Series 10


(Scripture Portions: Luke 1:26-55; John 2:1-11)

This first study in the series is of special significance, for several reasons.

  1. It concerns the Virgin Mary. She was the one whom God chose to be the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4); the one who was to bear the seed (Genesis 3:15); the one who was a virgin (Isaiah 7:14); the one in whom the Saviour was miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost, without the co-operation of a man (Matthew 1:20).
  2. The scripture narrative has a good deal to say about Mary. Like John the Baptist (John 3:30), who introduced the Lord, Mary fades out of the picture, except for a few brief references and the fact that she was present in the upper room (Acts 1:14). In the Apocrypha there are stories about Mary, and later, tradition invented other stories, but these are unproven and are therefore rejected as being unreliable.
  3. Her character was very beautiful. The scriptures reveal this (Luke 1:28,30), and we know it must have been so for God to set such a great honour upon her.
  4. Romish errors and exaggerations abound. In her teaching, this church has raised Mary to the position of a female deity in holding to the dogmas of her Immaculate Conception, her Perpetual Virginity, her Bodily Assumption, that she is a Mediator between God and men and a hearer of prayer, etc.
  5. In Protestant thought, Mary has been neglected. In this study we want to centre our thoughts upon this highly privileged woman, and in order to do so we shall trace the scripture references to Mary which show her chief characteristics.

1. We first read of Mary in connection with the announcement made to her by the Angel Gabriel that she was to become the mother of Jesus.

Read this wonderful portion of scripture – Luke 1:26-37. Mary lived in Nazareth, a small town which was a notoriously wicked place – look up John 1:46. She was a virgin and was engaged to be married (Matthew 1:18). In Luke 1:26-37, we read of the announcement which the Angel Gabriel made to Mary, and verse 38 tells us of Mary’s faith in God and her submission to His will. Notice the six “wills” in verses 31-33. Some of these prophecies have been literally fulfilled, and others await literal fulfilment. Notice also Mary’s very natural question in verse 34, and the angel’s answer in verse 35. There is a great spiritual truth enshrined here. How can we be born again?…sanctified?…or how can we effectively serve God? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit – look up John 3:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3 and Zechariah 4:6. A great honour was bestowed upon Mary, but think of the misunderstanding and suspicion which would surround her! To do the will of God often involves this – look up 1 Corinthians 2:14. Notice how wonderfully the angel concluded his announcement – see Luke 1:37.

2. After the Annunciation, Mary left Nazareth and went to the hill country to be with her cousin Elizabeth.

Read about this in Luke 1:39. Poor Joseph! One cannot help feeling sorry for him – but the Lord graciously undertook for him, as we learn from Matthew 1:18-25. Elizabeth rejoiced at Mary’s news and said a very significant thing – look up Luke 1:45. (There is great encouragement here for those of us to whom the Lord has spoken concerning something He is going to do in or for us.) Not only did Elizabeth burst into a song of praise, but so did Mary – see Luke 1:46-56, and particularly notice the last two words of verse 47, which indicate that Mary was a sinner needing a Saviour.

3. The next reference to Mary is in connection with the birth of Jesus.

Read Luke 2:6-7. After the birth of the Lord Jesus He was visited by the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20), and in due course by the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12); and concerning all that Mary saw and heard we are told that she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Then came the naming of the child and the performance of the Jewish rite (Luke 2:21); then the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15); and at last there was the return to Nazareth where for twelve years Mary devoted herself to training and nurturing her child, who “grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40). Parents, please turn to Proverbs 22:6.

4. Mary and Joseph took Jesus, at the age of twelve, to present Him at the Temple at Jerusalem.

Read Luke 2:41-52. When they lost Him, they found Him “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). Notice the interesting wording of Luke 2:48 and 49: “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you…” Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” Here is the full recognition that God was His Father in a unique sense, and that He was His Son also in a unique sense.

5. Mary was present at the wedding at Cana, when Jesus turned the water into wine.

Read John 2:1-11. It was Mary who announced that the wine had run short. Our Lord’s reply to His mother seems to us abrupt, but it was a term of respect and it indicated a change in relationship and that He was now no longer subject to her (Luke 2:51). Mary’s faith and obedience shine out very beautifully in her statement recorded in verse 5.

6. Mary was present at the Cross of Calvary.

Read John 19:25-27. There she stood and watched her first-born crucified as a common criminal, (and here was the fulfilment of Simeon’s prophecy – Luke 2:35). Suddenly Jesus looked at her and spoke to her (verse 26)…and then he looked at John and spoke to him (verse 27). We are exhorted to honour our parents (Ephesians 6:2). What was the significance of our Lord’s words? His work on earth was completed, and John was to have the immense privilege of caring for Mary for the rest of her days on earth.

7. The last mention of Mary is in Acts 1:14.

Only at Pentecost did she fully understand the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus. It is only there, when we are enlightened by the Spirit of Truth, that we too can understand these deepest of mysteries.

Let us ever be grateful for the honour which was bestowed upon Mary when she was chosen to be the mother of our Lord. Truly, all generations of the Lord’s people will call her blessed – look up Luke 1:45 and 48.