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A Virgin Is Chosen

(Luke 1:26-31, 46-55)

Lesson 2 -- first quarter 2009
December 14, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

Introductory questions to chew

What are the amazing and "impossible" things mentioned in this lesson?

Can you see God recently helping you "in remembrance of his mercy"?

What is yieldedness to God worth to me?

What's it worth to God?

Why did God pick an engaged girl who might well lose her fiance?

Isaiah prophesied many centuries before Mary that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. But he didn't specify what kind of virgin. Surely in all of Israel God could have found a holy-but-unbetrothed-and-uninvolved virgin to choose instead of Mary!

Imagine the heartache and misunderstanding God could have spared Joseph and Mary had the Spirit come upon her in one of these scenarios:

Scenario 1:

God arranges the events in Mary's life so that she never even "dates" nor is interested in a young man prior to the annunciation.

Scenario 2:

God acts sooner than He did in the Biblical record, sending Gabriel with his message before Mary is betrothed to Joseph.

Scenario 3:

God waits til immediately after Joseph and Mary's wedding, but before their marriage is consummated.

Obviously, we do not know why God decided to chose a betrothed girl to be the Lord's mother. But we do know that God chose the route of greatest blessing and efficacy. And Mary knew God well enough to have that same kind of confidence and faith in Him and His ways. We also know that Mary had her priorities straight -- God before Joseph. She was willing to lose her beloved if pleasing her Beloved required it. How readily would you yield to God's will if it threatened to cause a "break up" between you and your fiancee? Well, you answer that for yourself and we will get back to Mary's experience.

We have no inkling how long Gabriel chatted with Mary nor how many details of the divine plan he revealed to her. Maybe she expected to be spared the appearance of illegitimacy through a Scenario 3 set up. If so, morning sickness likely dashed those hopes fairly quickly. On the other hand, she may just have assumed Joseph would divorce her quietly. If so, her response as recorded in Luke 1:38 shows her readiness to patiently bear the double shame of divorce and apparent immorality. Or perhaps she remembered Job's story and wondered if the circumstances of her selection didn't reflect God's confidence in Joseph and her. If so, she knew in her heart God's limits on Satan and God's limitless grace would serve to sustain her, Joseph, and their relationship. We could hypothesize quite a bit more, but of this we can be confident -- Mary was primarily "the handmaid of the Lord" who would accept His word above all else. She knew the potential cost...and gave God a blank check.

What place does Mary have in the church today?

We know that Scripturally, Mary has no function in the Christian church. She has never been the intermediary between Jesus and mankind. But just because millions grant her that position doesn't mean that we should deny her any place in our churches. So I suggest to you some ways in which she has a place among us.


When the angel came to her with God's assignment, she recognized her unworthiness. She also did not understand how this could be. And I'm sure she suspected in small measure just what this might do to her reputation at the time. But she did not allow any of these issues to deter her from obedience to God's claim on her life. God had something for her to do, so she did it. Years later she encouraged others to have the same yieldedness, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it" (John 2:5). Never mind that you don't get the point of putting water in wine jars, especially for a wedding. Never mind what others will think of you for doing such a thing. Never mind any such thing; just mind Him!

Role Model.

Mary knew her place . . . and that's where she wanted to be. Mary knew what she was . . . and that's what she wanted to be. Her place and her role was that of handmaid of the Lord. Do you know your place and role? And knowing it, is that what you want? Sometimes we chafe at our "lot" in life, or at the assignment God has chosen for us. Mary chose to accept His choice as her own. She did not accept it as something imposed on her against the secret desires of her heart. Rather she chose it as an immense honor and a special privilege. May God find our hearts with that kind of disposition toward His will for us!

Do our congregations today have any Marys?

Yes! Praise the Lord for blessing His church with Marys today! I hereby single out for special honor four heroines as far as I'm concerned.

Rosana served the Lord for many years in a foreign country, away from family for extended periods of time. She still serves the Lord in her community, keeping the kind of schedule and activity load that would challenge someone half her age. Many are the individuals and congregations that have been blessed by her.

Margaret also served Christ and His church in a foreign country. God used her to bless others in many ways. She had a strong influence in the church and the community there. Yet she chose to let that go so that she might care for her parents. She gave up her "career" to serve at home, away from the "action" that had been her life for so long.

Carol spent many years at her own "career" in a major conservative Mennonite publisher. She had established herself well there. In a positive sense, this had become her life. But when the need arose, she also chose to redirect her immediate focus back toward home and the care of her parents.

Vivian felt like she had found her place, serving with her parents in a foreign country. Her Mission Board had "upgraded" her status from voluntary service worker to full-term missionary. Her service was beginning to blossom. Then came the call for her help in caring for her grandparents. She, too, denied herself.

Of course these sisters are far from perfect. I know it and so do they. But I also know that Mary wasn't perfect either. The imperfections of the handmaid do not at all minimize her submission and surrender to God and His ways. May the Lord bless these heroines of the Lord as well as those others whom I did not mention here. And may He replicate in me their spirit of service to God and acceptance of His will.

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