Friday, August 26, 2011

Women Walking Upright Bible Study

Women Walking Upright

Mary: Blessed Among Women

Mary was the chosen mother by God to deliver the Messiah to a fallen and broken world. She was a close relative to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Luke 1:36 The exact nature of their relation is never mentioned.

She was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter and a righteous man, at the time that she became pregnant with our Lord and Savior.

Her betrothal to Joseph was a legal engagement known as kiddushin. This engagement could only be broken by a divorce Matt 1:19

Of the women we have studied so far, Mary is the first that was not in a place in life where she was yearning to be a mother; she wasn’t even married yet. Each previous woman desired greatly to give birth to a child and each woman hoped that she would be the one in which the promised Messiah would be delivered through; yet this privilege was given to Mary.

This privilege was something that caused much disarray in Mary’s life. Scripture clearly states that she was still a virgin at the time that she became with child. Luke 1:27

Mary was visited by an angel and her life was forever changed. She was told that God had chosen her to carry the Redeemer, yet she had never laid with a man. The outcome of this this pregnancy would cause a great scandal in town. Luke 1:28-35

Although Mary had undoubtedly never been touched by a man, the world would think otherwise. It is impossible to just “become” pregnant without knowing a man intimately.

Even Joseph upon hearing the news thought the worst of Mary. Imagine his heartache at hearing his beloved fiancée was pregnant and he knew that he could not be the father.

Scripture tells us that he loved Mary so much that he did not want to make a deal out of the situation and cause her any humiliation. He wanted to quietly divorce her; but the angel visited him as well Matt 1:20-21

Mary without question submitted to the will of the Father regardless of what the world would do to her. She knew the scandal that had just been brought upon her; but without hesitation stepped into the role that God was calling her to.

There’s no scripture evidence that she ever complained or brooded over her troubles; she unconditionally loved God and happily did as He called her to do.

After becoming pregnant Mary left to stay with her cousin Elizabeth; not out of shame for her situation but to rejoice with a close relative whom herself was embarking on a miraculous birth—one foretold by an angel. Elizabeth had had trouble conceiving and Mary would most likely have wanted to share her joyous time with someone embarking on the same path. They were both about to give birth to miraculous sons; one who would do a great work in the other Son’s name.

Elizabeth’s reaction confirmed in Mary’s heart everything that the angel had foretold. Luke 1:41-45.There is no mention that Mary sent word that she would be visiting Elizabeth or about her circumstances, yet she knew nonetheless.

Mary’s response to her pregnancy is known as Mary’s Magnificat (Latin for Mary’s first outpouring of praise). It is truly a hymn about the incarnation. It is undoubtedly a praise of joy and an outpouring of love and as we studied last month is similar to Hannah’s praise in regard to Samuel’s birth.

It is filled with messianic hope, scriptural language, and refers to the Abrahmaic covenant.

It is fair to say that Mary had an understanding of the Word of God being that it is so similar to the praise that Hannah gave; of which Mary had a true understanding of.

God is the only one that Mary magnified. She praised and glorified God while making mention of her complete unworthiness—this is absolutely necessary for each of us.

She praised Him for His attributes; His goodness and His power.

It is a praise that is deep and from the heart. She had to have been just consumed by love for He who chose her. She confessed her sinful state and knew the mercy and grace that He was pouring upon her lowly head. She knew firsthand that she was being saved from her sinful life. Mary understood that she was not chosen to be the mother of the Messiah for anything she had done well in her life. She accepted her fleshly existence and owned it. Mary was not chosen by God because she was somehow a better woman than any other. It was His grace bestowed upon her; the same grace He freely gives to any that accept Him.

It is baffling to think that Mary is exalted to a higher place than Jesus by so many.

The Catholic religion exalts Mary to such a high place that they believe one must actually pray to her as a mediator before God and it is she that grants forgiveness. Catholic dogma teaches that she was taken bodily to heaven where she was crowned “Queen of Heaven”. She has become a mediator or intercessory. People pray directly to her and never acknowledge her Son whom was given by the Almighty Father.

It is Mary’s Son, not Mary herself, that is the fountain of grace. This worldly idea of Mary is contrary to Scripture and is actually rebuked by Christ Himself. During one occasion during His ministry a woman in a crowd raised her voice and yelled, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which You nursed.” Jesus replied, “On the contrary, blessed is he who hears the word of God, and observes it.” Luke 11:27-28

There are even people that claim that she remained a virgin, which again is contrary to Scripture Matt 13:55. Matt 1:25 sheds light on the subject stating that Joseph only withheld being with his wife until her firstborn entered the world.

Once Mary gave birth to Jesus, Scripture speeds through much of Jesus’ life. Mary is only depicted in 3 scenes.

The first was at the wedding in Cana when Jesus performed His first miracle, turning water into wine. John 2:3

The second, when Jesus was being sought after so strongly to perform miracles that He didn’t even have time to eat or drink. Mark 3:20

And finally, at His crucifixion. She had to have had an inclination that this day would one day come. Jesus spoke many times of His impending death.

As Mary watched her eldest Son die, strangers screamed profanities at Him, ridiculing Him and accusing Him of crimes He never committed. If anyone knew the sinless life He had lived it was the mother who had witnessed His life.

Mary had spent her life nurturing this man, loving this man, not only as her Savior, the Messiah, but as her beloved Son; whom she carried within her womb. No one other than God Himself could have loved Him more than she. The grief she must have faced had to have been heart wrenchingly painful! She had to stoically stand by as her firstborn Son hung on a cross to die like a common sinner. A man that knew no sin allowed our sins to be heaped upon His head; and she had to watch as the promise was fulfilled.

She exhibited superior grace and courage during those trying moments. The only support she could give her beloved Son was to stand at His side as He took His last breath. She could not assist Him in His work; He was bearing the sins of the world. But, she stood as a mother caring for her child.

Mary was the best mother she could be to Jesus, aiding him when she could; but most often it was He who aided her. Most notably was right after His death and resurrection. Jesus spotted Mary standing with a group of people including the beloved disciple John. Jesus acknowledged His relationship with this woman whom had cared for Him throughout His entire life on earth. John 19:26-27 describes Jesus’s last interaction with His mother, setting up care for her for the longevity of her life. His last earthly act was to ensure that His mother would be cared for.

Mary was Jesus’s earthly mother, and He her eternal Lord. She understood their relationship and embraced it.

She bowed to His heavenly authority.

Mary never claimed to be or pretended to be anything but a lowly maidservant used by God to deliver His people. She accepted this role and willingly stepped onto the path He laid out for her.

God equipped her for the task He had called her to; she was not called because she was equipped in any way. When we take note of this we allow Him to equip us for any work He has for us.

Of all the women in the Bible she is absolutely used in the most extraordinary way because of her unique role as mother to the Redeemer. But, she was not extraordinary because of anything of her own doing; she was extraordinary because He used her in an extraordinary way for an extraordinary work. Mary humbled herself and was granted grace because of her humility.

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