The Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary is the Lord’s highly favoured one (Luke 1:28), is kindly regarded by Him, and each generation should call her blessed (v 48). Some Christians over-value her, but Protestants often under-value her and we shouldn’t for the following reasons:
First, she shares her DNA with God! Jesus was of the very DNA of Mary, formed by the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t beamed into her womb; biology was at work. Jesus and Mary likely had the same eye and hair colour, smile, ears and posture etc. They were deeply connected physically and spiritually as a family, and Mary would have had personal stories of her child too precious to even share with the biographers.
Thus, Mary grounds the humanity of God – and it matters! Christians are to be spiritual in a very human way. Any piety which is disconnected from people, distant, non-corporeal, or which allows for us being ghastly around those at home, church or work isn’t anything like Mary’s child. The Son of God was/is like His mother: human. He faced very human issues in a very human way, and he carried our very human sins.
Second, Mary helps enlarge our view of Jesus. There are real parallels between Mary and the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant – the place where Jesus, the Angel of the LORD who acted out the role of His Father sat enthroned. Compare Luke 1:43 and 2 Samuel 6:9. Elizabeth uses the same form of language when Mary visited her as when David was visited by the Ark of the Covenant. And, just as the pillar of fire overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant, Mary also was overshadowed by the Spirit (Luke 1:35).
Thus, the accounts of Mary invite us to see how the very same cosmically large LORD of all history, who lived in the Ancient Church Tabernacle, was now becoming flesh to make His permanent tabernacle with us. The Tabernacle was where the LORD lived, and the nations were attracted to it and saved. Mary was where the LORD lived and, to her child, the nations were attracted and saved. If modern churches have a similarly deep connection to THAT Jesus, then today’s nations will still be drawn in.
Finally, Mary shared in the humility of Jesus. Covid-19 isn’t the World’s greatest threat. According to the Bible, our greatest threat by far is our proud, sinful heart and godless lifestyles. Yet, when Elizabeth admires Mary (Luke 1:42-43), her response is to magnify her LORD and Saviour.
How do we become humble? Well, no one stands at the edge of Grand Canyon and thinks “I’m awesome”. And, Mary lived in appreciation of Great Jesus who doesn’t breed proud followers, but humble servants, because He is the Servant King.
That day many babies were wrapped in swaddling clothes but only One had just stepped out of Heaven. Some may have grown to be rulers but only One washed dung off people’s feet and sin off their souls. All of them died, but only One died humbly hanging between Heaven and Earth, saving the World. THAT’s the Son of Mary and understanding Him, like she did, breeds the kind of humility that changes the World.
Mary stayed Jesus-centred to the very end of her life and we should be like her. Her alleged letter to Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, is as relevant today as ever: “Believe these truths and cling to them. Hold firm to the Way of Christ that you have embraced and make sure that your life conforms to this Way. Don’t let the ferocity of suffering and persecution move you. Instead let your spirit be strong and rejoice in God your Saviour. Amen.”