so unordinary. And Mary’s response was the same—uncommon and unordinary. Rather than telling the world what she had been chosen to do, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart!

We must ask ourselves … what would have been our response? How would our own ego and self-esteem survive such a holy calling? Would we simply and quietly treasure these things in our hearts, or would we tell the whole world that we were chosen by God with such a powerful anointing?

Mary’s response to everything that occurred teaches us all—men and women alike—a lesson worth learning. The deep things of God, personal encounters with the Spirit of God, times of intense presence … are they for us to capitalize on? Our generation has seen more gospel preachers and teachers using what Mary held sacred in her heart to proclaim their own fame abroad.

My heart is grieved when I tune in to Christian television or read Christian printed media. Much of modern Christianity has succumbed to the age old lies of the enemy—promote the creature rather than the Creator.

Mary found favor with God … that was all she needed. But, what is the motive of our hearts? Can we find satisfaction in the fact as blood-bought Christians that we have found favor with God? Is that enough for us? Will that satisfy us? Can we be satisfied to hold in our hearts the treasures produced by deep and intimate relationship with the Lord? Or do we feel compelled to noise our own fame throughout the world in order that we might gain some form of recognition, esteem or following?

Simply for a point of reference, let’s look at a few scriptures:

“And his fame went throughout all Syria …” (Matthew 4:24)

“But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.” (Matthew 9:31)

“And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.” (Mark 1:28)

You see, with Mary, it wasn’t about her. It wasn’t about what was going on in her life. She didn’t treasure how blessed she was or how highly favored she was. Her ponderings were about this tiny Life. It was about watching the shepherds and the wise men coming to adore the Child she had given birth to. It was about considering how this tiny King caused powerful kings to tremble. It was about a Mighty and Awesome God who sent His Only Son in the form of the tiny Babe she held to her breast.

Take heart, dear friends. Treasure your relationship with the Lord. Gather the nuggets that are produced by intimate relationship and hold them dear to your heart. Our first calling is to receive the Word of God, to nurture it and let it grow within us, and then hold onto the blessings that come from the overshadowing of the Most High – a truly deep and intimate experience.

Mary knew the babe in her arms was divinely and supernaturally conceived. She knew the angelic pronouncements were rightfully exalting God for the advent of the promised Messiah! She knew there was good reason to be still and hide what she knew in her heart . Yet deep within her spirit she was full of praise for Yahweh, not for her calling but for the Work of God called Jesus, the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.

We don’t know “how” it all happened with Mary. And, for good reason. It was personal. The result of her deeply intimate encounter with God would be known throughout the earth throughout the generations. Mary never sought her own fame nor did she seek the world’s accolades. We are amiss if we put her on a pedestal.

While Mary pondered the Child she bore, I pray we turn our eyes on Jesus as we celebrate the Word made flesh, the long-awaited Messiah. Let’s spread His fame abroad this Christmas season while we hide in our hearts the treasures that come from intimate relationship with Him. Amen!

Mary Did You Know

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will one 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 you kiss your little baby you’ve kissed the face of God.

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 will 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.

“Mary Did You Know?” (Mark Lowry & Buddy Greene
© 1991 Word Music/Rufus Music/ascap)

Jan Ross:

Jan Ross is an author, missionary, and piano teacher. As President and Co-Founder of Heart of God International Ministries, she longs to see the Kingdom of God established in the hearts and homes of people across the globe and seeking out to reach the lost, wherever and whomever they might be. Jan and her husband Ron make their home in northern Ohio. They are the parents of six wonderful adult children (Glen, Martha, Barbara, Andrew, Dana, and Deborah); they have thirteen incredible grandchildren. Ron and Jan are active in their local church; Jan leads a women’s Bible Study and teaches whenever the opportunity affords.

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