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What did Mary know? What did God know about Mary? 12.19.23


This past Sunday, I read a meditation as part of our church Advent service, and it fits beautifully with our Morning Briefings regarding prophecies of Jesus. “The words of the prophets were glimmers of hope in the gathering darkness.  Like streaks of lightning across the night-time sky, they illuminated the landscape for a glorious moment before the darkness returned. 

Then there was silence: four-hundred years without a prophet; four centuries without a godly king; generations who wondered if God would ever walk with his people again.  And then at last, out of the silence he spoke.

The angel of the Lord came down from on high to greet a woman, barely more than a child.  “Greetings,” he said, “the Lord is with you, favored one.”1

After so many years of silence it all came down to this. Could this young woman be the central character in God’s next act of salvation?  Could she carry the weight of the world’s deep longing in her womb?  Could she possibly be the bearer of God’s promises?

Like Abraham on the heights of Mt. Moriah, so Mary in the stillness of her room received the promise of God.  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”2 In faith she received.  By faith she obeyed.  And according to his faithfulness God provided.  

Overpowered by the Spirit of God she received the living Word in her womb.  The Son of David was coming to claim his throne.  The heir of Abraham was coming to bring his blessing.  The child for whom a whole nation had longed and prayed was coming – not to conquer but to suffer, to die and to save.”3

Come with me as we take a closer look at Mary’s response to the angelic announcement which split the years of silence.  Bear in mind that Mary was probably 13 or 14 years of age when Gabriel came to her in Nazareth.  And yet she knew that in an instant her life had changed forever—she was to give birth to the Son of God. 

What kind of woman did God choose to birth the Savior of the world? Huh--I wonder if we have thought long enough or perhaps even well enough of her, just why she was chosen by God.

It is worthwhile to note that Mary responds to Gabriel's news with a question.  ‘How can this be?’  But then she trusts God with the answer she receives, incredulous as it is, and then Mary believes and obeys.  

She believed that what the angel said to her was from God; it was real, and it was true.  Looking closely, hers was an informed belief that was part spiritual hope, because like all God-fearing Jews, she awaited the promised Messiah. Hers was another part strong trust in God, and then she possessed courage well beyond her years.  Mary’s faith was based on the truth of Scripture.

Having cherished these things in her heart, Mary responded in worship to God—

Now pay close attention because Mary does a remarkable thing in these verses:

“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.”4

In this soulful response, some have called it a song, Mary prayed back to God the words of Scripture.  Friend, this has direct application to you, where you might not have previously seen it.  In this passage, Mary quotes at least 15 scriptures, including Hannah’s words to God when he answered her prayers for a son, sending the prophet Samuel to her.5 Young Mary prays the words of Davidand Isaiah, Micah and Job. 

Indeed, she was a remarkable woman - a one of a kind chosen woman of God. Mary is the only person who was there at Jesus' birth and his death. We learn from Mary that she highly valued the scriptures, enough so that she somehow studied and memorized them, worshiped by praying God’s words back to him.  I have taken the first words that Mary sang to the Lord and made them my own in prayer the last week: 'My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior... he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name!' I memorized them and made them a part of my mornings.

Mary was chosen because she was humble, prepared, strong, faith-filled and courageous.  Hmmm, perhaps we can all be a little more like Mary.

Found this song about how Mary might have felt as Jesus' mama: "Give Me This Night",

By Faith,


1 – Luke 1.28-30

2 – Luke 1.38

3 – from the pen of our rector, Dr. John W. Yates, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Raleigh

6 – Psalm 35.9, Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation.  I love this!

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