Little Lady, Big Plan

(Read Luke 1:26-38 (NLT).)

Mary Had a Little Lamb (Christmas version)

~ Author Unknown ~

Mary had a little Lamb, He was born on Christmas day.

She laid him in a manger bed To sleep upon the hay.

Angels filled the night-time sky And they began to sing.

Shepherds heard them all proclaim The birthday of a King.

Wise men saw a blazing star Up in the sky that night.

They followed it until they found The King of love and light.

Mary had a little Lamb, But He wasn’t hers, you know,

He was the very Son of God, The One who loves us so.

The Father of this little Lamb Loved the world so much

That He sent his only Son to earth So we could feel His touch.

He came to give us joy and peace And take away our sin.

So when He knocks on your heart’s door, Be sure to let Him in.

Why do I love this precious Lamb? What can the reason be?

The answer is quite plain to see, It’s because He first loved me!

(“Mary Had a Little Lamb (Christmas version)” retrieved from http://www.empoweringchristianwomen.com/2007/12/mary-had-little-lamb-christmas-version.html.)

The little lady had a big SPIRIT .

          Luke tells us more about Mary than the other Gospel writers. Let’s examine what we can learn.

1:27+34 = She was a VIRGIN. This is the most important fact about Mary.  The Bible makes it very clear that Joseph is in no biological way the father of Jesus.  The birth of Jesus was supernaturally accomplished, a fact that establishes His nature as divine, His identity as the Son of God.

1:27 = She was ENGAGED to Joseph.  Joseph provided a name and home life, protection for the baby, and was a man who obviously nurtured Jesus, teaching Him his trade. Though his role was a supporting one, Joseph was nonetheless essential for God’s plan.

1:28 = She was a FAVORED WOMAN.  Let’s remember the purpose of the Gospels is to tell us about Jesus.  What we can learn about Mary serves that purpose. Even though she was a peasant girl in a neglected corner of the ancient world, she had found great FAVOR with God.  That reflects favorably on her moral character; it also reflects favorably on her spiritual life.

This does not, however, justify making Mary some sort of super-saint or demi-god.  She was a woman whom God chose for this task.  Being chosen doesn’t necessarily prove that the person was the most qualified in any sense that we can observe; God picks people to do His will on the basis of what He knows.  Favor is bestowed, not earned.

1:28 = The LORD was with her.  This may have been the most encouraging thing Gabriel said to Mary.  In effect, he said, “All will be well; God is with you to protect and empower you.”  The Apostle Paul would later write, FOR I CAN DO EVERYTHING WITH THE HELP OF CHRIST WHO GIVES ME THE STRENGTH I NEED. (Philippians 4:13)  That sounds a great deal like verse 37 as well.

1:38 = She was faithful and obedient.  This is seen in her own words:

  • “I AM THE LORD’S SERVANT”
  • “I AM WILLING TO ACCEPT WHATEVER HE WANTS”
  • “MAY EVERYTHING YOU HAVE SAID COME TRUE.”

In that moment Mary could not have grasped all that this decision would mean to her.  But that’s what makes her an even better example of faith; she took God at His word and trusted Him to handle the details.

1:46-56 = She was humble & faithful to see the personal implications of what she’d promised.  She referred to herself as “HIS LOWLY SERVANT GIRL.”  SERVANT is a polite translation; t word means slave!  LOWLY means “humiliated.” She used strong language, suitable to conveying deep conviction.  Mary’s devotion to God is not diluted by ego or self-interest.

“GENERATION AFTER GENERATION WILL CALL ME BLESSED” Her cousin Elizabeth had, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, just blessed her (see 1:41-45). This meant that Mary understood and appreciated her absolutely unique place in history and in God’s unfolding plan.

“HE’S DONE GREAT THINGS FOR ME” is written in the past tense, so I speculate that Mary is looking back at her life prior to Gabriel’s visit and concluded she had already been blessed.  But it’s also clear that Mary is thinking about the angel’s promises and she counted it an honor to serve the Lord in this way.

2:19 = Mary remembered what the shepherds said about Jesus.  More than that, she TREASURED them in her HEART.  These promises would be a sentimental and spiritual foundation to which she could return again and again in the years ahead, when the actions of God did not make sense to her.

2:35 = Simeon prophesied the grief she would feel at Jesus’ crucifixion.  When you consider all that had been said about Jesus – starting with Gabriel and the shepherds – and all He had done, the tragedy of the cross must’ve felt like unkept promises to Mary. I wonder if she recalled this warning at that time.  If it made any difference to her.

John reveals a little more information about Mary in the narratives of two incidents that bracket the ministry phase of Jesus’ life.

John 2:1-11 = Mary goads Jesus into performing His first miracle; water into wine.  Her method is indirect; she alerts Jesus to the problem and instructs the servants to do as He directs them.  And yet, despite the “stage mother” kind of approach, Jesus’ first miracle was for HER.

John 19:26-27 = She was at the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion; that took extraordinary courage, given Simeon’s prophecy 33 years earlier.

God’s big plan: our SALVATION.

          Gabriel’s words promise that her child will be the greatest man ever born.

1:32 = VERY GREAT is a paraphrase of the Gk word megas, which is familiar to us as a prefix.

1:32+35 = SON OF THE MOST HIGH.  This is a round-about way of saying “Son of God.”  “Son of” does not in any way mean less divine, it is to be understood as fully divine.  In ancient Israel, the phrase “Son of God” was also used to refer to the king.  So this phrase has both theological and historical meaning.

1:32 = THE LORD GOD WILL GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF HIS ANCESTOR DAVID.  David was seen as the ultimate king and the promise of an eternal throne was seen as being fulfilled by the Messiah.  This particular expression is unique to Luke’s Gospel.  It’s interesting that these items are found in the only Gospel authored by a Gentile.

1:33 = He shall rule Israel eternally. This too, is an expectation associated with the Messiah.

Mary understood that part of God’s plan involving her baby was nothing less than a new world order. She reveals this understanding in the song called “The Magnificat,” in vs. 46-56.

1:49 = HE, THE MIGHTY ONE, IS HOLY. “Mighty One” is also a term used for the rulers of Israel and for God.  Mary’s song emphasizes God’s power wielded on behalf of His people.

1:50 = HIS MERCY…GOES TO ALL WHO FEAR HIM. God’s MERCY specifically refers to the way He keeps the covenant even when His people break it.  He is always faithful; he does good to the undeserving

1:51-53 = He will turn the usual world order upside down to deliver those oppressed by it.

  • He SCATTERS T PROUD & HAUGHTY.
  • He deposes PRINCES to exalt t LOWLY.
  • He has SATISFIED T HUNGRY, but sent the rich away with nothing. (See Luke 16:19-31.)

1:54-55 = He will keep all the promises He made to His people.  Though the times may have indicated otherwise, God honored his promise and delivered His people.  His means of deliverance, a baby born to a peasant family, was not what they expected or desired.

Dave Berry, a popular modern humorist wrote, “You can always tell the Christmas season is here when you start getting incredibly dense, tinfoil-and-ribbon-wrapped lumps in the mail.  Fruitcakes make ideal gifts because the Postal Service has been unable to find a way to damage them.  They last forever, largely because nobody ever eats them.”

(Joyful Noiseletter, Nov./Dec. 2012, p. 4.)

As proof that Dave Barry wrote truthfully, consider the following tale of woe surrounding the world’s oldest fruitcake; 136 years old!  On November 28, 1878, (remember that date) Fidelia Ford baked a fruitcake for Christmas.  Not long afterward, she died.

The fruitcake was never eaten and has been passed on by Fidelia’s descendants, all of whom have died too.  The most recent inheritor of the cake was Morgan Ford, Fidelia’s great-grandson.  In 2003 Morgan was a guest of Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.  Jay dared to sample a bite and declared that it needed “more aging.”  Morgan ate some too.  Ten years later, Jay Leno had to turn over the Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon and Morgan Ford had died.  Draw your own conclusions about the wisdom of eating fruitcake.

How about something more lasting and more savory than fruitcake?  How about having the faith Mary has demonstrated?  What do we have here? A lady who was little in the eyes of the world – had the world taken notice of her at all – whom God chose to occupy a unique and pivotal place in the history of creation.  Mary is not to be idolized, but her example is one we can all aim to follow. After only a single question, maybe a moment’s hesitation, she chose to obey God’s will.  Mary didn’t sit around to estimate the cost; she quickly and unconditionally obeyed God.

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