According To Thy Word
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” — Luke 1:38
The Story Of Mary
Every year, as the time of Christmas draws near, we are reminded of the marvelous story of the birth of our Saviour. What a joy it is to reflect upon God’s redemption plan. How awesome it is to look back upon those who played pivotal roles regarding the entrance of Christ into this world.
We consider Joseph, who, after being instructed by God in a dream, was willing to accept Mary as his lawfully wedded wife. He knew he would receive ridicule and that his life would forever be changed because of his willingness to do what God had asked. Yet he stepped out by faith, believing that God was the source of the child in his wife’s womb.
We remember the story of the wise men who believed that there was a king to be born as a result of their study of the stars. They too stepped out by faith.
We remember the shepherds and the host of angels that declared Christ’s birth.
But the focus of this article is the story of the young woman Mary. Protestants have a tendency to ignore her sacrifice and her faith, fearing to be included in the group that worships her, prays to her, or considers her a co-redemptorist with Christ. But we must not allow the error of the theology of others to persuade us against recognizing the fundamental role that Mary played in the birth of Christ. And she, like so many other persons involved in the birth of Christ, sacrificed greatly, potentially more than all the rest.
For love of God she released all doubts and fears and accepted her role as God both designed it and offered it to her.
Without elevating her to a status unbecoming to a human being, we should each and every one recognize the sacrifice and faith of this young girl.
The Word Of God To Mary
Some scholars believe that the knowledge of a virgin conceiving was common among young Jewish women. They indicate that they were influenced by Isaiah’s prophecy of a virgin conceiving (Isa. 7:14). Some believe that Daniel spoke of the “desire of women” as the desire of Jewish virgins to be the one used by God in the coming of the Messiah (Dan. 11:37). Whether or not this is true is still debated by scholarship.
Whether or not these inferences are factual, what cannot be denied is that Mary was a young woman dedicated to the Lord. Again, we are uncertain of her age but believe that she must have been in her early teens when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Marriage at that age was quite common in the Middle East. The Bible says that when the angel appeared, Mary was “troubled” by his salutation (Lk. 1:29). The angel reassured her that she had found favor with God. He then told her a truth that would forever change the world and everyone who had ever lived in it. He told her that she would conceive, bear a son, and call His name Jesus. Mary had the good common sense to ask, “How could this be? I have never had a physical relationship with any man.” The angel replied, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” He assured her that with God nothing was impossible.
Mary’s Response To God’s Word
The depth of understanding and acceptance of this word by the young Mary needs to be considered. In those days, if a maiden was found pregnant before consummating her marriage to a Jewish man, the law allowed for the stoning of that young girl. Mary was not just risking her reputation by accepting the Word of God, she was potentially forfeiting her life. Not only would she forever be ridiculed, looked down upon, and her virtue lied about, the acceptance of this Word had the possible result of bringing forth her death.
We can argue about whether or not she understood the Scriptures but every young maiden in Israel understood the law. She knew the conceivable results of what lay ahead. Yet she overcame any concern she may have felt for her own person and fully embraced the plan of God for her life. What a marvelous choice! What an amazing young lady this Mary had to have been. Despite all of the negatives, she proclaimed, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
What Is Our Response To God’s Will And Word?
Let us consider the action and faith exhibited by Mary in the face of the unknown. She placed her whole life, her hopes, and her dreams into the hand of God. She submitted everything that she was and everything she had ever dreamed about to the will and purpose of the heavenly Father. What an example!
As Christmas time rolls around again, let us take time to consider the sacrifice of this young lady. Let us also ask ourselves if we are willing to submit all that we are to the plan and will of God for our own lives. It seems that much preaching we hear today is telling believers that God has a plan to make us great: We are destined to be the top in our field; we will be the best in the business; our ministries will touch the entire world. But the reality of it is, for the most part, no one in the world will even know our names.
But our names can be revered and spoken of in God’s kingdom. That is, if we will but surrender our hopes, our dreams, our ministries, and our wills to the Word and purpose of God for our lives. Let us say, as Mary did, “Behold the servant of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy Word.” Amen!