Mary Worship (Part 4 of 4)
By Dr. David Reagan
During this Christmas season, how should we deal with Mary, the mother of Jesus? Should she be worshiped or respected? Adored or ignored? Magnified or belittled?
For a fresh, fascinating, and biblical viewpoint, I was delighted to interview on Christ in Prophecy Pastor Glenn Meredith of the Brookhaven Church located in McKinney, Texas. Glenn is one of the most anointed and gifted preachers I have ever encountered, and so I am sure you will be challenged by the answers he gave to these questions concerning the adoration of Mary.
Should Protestants place more of an emphasis on Mary?
Dr. Reagan: The cover of the March 2005 edition of Time magazine reads, “Hail, Mary! Catholics have long revered her, but now Protestants are finding their own reasons to celebrate the mother of Jesus.” What are some reasons why we as Protestants should be putting some emphasis on Mary?
Glenn Meredith: For one, Mary is a wonderful example of a person who makes their life available to Jesus Christ. She was willing to trust His plan for her life, as should we. Maybe someone struggles with whether or not they can trust God with their life. They may already have a plan for their life, and they’ve got their own dreams, along with their own direction they want to travel. And yet, they know God wants them to travel along another direction, and are struggling with that reality. Well, Mary is a phenomenal example of a person who entrusts themselves to the Lord and looks openly to learn what God will do through her life.
Dr. Reagan: What a tremendous trust Mary demonstrated! Here’s a girl who’s probably 13-14 years old. She is legally married under the Jewish system, being betrothed, and that was considered to be legally binding, although the marriage wouldn’t be consummated for some nine months. A waiting period had to be endured before the betrothed could actually have sexual relations with her husband.
So, here’s this young girl who is approached by an angel, and he tells her that she is going to become the mother of the Messiah. Mary learns she is going to become pregnant. She must know immediately what that would mean in her First Century society. Total disgrace! Mary could be stoned to death as an adulteress. And yet, she says basically, “Here am I. Do with me as you please.”
Glenn Meredith: During this betrothal period, Mary had been diligently preparing for that day when she finally moves in and lives with Joseph. She’s making her plans, as any young bride would do. She is excited, no doubt, about her future. She believes her life is all mapped out. She thinks she’s going to live in Nazareth, raise a family, and so forth. And then, all of a sudden, the angel shows up and everything drastically changes for her. The angel tells her she’s going to birth the Messiah. The Messiah! Young Mary suddenly is faced with a very difficult decision. To go through this would most certainly mean she was going to perhaps lose Joseph, her reputation, and her security for the future. Her family could even disown her. Joseph could legally kill her even.
And yet, as young as Mary was — 13-14 years old — her response was absolutely amazing! In Luke 1:38 she says, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”
Wow! What a contrast between her response to how Zacharias had responded just six months or so beforehand when he responded in disbelief. This young girl responds in tremendous faith. Mary stands out as a wonderful example of trust in the Lord. She says in Luke 1:38, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
Once Mary has placed her trust in God, we then witness throughout the Gospels how beautifully God begins to work through her life. To me, Mary is such an encouragement.
After Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, the Bible says she got herself ready and traveled to check with her elder cousin Elizabeth. This point is amazing! Remember, Elizabeth was married to a priest. If she had been pregnant as a result of adultery, it would have been Zacharias’ responsibility to see to it that his niece be stoned to death.
Since the Bible doesn’t say this exactly, I am going to engage in some educated guessing. I’ll use my imagination here. Mary is a teenage girl, so she still has to go to her parents. Timidly she tells them, “An angel appeared to me. He says I’m going to have a baby, and to top it all off, he’s going to be the long awaited Messiah.” And then she adds this, “But the angel also says that our relative, Elizabeth, is also expecting.” Well, Mary’s parents didn’t know this. Elizabeth and Zechariah lived some 90-100 miles away. Mail then wasn’t what it is today.
Mary then suggests she travel down and visit them. Certainly Mary didn’t travel by herself. Do you think her parents just said, “Well, fine, you’re a teenage girl, just head on down some 90-100 miles away?” No way! Somehow she traveled there, but I don’t think she traveled alone. Could it possibly be that her parents traveled with her? That they took her with them to remove their daughter out from under the Nazareth limelight as her condition began to become increasingly known?
Just imagine what a great confirmation that would be to a girl who said, “God has spoken to me and God is going to do this miracle with my life.” She took a step of faith and believed God. She plans on traveling down to visit her distant cousins. Her parents have to be asking, “What’s going on here?” Still skeptical, they walk into the home of Elizabeth, and Elizabeth greets Mary, and the very first words out of Elizabeth’s mouth is Luke 1:43, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Just imagine how for both Mary and her parents what a significant confirmation Elizabeth’s statement would have been.
Meanwhile, John the Baptist is performing somersaults in Elizabeth’s aged womb. He’s leaping about for joy, mysteriously knowing the Messiah had arrived.
Do we know who all traveled with Mary? I don’t know, but let’s just assume that her parents were there with her. They’ve certainly had some questions in their minds about whether their daughter truly was a virgin mother. But, first, they hear Elizabeth’s question. “Who am I that the mother of my Lord would come and visit me?” And, two, the old woman turns around and she is actually expecting! What the angel had proclaimed about Elizabeth was confirmed. And, so, God confirmed and encouraged this young, expectant girl. Her family support system solidified.
The Bible explains that Mary stayed there with her relatives for three months. Elizabeth, by the time of Mary’s visit, was already six months pregnant, so Mary stayed and saw the birth of John the Baptist.
During those three months, Zacharias had been walking around the house and not talking. This whole time he can’t talk due to the angel shutting down his voice. Zacharias motioned, or did whatever he could in order to communicate. The family and neighbors had been witnessing his forced silence. Once John the Baptist was born, Zacharias’ first words are in response to the question about the baby boy’s name. “His name will be John.” Mary witnesses all of these miraculous events. So, what an encouragement, and what a confirmation for Mary that she was living in God’s will.
Meanwhile, back at home, Joseph is trying to figure out what to do about his betrothed being pregnant. Mary doesn’t know what is going to happen with Joseph when she gets back. Obviously, he knows Mary is pregnant, and he’s had months to ponder whether he should divorce her quietly or have her stoned to death. He decides on a quiet divorce, desiring to not make a public example of her.
During her hiatus, she’s likely been thinking, “Perhaps I’ve lost both Joseph and my future. Who knows what he is going to do to me?” So, she travels back to Nazareth in trepidation. While she’s been gone, the very same messenger angel appears to Joseph in a dream. He proclaims in Matthew 1:18-25, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Dr. Reagan: Everything in the biblical account attests to the virginity of this young woman Mary. First of all, when the angel announced to Mary that she was going to become pregnant, she responded, “I haven’t known a man.” She knew how one had a baby. She responded that she didn’t know how she could possible get pregnant without a man.
Second, she runs to her relatives and shares the good news. In that day and age, how many young girls who were pregnant out of wedlock ran to their relatives in order to share the good news? They just didn’t behave that way in that culture back then. Now, we see it all the time, but back then, no way.
What seals the virginity of Mary to me is that the whole story was recorded by a medical doctor, Dr. Luke. We’re not talking about some shepherd who is caught up in myths or superstitions or whatever, but a medical doctor who knew everything about how a woman gets pregnant and delivers a baby. Dr. Luke confirmed Jesus’ birth as being from a virgin.
Glenn Meredith: What a beautiful love story! We don’t often think about it in this way. Picture Mary timidly traveling back to Nazareth. As she gets closer to the town, Joseph comes out to see her. Mary knows her life is hanging in the balance based on what Joseph is about to do. Stoning? Divorce? But then Joseph runs up and out of breadth says to her, “An angel appeared to me, and he confirmed you’re pregnant with the Messiah. I now know what you’ve been telling me all this time is actually true. The angel old me to name him Jesus.” Utterly relieved, she replies, “That’s what the angel told me to call Him as well.” She knows Joseph has now been added to her family support system. She’s not alone.
How can mankind be reconciled with God?
Dr. Reagan: The Bible tells us that all of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). That means everyone needs to be reconciled to God our Creator.
Glenn Meredith: An angel revealed to Joseph that he would call the baby’s name Jesus, for He would save His people from their sins. A heavenly host of angels later appeared to the local shepherds and they shouted, “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:8-20). This Savior will save His people from their sins.
Because of that great sacrifice of Jesus the Savior on the cross, today if you would admit that you are a sinner and that you need salvation, then you will be rescued from the penalty of your sins, which is eternal death. The Bible has declared to us that the only Savior is Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for your sins, was buried in a tomb, and three days later rose again from the dead, all so that you may be saved from your sins. The Bible tells us that anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
So, if you have faith, then today cry out to Jesus Christ and pray, “Dear, Lord Jesus, please save me from my sins and be my Lord and Savior.” And Jesus will do just that.