Few women from the Bible need introduction, least of all the one we’re looking at today. Mary is unique for many reasons. Unfortunately, that has led some people to hold her in such high regard that she’s even worshipped, prayed to, and relied upon (at least in part) as a means for salvation. She is indeed extraordinary. But only one person is worthy of worship. Nonetheless, she is worth honoring as a woman of incredible faith.
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:26-31 ESV
Mary, as the mother of Jesus, is the most well known female character in the Bible, and has been the best-known woman in the world since those days of the manger in Bethlehem. However, not a lot is known about her. We know that she was a virgin living in an insignificant town, and of no high standing. This made her a prime candidate to be used by God.
Many early scholars believe that Mary was between 12-14 at the time the angel came to visit her. It was custom for women to get betrothed and married at that age. In our current era and culture, getting married before you’re 20 is extremely uncommon and often met with a lot of speculation and criticism. So it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around Mary being so young. But youth, in God’s eyes, does not equal ineffectiveness. Can you imagine being 12 years old and being given news that you were going to be carrying and raising. the Messiah? That would be a huge task for anyone at any age!
Of course Mary was hesitant right? Well, nothing in the text leads us to believe that. In fact, Mary has but one question, “how will this be for I am a virgin?” I don’t think it would be correct to assume that Mary was questioning the LORD’s abilities. It’s a completely valid question. In addition, Mary accepts the angel’s response without another question or sign of doubt.
“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38 ESV
When we compare Mary to some other highly acclaimed figures of the Bible, her willingness to serve the LORD shines. Think about Moses and how he argued with God to avoid going to Pharaoh. Or Gideon and all the signs he needed. Abraham and reassuring he needed so much. Mary truly was special in her trust of the LORD. That’s not just awesome for someone her age, but for any age. However, it goes to show that age and gender are no boundary to faithful obedience to Yahweh.
It would be easy to imagine someone becoming extremely prideful when placed in such a position. But what we know from the text is that Mary never forsook her role as mother and servant. She raised the greatest person in human history and was there till the very end, at the foot of His cross. She gave birth in a stable, took her young family to Egypt not long after Jesus was born, and raised Jesus and His siblings on her own for part of her life. She undoubtedly had to endure ridicule and speculation surrounding Jesus’ birth and ministry. Her life had to be a hard one. Just as any life of faith is. But faith ushers us into a grander story. Just as it did for Mary.
Her faith motivates young and old to say, “here I am Lord. I will do your will, whatever it is.” Her faith inspires us to not make excuses or come up with reasons for our apathy. At any time, in any place, the LORD could come calling on us. Will we be like Mary and say, “I am yours LORD”? Her story should encourage us all to not shy away from the big callings on our lives but to be an open book who’s pages the LORD may write upon as He wills.
“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”” Luke 1:46-55 ESV
When God calls us, let’s sing songs of praise just as Mary did. For those of you who think of yourself as insignificant, whether because of age, location, or station in life, God’s eyes are on you and you’re exactly who He loves to use for great things.