Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
With Christmas around the corner, I am concluding this yearlong series on world changers profiling Mary the Mother of Jesus. While it might seem evident that Mary, the mother of Christ, was a world-changer, what in particular would merit her distinction? In some circles, it is believed that Mary never sinned. There is no Scriptural basis for this assumption. It is an innovation likely borne from the desire to explain how the Son of God did not inherit sin from Adam (unlike the rest of us). Knowing the Holy Spirit conceived the Christ-child in the womb of the chosen virgin provides a sufficient explanation. So what makes her unique?
First, imagine a virgin teenager encountering the angel Gabriel to learn that she would give birth to the Son of God. This same high-ranking angel terrified adult men with his proclamations. But Mary, initially frightened, moved from fear to curiosity to submission: And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”… And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:34, 38 ESV). Still, this tender-hearted maiden would have to grow up in a hurry. After an arduous journey to Bethlehem, where she would give birth to the Promised Child in an uncouth animal shelter, strange, wonderful, and terrifying events would soon follow:
- Shepherds confirm her son’s deity (not the best of witnesses), Luke 2:8-20.
- Gentile kings claim her son is the king of the Jews (again, credibility issues), Matthew 2:1-14.
- They must flee to Egypt (when King Herod learns of the prophecy and location of the Christ-child and orders the execution of infant boys in Bethlehem), Matthew 2:13-18.
- Then, on the second day of a return trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth, Mary realizes that her twelve-year-old son is missing from the family caravan. Once found in the temple, Luke tells us that Jesus submitted to his parents and increased favorably with God and man, Luke 2:412-52.
For a while, we assume that all was going well for Mary, except for the loss of her husband, Joseph—as most scholars surmise since there is no further mention of him. Then comes the start of Jesus’ ministry: long hours, always on the go, attracting large crowds of needy people, and regularly insulting the religious power brokers. Any bright mother like Mary would be deeply concerned for the wellbeing of her son. Hence, the family decided to do an intervention: Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”… And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent to him and called him (Mark 3:20, 21, 31 ESV).
Mary would face heartbreak (as the prophet Simeon foretold) when she witnessed her disfigured son stretched upon a cross in humiliation, suffering excruciating pain and eventual death. Yet, while the other disciples scattered for fear of association, Mary and John drew near the cross and remained there until the soldiers removed Jesus’ body. But redemption and hope would soon arise from the grave. Mary’s sorrow would turn to joy as she learned of her son’s resurrection. Still, their earthly reunion would prove only to be temporary. Jesus would ascend to his heavenly realm and assume his rightful place as the Son of God and the Savior of our world.
Meanwhile, comforted by John the Evangelist, Mary would hear all the beautiful stories of how Jesus’ disciples (including her two sons, Peter and Jude) would risk their lives to grow the Church worldwide. And the seminal of the “greatest story ever told” is a virgin teenager who humbly submitted to the will of God. Thus, we honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, a world-changer.