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 obvious that Mary was a world changer as the mother of Christ, what in particularly would merit her distinction beyond relational position? 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 is sufficient explanation, and why, in part, I am highlighting Mary as a world-changer. Can you 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 others with his proclamations. For Mary, initially she was understandably frightened, but her fear turned to curiosity and then 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 and 38 ESV
The challenges were just beginning for the mother of Jesus. A visitation by shepherds to confirm her son’s deity (not the best of witnesses), a second visitation by gentile kings (again, issues with credibility), and a quick exit to Egypt (when King Herod learned of the prophecy and location of the Christ-child) were all portent to a rollercoaster of highs and lows. As the story goes, Jospeh and Mary returned to Nazareth upon learning that Herod had died. Then, at age twelve, Jesus gave his mother the scare of her life. On the return trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth, the second day Mary realized that Jesus was not with their traveling van of family and friends. Once found in the temple, we are told that he submitted to his parents and increased in favor with God and man.
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 off 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, and 31 ESV
Three years later, Mary’s soul would be pierced (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 all of Jesus’ disciples (except John) scattered because of fear of association, Mary drew near to the cross and remained there until Jesus was taken away for burial. But redemption and hope were soon to arise from the grave. Mary’s sorrow would turn to joy as she learned of her son’s resurrection. Still, the earthly reunion would only be temporary. Jesus would ascend to the heavenly realm and assume his rightful place as the Son of God and the Savior of our world.
For Mary, she would be comforted by John the Evangelist and hear all the wonderful stories of how Jesus’ disciples (and even two of her other sons) would risk their lives to grow the Church worldwide—all made possible by her firstborn and, in part, by her humble submission to the will of God. This is why we honor Mary the mother of Jesus as a world-changer. Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate Christmas and remember not only the Christ-child but his faithful mother!