Mary, Mother of our Lord
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
Luke 1:46-55 Sermon
August 14, 2004
TLH 274 "Praise We the Lord This Day"
TLH 275 "My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord"
SBH 376 "Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness"
SBH 394 "Blest Are the Pure In Heart"
THE WORLD’S GREATEST MOTHER
TEXT: (vs. 47-49) “My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; for he has been mindful of the humble estate 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.”
The second Sunday in May….does this date stick in your mind somehow? Do you remember what was going on in your life just a little over three months ago?
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this day is set aside as “Mother’s Day.” This is a day in which all good children should remember and honor their mothers and grandmothers. We usually give mom a card and a small gift of some sort. Sometimes she’ll get a corsage to wear to church. We might even take mom out for dinner—that is, if we can get seating in a restaurant. These are the little things we do to make mom feel special on her special day.
I usually give my mother a card, and some sort of a flowering plant in a hanging basket—this year it was a begonia. This is the plant that she sees for the rest of the summer hanging outside of her kitchen window.
I think mother’s day is a great thing. Mothers do deserve a little extra honor, just for the rather difficult task of being mothers.
I’m bringing all this up about mothers and Mother’s Day because today we are focusing upon the greatest and most famous mother of all—Mary, the mother of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Because it is today, August 15th on the church calendar, that we have this lesser festival in the church, simply called “Mary, mother of our Lord.” This is a day that we learn what Scripture says about her, and her place in the picture of Christianity. And then we give thanks to God for her and for what she did.
If we look at older liturgical calendars of the Lutheran Church, we most likely won’t find this day listed amongst the lesser festivals commemorating the other New Testament Apostles and disciples. After all, there are two other minor festivals that deal with Mary on the liturgical calendar. There’s the Annunciation on March 25th, where the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be giving birth to the Christ Child. And then there’s the Visitation on July 2nd, where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist.
I can only guess what was going on in the minds of the early church fathers as to why this day might have been passed by or overlooked. Non-Catholic Christians are sensitive to the position to which the Roman Catholic Church has elevated Mary; so it might have seemed that a special day to honor her might be offensive to some. And since there were already those other two minor festivals dealing with her, then a special festival commemorating her might have been perceived like “too much Mary” for the Lutheran church.
All things being considered however, I think that if we can have a day to honor our own mothers, then a day to commemorate the greatest mother of all is definitely in order.
So what do we know about her? Non-biblical historical sources say that her parents were named Joachim and Anna. Evidently they weren’t able to have children in their early years, and they were advancing in age. They prayed to have a child, and then along came Mary. I don’t know how accurate this story is, but I guess it could be true.
From everything we read in the Bible about her, Mary would have had to have been a very devout and faithful Jew, and her parents would have raised her properly. Her life would have been very upright and moral. And she would have been a very humble person before God. Even though God doesn’t save because of good works, yet the situation here would have a different standard. It would take a very special person indeed to bear God’s only begotten Son, and to raise him through childhood.
In the verses just prior to our text for today, we find the angel Gabriel saying the words in verse 28, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” And then in verse 30, “…Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” These were very special words to a very special woman.
And then Mary’s reply to Gabriel was very reflective of her faith. In verse 34 Mary asks the question, “How will this be…since I am a virgin?” And after Gabriel answers her question, she replies in verse 38, “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said…” These are indeed the words of a very faithful servant of the Lord.
The Virgin Mary was going to give birth to the Christ Child. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, recorded in Isaiah 7:14 where we read: “…the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” These words were recorded approximately 600 years before this event. This prophecy would be fulfilled through her.
I find it highly offensive when I hear modern Biblical commentators suggest that the virgin birth wasn’t a fact, and that Mary was simply raped by a Roman soldier. That is a horrible slap in the face to God and to all of Christianity! How could we even pretend to say the words of the Apostles’ Creed if that were true? What kind of a person would Jesus have been? He certainly wouldn’t have been the true God and true man that the Bible describes. And it certainly would not have been very complimentary of Mary’s character either, since it would make her words quoted in Scripture nothing but lies.
As we look at our text for today, we find the beautiful words of Mary’s song, which in liturgical language we call “The Magnificat.” “My soul praises the Lord (or, My soul doth magnify the Lord [KJV]), and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name…He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
Again, here are some beautiful words spoken by a very faithful woman. She knew about the sinful state of the world and the wickedness of people. She knew of the sorrows and hurts that plagued all of mankind. She, of all people knew that the world was in turmoil and needed God’s deliverance.
But Mary also was fully aware of God’s promises. She knew that God promised to send a Saviour into the world to redeem fallen mankind. This Saviour would come to restore and to heal. And this Saviour would reconcile the sinful human race to God. This Saviour was needed so that God’s faithful people would be able to share eternity with him in heaven.
Mary’s humility and faithfulness is shown in the first few words of her song: “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” Mary knew that the sin which affected the whole world also affected her. As upright of a person as she may have been, yet she was still a sinner who needed a Saviour just as much as anybody. And now that Saviour that she needed was the Saviour to whom she would be giving birth. The Saviour that would redeem the whole world also would redeem her.
As we consider ourselves in this picture, we know that we are members of this sinful human race. We have inherited our sinful nature which has been passed down from generation to generation. We have sinned against God and against other people time and time again. We have been sitting in darkness, and we need the light of the Gospel which Jesus brings.
But we can be thankful that we do have a Saviour. Through faith in him, we are reconciled with God. This Saviour was conceived in the Virgin Mary’s womb for us. He lived his life and died his death for us. Everything Christ did was for us and for our salvation. Mary was God’s handmaiden by which all this happened for us.
And so we look at Mary’s faith as an example for us. She humbly believed what God had done for her. She didn’t question God’s reason or methods; rather she simply accepted what he had done, knowing it was for the best. Scripture says in several places that Mary “Kept all these things and treasured them in her heart.”
God gives us faith too. Maybe we don’t always know the reasons why things happen the way they do, but we have to believe that God is in charge and knows what’s best. And so we come to him in faith, believing in Jesus our Saviour, knowing that God has forgiven our sins and that he has restored us through him.
Mary was indeed quite a woman, and quite a mother. Scripture records various events of her life: her betrothal to Joseph, the annunciation by Gabriel that she would bear the Messiah, her visitation to Elizabeth, the birth of Christ, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple when he was scarcely 6 weeks old, the flight into Egypt, the Passover visit to the Temple when Jesus was 12, the wedding at Cana in Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle at her behest, an occasion when she came with others while he was preaching, her presence at the foot of the cross, her presence at the tomb, and her presence with the Apostles in the upper room after the Ascension, waiting for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. She was present at most of the chief events of her Son’s life. And some of those events weren’t that easy to attend.
But Mary stood firm in her faith. Even though the events in the life of her son were more than any mother would have to endure, she still trusted in God above all things. She knew that regardless of any heartache and emotional distress, that God was in control of everything, and that her son had a divine purpose in God’s plan. What a woman indeed!
Mary, the humble servant of God wasn’t trying to obtain glory for herself. In fact, she would probably be quite upset with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church regarding her. She was not “immaculately conceived” in the same manner Christ was. She was not assumed bodily into heaven; in fact these two teaching didn’t surface until the mid 19th and 20th Centuries.
She most likely wasn’t a perpetual virgin either. The Bible says that Joseph didn’t have any relations with her until after Christ was born. The Bible also says that Jesus had other brothers and sisters. Even though people like to think of Mary as never having any more children, yet the Bible does talk about Jesus’ brothers and sisters (half brothers and sisters actually); the natural children of Mary and Joseph. Mary being a perpetual virgin is no more than a romantic notion by some.
And of course we don’t pray to Mary either. She is not some sort of “mediatrix” or a go-between between God and man. The job of mediator belongs to Jesus Christ himself, and not to his earthly mother.
These are very real teachings of the Roman Catholic Church today, and we don’t share those teachings. But we do honor her as honor is due. If we can take the time to have a day to commemorate our own mothers, then it is just as fitting to have a day to commemorate the Virgin Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus our Lord.
Mary is most certainly a well-respected Biblical figure, and we remember her like we do all well-respected Bible figures. She has a very prominent place in the Christian faith. She is mentioned in the creeds of the Church. She certainly deserves to be called “The World’s Greatest Mother.”
She never intended glory for herself. Rather, she gave all glory to God. She wanted people to know her son Jesus as their Saviour just as he was her Saviour.
What advice do you think that Mary would have for us today? The answer to that question can be found in John 2:5: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.”
What does Jesus tell us? In John 11:25-26 Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Jesus means life and salvation. He was more than just a son to Mary. He was her Saviour. He meant life for her and for all people.
And so as we commemorate Mary today, let us always remember her chief purpose in life, which was to glorify God her Saviour.