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Mary Did You Know? Mary Knew a Lot!

 

Star of Wonder, Star of Light

 The Christmas Story

The Christmas story is recorded in the books of Luke and Matthew. A woman by the name of Mary is presented to us in chapter one of these books. She is surrounded in miraculous happenings—never previously experienced nor envisioned on the earth.

The most renowned of the miraculous, is she, a pure virgin, who has walked in all chaste behavior, was called to bear a Son by the power of the Most High. Her child would walk as Almighty God Himself on the earth, and would be called the “Son of God;” Luke 1:35.

If we travel backward a few verses and read Luke 1:30, we recognize Mary is a woman whom God has been watching, a remarkable girl, who is precious in His eyes. She has proven herself to be godly—for she has “found favor with God.” This exclusive message came to Mary through the angel Gabriel. She, no doubt, knew of Gabriel through Scripture. It was the angel Gabriel who revealed the promised Messiah in Daniel 9:21f. The message proclaimed to Mary regards Christ’s millennial rule upon the earth, as future King. Nothing is stated here regarding the church age. Mary, being a Jew, knew of Messiah’s future reign and this is what the angelic message addressed. This delivery delves into the fact, Christ is born of the seed of David—Mary was a descendant through David’s son, Nathan; Luke 3:23f. I find this ever so interesting, knowing the Messianic rule is what we now look towards, when His righteousness rules the earth for a thousand years; Revelation chapter 20, Zechariah chapter 14, Psalms chapter 2, etc. (One of the reasons I believe Mary found favor with God, is she knew the Scriptures and applied them. She loved the written Word, and we will see this as we move further into the unraveling events. Mary knew a lot!)

Mary, being told, she as a virgin, is to give birth to God’s Son, is a hard pill to swallow. Therefore, Gabriel informs Mary of her relative, Elizabeth; verse 36. She knew her relative was old and past child-bearing age; yet, she too was to miraculously give birth. Mary was not alone in this time of miraculous works. Gabriel reminds Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God,” verse 37, concerning Elizabeth’s astonishing conception. Mary is totally assured of God’s power to perform mighty works of allowing a woman to bear past her time.

She recognizes that such a tremendous miracle didn’t cease with Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as disclosed in the book of Genesis. A similar statement of assurance was given to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18:14, where God asked, “Is anything two difficult for the LORD?” The God of yesteryears is the God of today. We must not walk in smallness of faith. Faith is the glorious victory in overcoming all doubt.

God ministered to Mary with just the right prescription. He knows how to heal any Scriptural doubting we may hold. He can move beyond what we ask or think.

God opened the way of comfort for Mary through Elizabeth so she would not feel alone in this unusual situation that could prove to be most embarrassing. God is all able to bring people into our lives who can assist us through the deep roaring seas of tribulation where we need faith and endurance to face today and tomorrow. We also know as Christians that no person can minister to us like the Lord, as 1 Peter 5:7 discloses. He oversees every one of His children as a guiding Father who is omnipotently superior to any earthly father … this is why we cast all our cares upon Him.

There may be times when God will separate us from others so we can learn total dependence upon Him. I have been here and I know how important this lonely painful lesson is. No matter what our circumstances, we can always personally feel His presence, as we seek Him through prayer and the Scriptures that hold all the answers.

Verse 38 is most remarkable, revealing Mary’s total heart of submission … so unlike Elizabeth’s husband. Though Zacharias was godly, he lacked the submission and faith found in Mary. Mary replies to Gabriel, “May it be done according to your word.” This is what we all should say when it comes to applying God’s Word! We are not to be women’s libbers, but women who love all the inerrant Bible and long to apply it without question. What a witness for us to keep in mind. We must not walk in smallness of faith.

Mary most likely held great excitement in her heart knowing she was the fulfillment of prophecy. She was the virgin spoken of in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Mary was the woman whom every young Jewish maiden desired to be. The one to bring God, in man form; rightly set, at the right time, on His revolving, sinful, lost globe. This is too incomprehensibly miraculous for us to totally grasp.

Mary’s quick response in faith to Gabriel’s words concerning Elizabeth, displayed she held no doubts concerning what God could do. She arose to travel to Judah, in a hurry; verse 39.

The details involving Gabriel’s next task is found in Matthew 1:16-25. This involves Joseph’s part in the holy advent of Christ’s birth. In Matthew 1:16 Joseph is called Mary’s husband. This is before Gabriel came to Joseph with the miraculous news. This is because they were married in decision, but had not joined together—being united under one roof through consummation. The engagement period in Israel represented a marital vow, not to be broken, unless adultery occurred. We see from John chapter 2, that the Jews engaged in wedding celebrations and Mary and Joseph had not partaken in their own.

(Many will say Jesus was mocked for being illegitimate by the religious leaders as seen in John 8:41. I do not believe this; I believe the Pharisees were just trying to justify themselves before Christ by relaying they did not come from an act of fornication. They did not live where Jesus lived nor desired to go to this mocked land of Nazareth. They seemed to assume He was born in Nazareth, observing they called Him a Nazarene, therefore they were quite ignorant. The religious leaders did not appear to know of His birth which occurred around 30 years previous in Bethlehem, nor of the miracles surrounding it, which proved Him to be God-man. Never do we witness this discussed among them. If Jesus was known as being of fornication, why was the family completely welcomed into the Jerusalem temple after Jesus’ birth? Why weren’t Mary and Joseph ridiculed and put out? Instead Jesus Christ was highly praised as the promised Messiah! This temple time included miraculous prophecies regarding Christ, and Mary was the subject of one of them. Plus, Mary was completely respected by Zacharias the priest, Elizabeth’s husband, who served in this temple. He knew of the miraculous, virgin conception of Christ.

Jesus, as an infant, was transported to Egypt by His parents as Herod wanted Jesus dead; and, of course, so did satan. God’s directives came by way of two dreams to guide the paths of this young family. Both dreams were angelic warnings. The first cautioned regarding Herod’s murderous plan to eliminate Jesus; whereby, they were instructed to flee to Egypt and stay until the LORD directed their return. The second angelic warning proceeded Herod’s death, when Joseph was directed to return to Israel but not the Judea area, where Herod’s vile son reigned in his stead. The religious leaders never kept tabs on this unknown infant, though phenomenal happenings surrounded His life.

When the people from Christ’s hometown speak of Him, they say isn’t this “the Carpenter’s son” and “his mother called Mary;” Matthew 13:55-56. They do not state, this is Jesus, the son of Mary, and we do not know who His father is. Additionally, the religious leaders were not shy, and would have made open declarations of His illegitimate birth. They were always attempting to pin something on the Savior and this would have been a significant disclosure. This, of course, would have brought scorn to Mary too; yet, nowhere do we note her being treated disrespectfully.)

Only God knows the timetable on all the nativity events perfectly. No time, in hours is actually provided concerning Mary leaving for Judah and the time needed in preparation. It is possible that she married Joseph before her departure. The Holy Spirit was to overshadow her and it seems she would not depart until she knew for sure she was pregnant through this miraculous way. God wanted Mary to enter into the marriage covenant so she would not suffer disgrace as an unmarried pregnant woman. The LORD graciously sent Gabriel to Joseph, being He totally cared for the ordained plight of this godly daughter of Israel. Joseph, somewhere in this story, obeyed God and took Mary for his wife. We see in Scripture, Joseph did not desire her disgraced as well.

Mary left her home to go and be with one of kindred spirit. Elizabeth was family, united with God and phenomenally pregnant. Mary knew Elizabeth had an open heart and home, and she could go there any time and be received in love.

God spoke the way through Gabriel or she would not have known of God’s other little baby miracle in fetal development. Isn’t it interesting that God chose to have John born of a woman whom Mary loved and respected. … an actual relative?

I sincerely believe that Mary’s family stayed with Elizabeth when they came to Jerusalem for the various feasts of holy days. They probably thought it an honor to stay with a priest who served in the temple. Mary seemed to know Elizabeth well, acknowledging there seemed to be no question concerning her going to her home unannounced.

Elizabeth was into her six month with her miracle child at this time. John was six months older than his cousin Christ Jesus. Why did it happen like this? Perhaps so Elizabeth could encourage and minister to Mary. At least, this is what I believe. She was a godly older woman who could comfort this young gal holding a child within, she being pregnant too through an act of God.

Mary is reassured she is loved when she is welcomed by Elizabeth and John. This is wondrous fulfilled prophecy we read in verse 41. Remember, Gabriel informed Zacharias that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit while in Elizabeth’s womb. John leaped in the womb when Mary arrived. What a small bundle of large comfort for Mary. This certainly reveals the ways of God that are beyond full grasping.

I wonder if Mary and Elizabeth studied the Old Testament passages together concerning the Messiah since they were both aware what Mary was caring the fulfilled prophecy—the Messiah. Elizabeth was impregnated with the Messiah’s forerunner.

Mary knew the Scriptures well and she may have already held all the passages in her heart concerning the Christmas promise. She was a knowledgeable woman who rested in God’s Holy Scriptures. In Hebrew, Messiah means “anointed one.” Christ translated means “anointed one.” Jesus or Joshua means “savior.” Christ Jesus equates “Anointed Savior.” God is the only holy anointed one, never being subject to sin. Many have been anointed to perform God’s will in Scripture such as prophets, priests and kings, but they were not holy anointed God. Our “Anointed Savior” is the only one who can cleanse us from our sin by His precious blood.

Obviously, God has revealed much to Elizabeth, seeing she knows Mary is carrying her Lord God; verse 43. She also knows Mary responded with belief when the angel came to her, verse 45, as she says, “Blessed is she who believes what was spoken to her by the Lord.” What is humorous about all this, is her godly, priestly husband did not and she knows it! She is excited to have one in her midst who did not question the messenger from God Almighty. Now … don’t get me wrong; I have no doubt, Elizabeth was a godly, submissive wife who did fully respect and love the man God gave her. Their marital relationship certainly was preordained of God, corresponding Sarah and Abraham’s.

Verse 46 begins Mary’s psalm, her exaltation of God in canticle form. She rejoices in the LORD, her Savior, as His humble bond slave. We learn from this verse, Mary walked in the absence of pride and arrogance. She was filled with godly humble attributes.

Mary also was given insight to know that every generation will count her blessed and isn’t that what Christmas is much about. The knowledge of her privilege of birthing God Himself is going forth into every new generation, being highlighted every nativity season.

She continues in offering praise for the attributes of God—His omnipotence (being all-powerful), His omniscience (being all-knowing) and His omnipresence (being everywhere present). This involves Him performing great and mighty acts as overseer of all. She mentions His holiness and mercy that stretch from generation to generation. She includes His ability to scatter the proud and to bring rulers down. She stresses His ways of exalting the humble ones and bringing food to the hungry, while sending the rich away empty-handed. She concludes with the fact He is well able to assist Israel and stay faithful to her descendants.

What does this tell us of Mary? Well, … that she was an intelligent, educated lady. She knew the Word of God. She sought to memorize it as she quotes Old Testament passages, many from the Psalms. People state, women from this era were untaught and stupid. Mary reveals just the opposite. She obviously grew up in a home where God was revered by her mother and father. She was instructed in the Word of God thoroughly. This should not surprise, as we witness the wisdom of Elizabeth who was her relative. Elizabeth was clearly intelligent and educated too. This type of fervent caliber was probably evidenced throughout Mary’s family. Mary was reared to be a godly, wise woman. Many women in the Old and New Testament were wise and intelligent; some held mighty power.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth three months. This means Mary probably stayed for the birth of John, as Elizabeth was into her sixth month of pregnancy when Mary traveled to see her. She had to come a distance, approximately 100 miles. There were no cars and paved thoroughfares then, so more time must be added to John’s womb incubation. Elizabeth may have been incubating John for six and half months when Mary arrived.

It would make sense that Mary stayed a short time following the birth to assist. Since Elizabeth’s relatives, (of course, Mary’s relatives as well) rejoiced with her at the birth of John; verse 58, it is possible that Mary’s mom traveled down to celebrate, and then took her daughter back to Nazareth. However, it must be noted nothing is stated concerning Mary’s mother and father being participants during this maternal time. Only God knows if they were presently alive. We do know Mary had one or more siblings as her sister, Mary, (holding the same name) was at the tree of crucifixion when Christ died for all; John 19:25. She was the wife of Clopas or Cleopas, and Jesus appeared to His uncle, Cleopas and possibly His Aunt Mary, too, following the resurrection as disclosed in Luke 24:13f. I personally believe He appeared to both His aunt and uncle when they beckoned Him to come into their home. (Observing all of Christ’s loving relatives in the Gospels, we acknowledge He had a remarkable, loving  family, all courtesy of God’s miraculous hand. This family was full of miracle blessings.)

The wonders of this entire setting of miracles are completely beyond what we can grasp in our finite minds. There is so much going on behind the scenes of this astonishing true tale.

We note at the beginning of chapter two of Luke, a census was to be taken “of all the inhabited earth.” What a span to cover! This was orchestrated by Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. Rome was the ruling empire at this time and it oppressed Israel who looked toward a Messiah that would deliver her. God had another plan, however. Messiah would not rule Israel or the world until much later, when He would return a second time. Christ will at that time bring forth His fiery wrath upon sinful man beyond what we can even begin to comprehend until it is actually unleashed. Mary and the Jewish population were aware of Messiah’s coming judgment and the setting up of His kingdom whereby He will rule with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken; Psalm 2:7-9, Revelation 2:26-27, etc. The Jewry could not comprehend His first arrival as a servant and brutal death for the sins of mankind. God did bless Mary with the prophetical information of her Savior’s death, so disclosed to her through Simeon. Simeon explained to her that a sword would pierce her own soul (Luke 2:35); but she did not take it to heart until it actually was thrust through—her tender heart, broken in two at Golgotha.

It is interesting to note, verses 34-35 were only directed to Mary, not Joseph. Joseph passed on sometime before Christ began His ministry. Verses 36-38 speak of godly Anna, a pure, modest woman who after being widowed, spent her life serving the LORD. And God blessed her with prophecy, as well, concerning Jesus the Messiah, whom she was able to behold in infant form.

We see three women in this story, whom we can imitate, when it comes to chaste, pure, holy behavior—these who were solely dedicated to the Lord.

Looking further into the census situation, we read in Luke 2:3, everyone had to register in their own city—the city within the tribe of their heritage. If you turn in your Bible, to the back, in the map area, you should locate a map of the divided land of Israel. It will show you the divisions according to the 12 tribes of Jacob, minus Joseph and Levi, but including Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim … much too much to go into now. There was a designated city for each tribe to register. (If you have no detailed Bible maps regarding the land division, you can locate maps on the Internet.)

Joseph and Mary were of the tribe of Judah, so Mary had to return to this southern area of Israel again. Remember this is the general location where Elizabeth and Zacharias lived. Mary traveled from Nazareth with Joseph to a different city, this time—Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem. Elizabeth obviously did not reside in Bethlehem, as they had to locate a place to stay.

We do not know for sure, but Elizabeth and Zacharias may have visited Mary and Joseph after Christ’s birth, since Jerusalem and Bethlehem were close in proximity. Remember the temple was in Jerusalem where Zacharias served as a priest though they lived somewhere outside of this area. He obviously had to travel home when not officially ministering in the temple; Luke 1:23.

In verse 6, we observe that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a lowly manger area or in a type of primitive barn where the animals were lodged as there was no room in the inn for this unique couple. Jesus lived a life of a humble servant for mankind, and there was no better way to represent this but through this lowly birth that shone as the bright light that led the wisemen to His location.

Christ’s growing up years with Jude, James and His other half brothers and sisters are silent; they are not revealed to us as God saw no significance in us knowing of these.

Christ placing Himself in this family is fulfilled prophecy, acknowledging Joseph would have been on the throne reigning as king and not holding a simple carpenter position if the kingly line of David had not been made void at the time of the Babylonian captivity. When Babylon invaded Judah, this ended the Davidic line of the reigning kings. According to the Davidic lineage, Christ had the right to the throne of David through Joseph, being his first-born son—adoptively speaking that is. Joseph’s family ancestry traced back to David is disclosed in Matthew chapter 1. As Joseph’s first born, Christ would have reigned as king, succeeding Joseph. (See Luke 1:32, Revelation 5:5 & 22:16 and Isaiah 9:7, concerning the prophecies of the Davidic Messiah.)

As God, the Creator of all—Colossians 1:13-19, Christ holds the right to the throne in all aspects.

Viewing Elizabeth’s age, she could have been Mary’s blood aunt. Both Elizabeth and Zacharias were of the line of Aaron, the priestly line; Luke 1:5. Zacharias was “of the division of Abijah.” The Abijah line was of Aaron which we confirm from reading 1 Chronicles 24:1-10. Ezekiel 44:22 states a priest can only marry a virgin or a widow of a priest. It was very important that a priest and his wife be above reproach—they represented the righteousness and holiness of God.

Elizabeth and Mary’s chaste and dedicated attributes should be taught to young girls. They were not flirtatious and immodest, but shamefaced. Joseph and Zacharias’ chaste, dedicated, loving, and sacrificial attributes should be taught to young men.

God recognized this exceptional couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, held obedient hearts for Him alone. They walked blamelessly, not allowing the world to influence them in any evil manner; Luke 1:6.

Christ would have received priestly blood from this family line of Mary’s. Remember Christ was king, priest and prophet on earth. God appointed prophets; therefore, it was not an inherited calling. Of course, Christ is God and therefore our priest by all authority, which is the only true and eternal power. Christ is priest according to the order of Melchizedek because He has no beginning or end; Hebrews 7:9f. He is our only priest because He is omnipotent God; therefore, there is no need for a blood-inherited vocation.

We see God the Father’s great love in putting Christ in a family that was probably the most devoted to Him in all the Holy Land. God the Father made sure His Son was loved, protected and heard His truths. This would, of course, have been Christ’s truths as well. Christ moved in the Old Testament as part of the Godhead, teaching His Word, which godly men recorded.

May your Christmas be filled only with the truths of God’s Word, nothing worldly, nothing false, nothing that takes away from the moral chastity of this event that compares to none other.

Val Lee  (1 John 5:10-13—the Bible)   paradise

(Photo © Val J. Lee)

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December 1, 2008 - Posted by | Christmas, Manger Story, Mary and Joseph, Mary Did You Know? Mary Knew a Lot!, Religion, Scripture, Uncategorized | , , ,

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