Mary: The Faithful Mother of the Messiah

In Bible/Theology, Blogs, Devotional by Steve ConoverLeave a Comment

One of my favorite family traditions at Christmas is gathering around the tree and reflecting on the prophecies of the First Coming of Jesus. When my children were young, we made ornaments with key passages of Scripture and hung them year after year as an annual reminder. One of the most striking passages is Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

Just as Bethlehem was “little” and lacked the prestige many would consider a worthy birthplace of the Messiah, the family He was born into was also unexpected by human estimation—unless we consider how much God valued Mary’s and Joseph’s character and humble, immediate response to what He was about to do. 

In my previous article, I focused on Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. Now, in the season when the First Coming of Jesus is broadly celebrated, let’s look at Mary’s life and how her faithfulness and character both glorified God and were sovereignly used to bless the world.

The Miraculous Message

As we saw with Joseph, here we see the remarkable interplay between the divine intervention of the sovereign God of the universe and Mary’s reaction. God orchestrated events, and Mary responded with faithfulness and great character to what He was doing.

God orchestrated events, and Mary responded with faithfulness and great character to what He was doing.

Imagine how young Mary, engaged to Joseph, might have felt as the words of the angel Gabriel washed over her: “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). The angel’s appearance troubled her as she sought to make sense of the announcement (v. 29). Gabriel told Mary not to fear. He repeated that she “found favor with God” (v. 30) and gave her the thrilling and surprising details of how her life was about to change: 

You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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 (vv. 31–33).

Seeing an angel and hearing him speak would be jarring enough, but realizing what Gabriel’s proclamation meant for Mary, her husband, her family, her people, and the world would have been awe-inspiring.

Humble Faith

This isn’t the first announcement given by Gabriel in Luke’s Gospel account. Earlier in the same chapter, Zacharias, the elderly priest who ministered in the Temple, did not believe Gabriel’s announcement of the birth of his son, John (Luke 1:20).

Unlike Zacharias, Mary was ready to trust the Lord no matter how incredible the angelic announcement sounded or what it might cost her reputation and standing in society. Mary asked how she could be with child since she was a virgin (v. 34), but she did so with reverence and humility, saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). 

What a beautiful response! If we had to guess if it would be the unknown young woman or the revered and well-educated priest that met the Lord’s spectacular announcements with humble anticipation, we might have expected it to be Zacharias, the priest with great knowledge of Temple matters. But it was Mary, not Zacharias, whose heart was immediately bent toward God in humble adoration with childlike faith in her heavenly Father and the mighty things He would do.

Trusting Beyond Our Understanding

Just as David the shepherd boy might have been overlooked as a worthy prospect to be king when compared to his physically impressive eldest brother, Eliab (1 Samuel 16:6–13), Mary was capable in that all-important moment in time to find her dependence on God and not what she could understand. Like David, she evidenced her character and unwavering trust in God. 

Zacharias did not respond in faith but with a questioning heart. However, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Mary’s heart responded with worship, and her confidence was not in what she could see but in the Word of the living God whom she loved and to whom she devoted her life.

In a moment with great personal risk of reputation, Mary’s faithful response to God was immediate. Before she broke into her famous and beautiful words of praise (Luke 1:46–55), Mary must have heard these words from Elizabeth while she was filled with the Holy Spirit: “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Am I, like Mary, ready to take God at His Word, even when circumstances are beyond my comprehension, responding to God’s greatness and sovereignty over my life?

I don’t want to be too hard on Zacharias. I can’t imagine how I would respond if I stood before Gabriel, trying to comprehend what I was experiencing, but I do ask myself: Is my response to what God is doing in my life immediate or do I question Him? 

This Christmas season, as I celebrate God’s faithfulness, love, and wonderful plan of redemption, am I focused on what I can see with limited understanding like Zacharias? Or am I, like Mary, ready to take God at His Word, even when circumstances are beyond my comprehension, responding to God’s greatness and sovereignty over my life?

I invite you to ask yourself the same question. Maybe start a new family tradition of reading the magnificent prophecies that Jesus wonderfully fulfilled in the Gospel accounts surrounding His First Coming. And, as you reflect on God’s promises, remember that He can be trusted to work in and through you (Philippians 2:13), whatever your circumstances, as you respond in increasing faith and take Him at His Word. 

To read “Joseph: The Selfless Father of the Messiah,” click here.

About the Author
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Steve Conover

Steve is the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Media Ministries for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

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