Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Christmas: Blessed Mary

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas: Blessed Mary

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 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: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, 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. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-38).

“Blessed art thou among women” is God’s statement about Mary the mother of Jesus. Because of all the false beliefs taught about Mary, many pulpits have become silent about her. The word “blessed” is not intended to bring worship to Mary. It simply relates the high favor of God upon her life in that she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah (not the Mother of God). Although she should not be worshipped, she must have been a remarkable young lady.

Obviously, her family was a godly one. Her older cousin Elisabeth was chosen to give birth to the first prophet in 400 years (Luke 1:36, John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Christ). Why did the Lord choose Mary? Was she some kind of super-saint who lived a life of sinless perfection? No, she was just a fine young lady who loved the Lord with great commitment and dedication. We know that is true from the text we have just read (1:38). She is a tremendous example of what God can do with any young lady completely dedicated to DOING the will of God.

According to Luke 1:26, Mary lived in the village of Nazareth and was engaged to be married to a carpenter by the name of Joseph. Nazareth was an unremarkable city in the history of Israel. The Scriptures (and much of history) were silent about Nazareth. Even after Jesus began His ministry, the city of Nazareth was the hardest and most of its citizens rejected Jesus as their Messiah.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. . . 28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,” (Luke 4:16-19 and 28-30).

The fact that she was not yet fully married, tells us she was probably a very young girl between 13 and 15 years old. Although she was a Teenager, by today’s standards, her daily routine would have involved all the things of an adult woman in that her culture viewed her as an adult at that age. She would have spent her days carrying water, cooking, cleaning and taking care of a household and small children. She would have worked from sunup to sundown.

Like any other young lady about to be married, she probably thought about her pending marriage and her future with her new husband. She thought about living in her own home and having her own family. In the middle of all these plans, an angel of God appears (1:26-28).

Mary’s life was going to have a major interruption. That is always what happens to a life when God calls a person to His service. Her plans were going to have to take the sidelines for a while. Her life was going to change drastically. That is often the case when God calls someone to be used for special ministries (like pastors or missionaries). Although she had plans for her life, God had other plans (since God does not force His will on anyone, He would give her the choice, 1:38).

Mary would become the one woman (out of the thousands of thousands of women before her) who would actually bear the Messiah (Luke 1:30-33). Did that make Mary the Mother of God? No, God is eternal and without beginning or end. Mary was one of God’s created beings. She cannot be the mother of her own Creator.

She is called the mother of Jesus in the Bible. Never is she called the Mother of God. She would be the means through which the eternal Son of God would step out of the glory of eternity and into time and humanity of a fallen Creation. The genetic humanity of Jesus came through Mary (the sin nature is passed seminally through man, Romans 5:12). Jesus has a beginning in history at His conception. Before that He eternally existed as the Son of God. Jesus is His Name in His union with mankind through birth.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5).

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).

There are some people who teach that Mary (like Jesus) was immaculately conceived and (also like Jesus) was born without a sin nature. If Mary was immaculately conceived that would mean she would be God’s daughter, with no earthly father. Scripture tells us this was not so. This is due to a misunderstanding of two verses of Scripture; Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23.

“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16).

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,” (Luke 3:23).

In Matthew 1:16, the father of Joseph is listed as “Jacob.” In Luke 3:23, Joseph’s father is listed as “Heli.” Did Joseph have two fathers? No, the genealogy of the gospel of Luke is Mary’s. As was the custom, Joseph is stated as the head of the household. Joseph became the son of Heli by marrying Mary. Heli was Mary’s father.

If Mary was immaculately conceived and sinless, she would not have needed a Savior. Yet she acknowledges her need of a Saviour.

“And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47).

Was Mary a perpetual virgin as some people teach? No, the Bible does not teach that. In fact, it teaches that she was not.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till {assumes a later time when he did} she had brought forth her firstborn son{assumes a second-born}: and he called his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24-25).

Jesus had (half) brothers and (half) sisters.

2 Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 4 For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. 5 For neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:2-5).

The Greek word used for “brethren” is adelphos (ad-el-fos’). The meaning is from the same womb. Although this word can be used for brethren nationally or brothers and sisters in Christ, the statement of John 7:5 clearly states these “brethren” were unbelievers. Matthew 12:46-50 also gives addition clarification to the meaning.

46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).

Jesus had four half brothers and at least two half sisters.

1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him” (Mark 6:1-3).

Is Mary another Mediator between man and God as some people teach? No, Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man. Yet, Roman Catholicism contrary to the clear testimony of Scripture, teaches the Mediatrix and Coredemptrix of Mary

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

No where in Scripture is anyone told to pray to Mary. In fact, we are not even told to pray to Jesus. We are told to pray to the Father through the Son (our Mediator).

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9).

“For through him {Jesus, our Mediator and High Priest} we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).

Just because of all these false beliefs about Mary exist, that does not mean she ought to be an embarrassment to Bible believing churches. She is a remarkable example of dedication and discipleship. The mother of Jesus gave up the life she had planned for herself to be the servant of God.

After hearing this announcement by the angel Gabriel and understanding the ramifications of this pregnancy, she still consented to God’s will for her life. That means she consented to the will of God knowing that she would face the possibility of losing her espoused husband and the life she had planned. That means she consented knowing that she might face public humility, shame, ridicule and possibly death by stoning for being pregnant before she got married.

Yet in face of all that she says, “be it unto me according to thy word.” God would give the world Jesus through the virgin Mary to one day die on the Cross to pay the death penalty for the sins of mankind. That is God’s supreme example of giving to mankind.

Mary is the example of the sacrificial presentation of our bodies as a ‘living sacrifice.” Mary gave herself to the Lord’s will so all that did happen could happen. That is a supreme example of mankind’s giving to God. That is the kind of giving that should be the testimony of every Christian’s life. Have you given your life to Jesus in that way?

Can you honestly say with Mary, “be it unto me according to thy word.” That is a decision and one God wants every Christian to make. Have you consented to God’s will being done in your life? Give your life to the Lord this Christmas.

Just tell him, “Lord, whatever You want me to do, I will do it. If You want me to be a preacher, I will try to be the best one I can be. If You want me to serve You in some foreign land as a missionary, I will. If You want me to serve You in my local church, I will serve You with all my body, mind and will. I will try to be the best Sunday School teacher, soul winner, King’s Kids leader, deacon, piano player that I can be. Lord, I will no more give you second best. Here is my life Lord. I give it to you to use twenty-four hours a day.

When you give your life to the Lord, there are no areas of that life that do not belong to Him. Your life, and every moment of it, is a living sacrifice dedicated to doing the will of God. That is what Paul pleads with every Christian to do.

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

These verses are not for a special elitist group of spiritual super-saints. This is God’s expectation of ALL believers. Is your life a living sacrifice to serve the Living God? That kind of life is defined as “service” (Romans 12:1). That is defined as separation from the world and unto God (Romans 12:2). It may cost you your plans for the future, but it will bring you into God’s plan for the future.

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