In my studying this week for our upcoming Advent sermon series on the songs of Christmas from Luke 1-2, I have been thinking a lot about Mary, the virgin who would carry and bear “the One who created her,” (Augustine).
While there are some very good reasons why as a Protestant, I do not want to ever advocate for ascribing to Mary a more prominent or necessary role in the work of redemption (nothing less than the fact that she herself rejects such a position or posture of being a co-Redeemer with Christ or even a necessary mediator on our behalf to Christ; cf. Luke 1:46-55), I am utterly astounded at what she has to teach me about the nature of faith and growing in it as a follower of Christ.
She, a teenage girl, has a lot to teach me, a middle-aged man, about growing in the gospel.
Take for example the fact that when she goes to greet her cousin who is also with child, Elizabeth, she takes the praise directed at her and redirects it all back to God (Luke 1:39-55).
She is not concerned so much with herself as she is her God, her Savior, and her Lord.
Here’s a great quote from Jared C. Wilson in the new ESV Men’s Devotional Bible that sums up what I’ve been pondering and wrestling with this week in particular.
“Am I strong enough? Do I have what it takes? Will I be able to get ahead in the world and provide for my family? Will I be remembered? Does what I do matter in the long run?
Most men think about these things often, both explicitly in their worries and implicitly in their actions. And these are not, in themselves, wrong things to think about. But because sin is real and our flesh is always at war against the spirit, too often these areas of concern become ares of self-concern. We have in mind with these questions our own name and renown, our own glory.
In Luke 1:39-56 we find these very issues in play, and what can be humbling for the Christian man is to see that we learn their proper context and proportion from a teenage girl!
Mary has been blessed with the greatest blessing anyone could ever receive – to bear the Messiah, King Jesus, in her virgin womb. She knows that she will, from this moment on, be considered blessed by future generations. And yet, her song of praise is not to or about herself – it is about the glory of God.
When she examines herself, she sees only lowliness, poverty, weakness. But when she sees herself in the light of God’s grace, she sees his glory, his riches, his strength working through her song of praise: ‘His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation’ (v. 50).”