The Song of Mary — By Douglas Wilson

The Bible teaches us a great deal about our Lord’s mother, and about her great and astonishing faith. But unfortunately, Roman Catholic errors, idolatries and excesses have all created or contributed to a great over-reaction from Protestants, and hence a great loss for us. Often we do not even want to talk about Mary at all, still less with the great honor she deserves, for fear of being thought of as drifting toward the folly of thinking she is somehow co-redemptrix or co-mediatrix with her Son. One of Rome’s great sins is that of chasing evangelical Christians away from Mary. But the Scripture remains clear in its testimony, at least. “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth . . .” (Luke 1:26-56).

Mary really was blessed among all women. It would be difficult for Luke to have made his theme in this more clear. When Gabriel appears, he says she is blessed among women (v. 28). She has found favor with God (v. 30). Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, pronounces her blessed among women again (v. 42). Elizabeth blesses her again in v. 45. Mary herself recognizes that all future generations will call her blessed (v. 48). If some have distorted this blessing by claiming too much for her, it is hardly fitting for us to distort the blessing through doing something else. Above all, what the Word plainly teaches is to be our guide in such things.

What was the character of Mary? Scripture does not tell us how old Mary was, but if she was typical of young marriagable women of her time, she could have been around fourteen-years-old. And in no way does the portrait painted by Luke represent her to us as a silly little thing. Quite the reverse.

We learn she was a woman in need of a Savior: Mary knows of her need for forgiveness. She refers here to God as her Savior (v. 47). The thought that she was personally sinless, and immaculately conceived had never entered her head. Nor should it enter ours. She was a woman of faith: Mary considers what Gabriel says and immediately submits herself to it (v. 38). And Elizabeth blesses Mary as one who believed (v. 45). In her song, she showed that she was dependent upon the promises of Scripture. The angelic messenger was no substitute for the Word. God had helped Israel, and He had done so in accordance with the promises to the fathers (vv. 54-55). And at the center of her faith was the promise made to Abraham (v. 55). Mary was quite evidently a woman of the Word: this Magnificat is made up almost entirely of language from the Old Testament, and shows a deep and thorough knowledge of Scripture. In particular, we are reminded of Hannah’s song (1 Sam. 2:1ff). Not only does her language echo the language of many passages from the Old Testament, but she also refers to God’s saving acts recounted there (vv. 50–52). She was a woman of deep humility: Mary knew that she was selected to be the mother of the Messiah from a “low estate” (v. 48). She does not interpret the blessing that was given to her in a prideful or arrogant way. And crowning all of it, she was a woman of gratitude: her soul immediately turned to “magnify the Lord” (v. 46). She rejoiced in her God and Savior (v. 47). God had done great things for her, which she is careful to recount (v. 49).

Not only was Mary blessed, but so was her Son (v. 42). Mary overcame in the way women are called to conquer–by giving birth to conquerors, or by giving birth to daughters who will give birth to conquerors. And this explains how the Magnificat can have been composed by a woman and still be so gloriously militant. Godly child-bearing is militant. The seed of the woman has crushed the dragon’s head.

And so, this Christmas, how are we called to imitate Mary, as we treasure up in our hearts the wonderful revelations given to us from God’s Word? First, we should focus on the gospel: in one sense, of course, Jesus is the reason for the season. But in another fundamental sense, sin is the reason for the season. We have not entered into a season of feelgoodism, where we think about soft snow and candlelight, with silver bells in the distance. Remember Ramah weeping for her children, remember our abortion mills, remember how dark this world is without Christ, and then cling in faith to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mary’s only Savior is our only hope for salvation as well.

Second, we need to connect this with strong views of incarnationalism. Not only has Jesus destroyed the overt works of the devil, He has also thrown down the devil’s philosophy, which maintains that we are all to be very, very “spiritual.” But in the face of this false doctrine, God was made flesh. This means that we may build, sew, pick up a knife and fork, make love, spank our kids, shovel the walk, and do all to the glory of God. Earthiness is not the gospel, but the gospel did come to earth. Earthiness is no savior, but earthiness is saved.

And last, we glory in victory: He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. God did not give His Son to die in order to fight against the world with futility. The incarnation was no temporary arrangement. The baby born at Bethlehem was given as the Savior of the world.

From Blog and Mablog


~ by Michael on December 16, 2005.

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