Humble Heroes: Mary (Mother of Jesus)

Mary’s story can be found in Matt. 1-2, 27:45-56; Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-52; 8:19-21; John 19:25-27; Acts 1:12-26.
There’s a funny image made by a Christian cartoonist that pokes fun at the idea of Mary having bragging rights because she birthed Jesus. The image (displayed below) depicts two animals with “bumper stickers” bragging about their son being an honor student and medical student. Then Mary shows up with a sticker that boldly says: “OUR SON IS GOD.” It’s a funny meme, but it doesn’t quite represent reality. From what Scripture reveals, Mary approached her role humbly and perhaps with a bit of trepidation.
Mary is humble in her response to this grant task given to her. Properly, when the angel approaches her in Luke 2, she is afraid. That’s a typical response to that experience! Even when the angel said she was “highly favored” (2:28), she wondered at the meaning of the message. Though she asked the logical question about how the whole giving birth think would work when she is a virgin, it ultimately seems like she accepts the task graciously. At the end of the conversation, Scripture says, “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” (2:38). Such faith is quite admirable.

Another sign of Mary’s humility is in how she properly credits God for the good things in her life. When Mary sings a song of joy, she says, “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 2:46-49). The song begins with praise to a great God who recognized her lowly state. Though she says history will remember her as blessed, she properly recognizes that it’s God that has done great things for her. It’s not in her own ability. It’s all God.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, would certainly have a difficult job in raising Jesus. Not because Jesus was a particularly hard to manage baby (but who knows!) but because Mary surely realized the hardships both she and her son would go through in life. The prophet Simon cryptically once said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel …And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35). Yikes! That would make parenting awkward, to say the least. Nevertheless, Mary did her job. We are even told (after Jesus is found hanging out in the temple) she “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). She appears to have a good perspective on all these things.

As Mary knew well—since she sang about it—God lifts up the powerless and pushes down the powerful. God’s heart is with the “least of these.” She sang about God’s nature: “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:51-53). Mary was likely young, not particularly important, nobody of real significance. But God choose her. God used her because she was humble.

Discussion Question

  • What do you admire most about Mary’s character?
  • In what ways can we make sure to give God credit for what God does in our life?
  • What do you think it means to “treasure” a difficult situation in your heart?
  • Which of Mary’s best traits do you need to work on in yourself?
  • How is your character and spiritual life challenged by Mary’s life?
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