Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What Makes Mary So Special?

"And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is His name.'"
- Luke 1:46-49

For centuries Catholics and Protestants have debated about the role that Mary should play in the lives of Christians. There’s no doubt that Catholics place a greater emphasis on Mary than do Protestants. In most Protestant churches Mary is rarely mentioned other than at Christmas and on Good Friday. But Catholics and Protestants agree: Mary was a very special woman.

But what makes Mary so special? This question struck me earlier today, and Mary herself gives us the best answer in Luke 1. After receiving the message from the angel Gabriel that—though she was a virgin and probably just a teenager—she would give birth to the Son of God, the King of the Jews, Mary took a last-minute road trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth. While there, Mary created and jubilantly recited a poem of praise to the Lord. At times it’s called “Mary’s Song.”  Many others know it by its Latin name: “The Magnificat.” 

Early in the poem Mary acknowledges that “from now on all generations will call [her] blessed.”  Why? Why would Christians for centuries to come call her “blessed”? Mary herself tells us in verse 49. According to Mary, she would be called blessed for one reason: “for the Mighty One has done great things for me” (verse 49). In other words, the only reason that she is blessed is because God blessed her. Similarly, the only reason that Mary is so special is because God made her so special. So it’s clear that she didn’t make herself special. God made her special.

And as a result, in the remainder of the poem, Mary shines the spotlight—not on herself—but on God. She praises Him for His mercy in verses 50 and 54. She praises Him for His mighty deeds in verse 51. She praises God for His sovereign power in verse 52 and for His compassion in verse 53. There seems to be no doubt in Mary’s mind: She is special for one reason and one reason only: God made her special.

The reality is, had it not been for Jesus, none of us would have any idea who Mary of Nazareth was. At the mention of her name, we’d all be asking each other, “Mary who?” Without Jesus, Mary would have remained an obscure young woman hailing from a piddly little town in an unimpressive region of the tiny nation of Israel. Mary would have lived and died in absolute obscurity, and hardly anyone would have cared. Precious few would have noticed…were it not for Jesus.

You see, Jesus makes all the difference in the world. Jesus was the one whose incarnation put Mary in the history books as the only virgin to have ever given birth to a child. Jesus was the one whose birth put Mary on King Herod’s most wanted list. Jesus was the one whose birth brought wealthy astrologers from hundreds of miles away to entrust Mary and her husband with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. Jesus was the one who made Mary appear to be the best wedding host ever at the wedding in Cana. Jesus was the one whose ministry placed Mary at two of the most important events in history: his crucifixion and the sending of his Holy Spirit upon his followers in Acts 2.

Jesus made Mary…Mary. Mary is so special because Jesus made her special. And the same goes for you. Let’s face it: without Jesus Christ in our lives, we’re just as obscure as Mary was before the angel Gabriel paid her a visit. Think about it. Each of us lives in an obscure Southern California town, in a piddly little valley that most people only pay attention to when they get hunger pangs during their drives to and from Vegas. You and I aren’t famous. Few people know us, and precious few will remember us after we die.

But just as Jesus Christ made Mary so special, he can and will make you special. No, if you allow Jesus Christ to take the driver’s seat of your life, it doesn’t mean that a figurine of you will be added to everyone’s manger scene. People may still forget you when you die. But this world will have been greatly impacted by your life.

You see, Jesus Christ loved you enough to die for you. And he put you on this earth at this time and in this place for a reason. And that reason is very important. Just as he had a great purpose and plan for Mary, he has a great purpose and plan for you. So, trust him. Love him. And obediently carry out that plan.

And when someone asks you the question, “What makes you so special?” tell them the truth. “The answer isn’t a ‘what’ but a ‘who.’ Jesus Christ makes me so special, and don’t you forget it!” 
Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah!: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters
You've Never Heard Of.

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