Scriptures

Great New Testament People  

Introduction

Mary, Highly Favoured by God

The story of Mary begins in an obscure village in Galilee called Nazareth about 58 miles north of Jerusalem. She is betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David. A ranking angel, Gabriel, was sent by God to tell her she had

“found favour with God”

and would conceive and bring forth a Son, and he was to be called Jesus. This must have been a frightening experience for Mary.

She is perplexed and asks,

“How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Gabriel tells her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and thus she would conceive a child. Of all the women in Palestine God could have chosen, we might think it would be someone of prominence, a princess, the wife of a high priest, a well-educated person or a person from a prominent family but instead He chose a young peasant teenager.

Nathanael echoed the common belief of that day when he said in John 1:46,

“can any good thing come out of Nazareth.”

The belief of that day was that the Messiah would be born of a king, not a peasant. When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth she exclaimed,

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear.”

No less than Gabriel one of the ranking angels announced to Mary,

“Greetings, you who are highly favoured, the Lord is with you.”

But why did God choose Mary?

Part of the answer may be found in the response Mary made to Gabriel. All this would be difficult for Mary to comprehend for she knew she was a virgin. It would not be long until it would be obvious she was pregnant and people would begin to talk. Mary’s faith in God drove her to say,

“Behold the maidservant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

It is this humble submission to God without questioning why she was being asked to take on this most unusual responsibility. Humble submission is a trait that God greatly delights in.

Many great Bible characters that were called upon to meet great challenges tried to back away from what God wanted them to do but Mary was submissive, although the announcement made to her by Gabriel must have been mind boggling. At this early stage in her life she would not have comprehended all that would be involved. Mary was the type of woman who put her faith into action. She not only says,

“Lord, your will be done,”

but she also “hurries” to see God at work in the life of her relative Elizabeth. The journey to Judea was not a simple walk to the next town; it was a difficult journey requiring at least three days. Thus we begin to see why God chose her above all the other Jewish women.

Mary’s knowledge of the scriptures also impresses us. The burst of praise from her lips recorded when she went to visit Elizabeth reveals an intimate knowledge of God and the Holy Scriptures.

Luke 1:46–55 has been labelled

“The Song of Mary.”

“And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant, for behold, from now on all generation will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”

We may wonder how this young woman could speak such insightful words. This was a woman who deeply loved God to whom was given special understanding of what he was doing. As Mary journeyed from Nazareth to visit Elizabeth she would have had time to think about what she had heard from the angel.

For the next 33 or more years she would enjoy unparalleled rejoicing interspersed with indescribable sorrow. She would suffer the shame and humiliation of being pregnant out of wedlock. She would give birth to her son in a stable. She then would be forced to flee to a strange country to protect her son from an insane king. She would watch him grow up hearing strange things that came from his mouth, but she

“kept these sayings within her heart.”

Later she would watch him in his public ministry wondering how he had become such a great teacher. Ultimately she would stand under a Roman cross watching him agonize in pain and suffering for sins he had never committed. She would know the agony and grief of the dark hours following his death.

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Great New Testament People    

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."

Acts 18:11

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