First Baptist Church, Cobden IL
Monday, December 10, 2018
200 South Walker St. Cobden, IL 62920
 
 

 

Dear Church Family,

 

A popular Christmas song asks how much Mary knew about what her son, Jesus, would accomplish. Written by Mark Lowry, "Mary Did You Know?" has been covered by popular artists such as Kenny Rogers, Wynonna Judd, Clay Aiken, and Cee Lo Green. In the song, Mary is asked if she knew that her baby boy would walk on water, calm the sea, give sight to the blind, and rule the nations. She is also paradoxically told, “This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.”
New Testament writers don’t directly tell us how much Mary knew about what her son would accomplish. There are strong reasons for believing Mary wasn’t naïve in understanding who the Messiah would be and what he would accomplish. After Gabriel told Mary she would bear a son, the angel told her about Elizabeth, who conceived in her old age (Luke 1:36). Mary quickly traveled to see Elizabeth, who, upon hearing Mary’s greeting, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied to confirm the angel’s words.
Mary then praised the Lord in what we now call the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55). This section is fascinating. Mary alludes to a wide variety of Old Testament texts, showing she knew the Scriptures and the themes that went along with them. This young girl was well-informed about Messiah’s coming.

What Mary Knew - 
Studying this passage in light of its Old Testament counterparts, three assertions emerge about what Mary would have known. She would have known the prophesy meant:

1. Both judgment and salvation had come.
Mary begins her psalm of praise, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47). The verse points to Habakkuk 3:18: “Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” Mary is alluding to a text that speaks of the Lord going forth as a warrior to enact judgment on his adversaries and to save his people.
The language of Habakkuk 3 is similar to what’s found both in Jesus’s Olivet Discourse and also the book of Revelation, as well as other apocalyptic passages (cf. Hab. 3:10–12; Matt. 24:7–30; Rev. 6:12–17). The anointed one, or Messiah, is explicitly mentioned in connection with God’s salvation of his people in verse 13.
2. While God’s judgment on the nations will be terrible, God’s salvation of his people will be wonderful.
The point of the passage is that while God’s judgment on the nations will be terrible, God’s salvation of his people will be wonderful. That’s what led the prophet to exult and rejoice. From the context of Habakkuk, Mary would have understood that the coming of Messiah meant judgment for God’s enemies, but salvation for his people. She may have wondered at the political implications for her first-century society, with Rome viewed as the violent oppressor of the Jews. She likely conceived of Messiah’s coming in terms of political salvation rather than spiritual salvation from sin.
3. Mary’s song also includes references to God’s salvation in the exodus: “He has done mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart” (Luke 1:51). Two key terms reference God’s saving work during the exodus: God’s arm and his scattering of the proud. Deuteronomy 26:8 recounts how the Lord’s arm was powerful to save: “And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders.” God’s outstretched arm was a sign of his power in descending to snatch Israel from Egypt’s enslaving grasp.
Likewise, Moses asked God in Numbers 10:35 to arise and scatter his enemies. These two allusions add to the idea that the Messiah’s coming would mean salvation for God’s people. God would once again stretch out his arm by sending his king into the world to deliver his people and judge his enemies.
 
 

Pastor Ed