The Example of Mary

Jul 30, 2022 | Writer's Blog | 1 comment

Mary, mother of Jesus.

Sometimes I’m just not sure what my attitude toward her should be. As I wrestled with this recently, my question to the Lord was, “How do You view her?” His response pointed me to the annunciation—the angel’s pronouncement to Mary that she would be Jesus’ mother. As I studied the angel’s declarations, I found myself wanting to emulate Mary. She’s an inspiring example!

I don’t recall ever hearing Mary held up as a model for patiently holding on to God’s unfulfilled promises. But look at her life! As a teenager, she encounters an angel who gives her the incredible news that she’ll have a baby who will be God’s son. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,” is the angel’s promise[1]. But did she ever see these promises for her son fulfilled? No! Year after year, decade after decade, Mary never saw Jesus on David’s throne, reigning as promised. In fact, her son’s life—and death—unfolded quite differently than the picture painted by this pronouncement.

And did she ever receive the honor she must have been expecting as the mother of the king? After all, the angel told Mary that the Lord was with her and even called her “highly favored one”[2]! Mary’s hope for admiration is evident in her Magnificat, which includes the line, “From now on all generations will call me blessed.”[3]

But the only person in the Bible recorded to have called Mary blessed is Elizabeth: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”[4] Oh, and there was also the unnamed woman crying out from the crowd around Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”[5] But even if Mary was present to hear these words of esteem, her moment of glory was quickly squelched by Jesus Himself: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” No, no honor for Mary. It’s more likely that, because of the unique circumstances of Jesus’ conception, scorn was heaped upon her instead. Everyone around her would have assumed that she’d been promiscuous. So here’s another expectation that was never fulfilled in her lifetime.

There’s no Biblical record of how Mary felt about all this, but we do know that she held on, treasuring all these things, pondering them in her heart[6]. Mary was Jesus’ mother and His disciple. She kept following Jesus all the way to the cross[7] and beyond[8]. Mary’s steadiness and tenacity—even when God’s promises went unfulfilled for decades—provide an example I want to emulate.

Here’s another thing I admire about Mary: she’s a type of firstfruits of what it means to belong to Jesus and be filled with His Holy Spirit. Look at what happens during the angelic announcement that Mary would be the mother of God’s Son. The angel calls Mary “highly favored”[9] and tells her that Holy Spirit would “come upon” her[10]. The Greek words[11] for “highly favored” and “come upon” both point to our identity and destiny as sons and daughters of the Most High. And Mary was the first one to experience God’s touch in this way.

Let’s look at the word for “highly favored”: charitoō / χαριτόω. It means “to grace” or “indue with special honor.” This word is used only one other time in the entire New Testament:

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved[12].

Some of the other translations express it like this:

· “To the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” ASV

· “The glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” KJV

· “The celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son” The Message

· “He greatly endeared us and highly favored us in Christ.” The Mirror Translation

· “The glory of His grace, with which He favored us in the Beloved” NASB

· “His glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” NIV

· “That glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son” Phillips

First Mary, and now you and I get to experience this lavish outpouring of God’s glorious grace and favor.

So how did that grace “come upon” Mary? Eperchomai / ἐπέρχομαι includes the ideas of arriving, occurring, impending, and even attacking. It’s a vivid, active word that implies an unforeseen action with unexpected results. Among other places, eperchomai / ἐπέρχομαι is used in Luke[13] to describe the strong man being “overcome” by someone stronger who divides his goods. It’s also used to describe the end times, with men fainting with fear and expectation of what’s “coming upon” them[14]. James described the miseries that would “come upon” the rich when they see their wealth corrupted and standing as a witness against them[15]. Who wants any of those things to “come upon” them?!

But eperchomai / ἐπέρχομαι is also included in Jesus’ final words to His disciples, just before He ascends to heaven: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[16] Mary was the first one to experience the Holy Spirit coming upon her. Then she was among the disciples when the Spirit’s “mighty rushing wind” fell at Pentecost[17]. And now this infilling is part of our rich inheritance as followers of Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for Mary’s example of faithful tenacity when promises aren’t being fulfilled, and her receptivity to Your lavish, gracious Holy Spirit. Please strengthen me as I seek to walk in Mary’s footsteps.

~ Kathryn Kircher, writer, https://sojournerkathryn.wordpress.com/
~ Natalie Ziemba, artist, https://www.nataliekzart.com/

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Luke 1:32-33
[2] Luke 1:28 KJV
[3] Luke 1:48
[4] Luke 1:42
[5] Luke 11:27
[6] Luke 2:19
[7] John 19:26
[8] Acts 1:14
[9] Luke 1:28
[10] Luke 1:35
[11] The Greek definitions and references are based on Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong, published by Abingdon Press (1890).
[12] Ephesians 1:5-6
[13] Luke 11:22
[14] Luke 21:26
[15] James 5:1
[16] Acts 1:8
[17] Acts 2:1-4

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Carol Snider
Carol Snider
4 days ago

I really like the piece about Mary. Her story is captivating and invites me to grow . . .

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