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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Mary, the Mother of Jesus—Luke 1:26-38

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Six months after the mission of Gabriel to Zacharias, God sent him on another errand.

Gabriel's mission was to a virgin, named Mary, betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and his lineal descendant. (Luk 3:24-32.) The angel's salutation was abrupt and unprepared:

"Hail, thou that art highly favoured (or endued with grace), the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." The thought that she was, or ever should be, anything remark-able had probably never so much as crossed Mary's mind. She must have been one of the most lowly‐minded, one in whom a God‐wrought self‐renunciation and self‐forgetfulness were marked features; and such a salutation as the angel's would be received by her with unqualified astonishment. Who was she to be blessed among women?

Did Mary fear that she was deceived, and that, after all, her visitor was no angel from heaven, but a deceiving spirit? "She was troubled," greatly troubled, and "cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be." There are some who take as a matter of course any of God's gracious visitations; who count themselves worthy of His favour and think themselves wronged if they have not conscious and enjoyable communion with God. Mary was not of this number; she was crushed with the sense of her nothingness, and the angel reassured her:

"Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found grace with God." (R. V.)

No man can approach God but through grace. Heavenly messengers never flatter. The song which the angels in heaven sing with the redeemed is, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." (Rev 5:12.) The grace of God in His redemption through Jesus Christ is the wonder of God's whole creation. "Thou hast found grace" was more to Mary than could have been any praise for what she was, or for what she did; grace glorifies God, not man.

The angel revealed to her a wondrous calling:

"Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end."

Perhaps there never was a Jewish woman who had any claim to be called pious, in whose heart the longing to be the mother of the Messiah had never found entrance; and now this humble Jewish maiden stood before this wondrous announcement that she was


After generations of her Jewish sisters had been passed by, the Desire of all nations, the Sun of Righteousness which should arise with healing in His wings, "the Lord our Righteousness," the Star which should arise out of Jacob, and the Sceptre out of Israel-should be her Son! It was more than Mary could conceive. The honour to which she was called crushed her.

In her ingenuous simplicity, Mary asked the angel how this should be.

"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," was the angel's answer.

It began slowly to dawn upon Mary what should be the cost. To be honoured of God would mean to be misunderstood by man; to be the mother of the Messiah meant to be a mother without being a wife; how explain her position? She must learn the most definite confidence in God in whom she trusted. This greatest honour involved the greatest sacrifice that a godly woman could make.

But so it is ever: when God calls His children to be living sacrifices, they have to live counter to the traditions of the world, to all the preconceptions of fellow Christians, and to be really "hid with Christ in God." (Col 3:3.) Joseph would not understand her; her own parents would not understand her; her friends and relations would not understand her; it would be a living death, but it would be a means of bringing life eternal into the world.


was called for in Mary, and she looked steadily at the position which was placed before her. Only one thing was lacking, and that was her acquiescence. She could not help her God, but she could yield up her will in full view of all it should cost her. Laying herself as a living sacrifice upon the altar, she said:

"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word."

But in His tender love, our God gave Mary one precious token of sympathy in revealing to her His grace to her cousin Elizabeth, saying: "She hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible"-or, "For no word from God shall be void of power." (R.V.)

Days passed by, and the time must come when the great secret which had been told to Mary must become known. What would become of her character? How could she explain herself? How could she make others understand Gabriel's announcement to her? O, how wonderfully God cares for His own! When we trust Him, He takes all in hand, and never leaves us in an impossible position. Just when things were at their worst, and Joseph, her betrothed, "being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily," the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, explaining to him what Mary could never have explained.

"Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."

O, how easy it is for God to disentangle His own, and to justify them before those in whose eyes justification is necessary. We may well trust such a God and such a Shepherd with our name, our reputation, and all our concerns, for He is faithful unto death.

And, moreover, the angel told Joseph:

"She shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins."

Joseph knew well that the vision was a heavenly message to him: his obedient spirit yielded to the voice of the Lord, and he took Mary under his protection as his wife. And thus God provided for His trusting child just the shelter and the shadow which her circumstances so peculiarly needed.

O how safe it is to trust our God! O how sure is every step when our Lord leads us, and how utterly senseless it is to make provision to defend our own character when One who is so much higher can do it better than we can! Let it be the motto of our lives as women: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to Thy word." Our difficulties may be great in our home life; husbands, sons, daughters, servants, visitors, may misunderstand us; but when we walk with God, we can trust Him to make our way, and to bring all our loved ones to understand us just when the critical moments arrive.

Elizabeth—Luke 1. ← Prior Section
Mary’s Song of Praise—Luke 1:39-56 Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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