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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

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Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mary - March 22, 2017 - Fourth Mid-Week of Lent - Text: Matt. 27:55-61; Luke 1:27-56; 2:1-22, 34, 39; John 19:26-27

We begin this week as we began last week with the reminder that we call the Word of God the “Good News” and rightly so, for it is the good news of salvation for all who believe. This year during the season of Lent through Easter Sunday we are hearing of the events surrounding the suffering and death of Jesus through the different characters of those involved in the events. Prayerfully we are getting a better understanding of the personalities and thus the reasons for the specific actions of the characters through actual Biblical statements and “quotes” of each person.
 
Last week we got to know the apostle responsible for writing the Gospel of John, the Revelation of John and the epistles of John, probably the youngest of the apostles, the one who became Jesus’ mother’s adopted son, and the one who referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the apostle John.
 
In order to get a better understanding of the person of the character of the passion we are addressing this evening we must go back to the conception of Jesus, because this evening we are looking at Jesus’ mother, Mary. This evening we begin some thirty three years before the events of Jesus’ death. We begin at the beginning, that is, we begin at the birth of Jesus. Luke tells us the history: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her” (Luke 1:26-38). Indeed, Luke speaks highly of the character of Mary in that she was highly favored by God.
 
Continuing on Luke tells us: “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!’ 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. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 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. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.’ Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home” (Luke 1:39-56). Here we see that Mary is blessed and she is blessed to be a blessing to others, even to the world and even to us today. She is a blessing to all who hear and believe the good news of the Gospel, the good news of the child she will bear, the good news of Jesus, the Savior of the world.
 
Luke continues: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7). From this account we know that because of the royal blood of Joseph, and in other accounts that of Mary as well, that Jesus is of royal blood, even the line of King David.
 
Luke continues: “and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about’” (Luke 2:8-15).  Luke confirms Jesus miraculous birth as a descendent of David who came into the world in a humanly lowly manner, yet in a heavenly joyous manner.
 
Finally, Luke concludes: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:16-22). Mary’s character is that even though she was young and did not fully understand what was happening to her, she continued to trust in God and “ponder,” that is think about all these things that were taking place.
 
In good Jewish fashion we are told: “on the eighth day (after His birth), when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth’” (Luke 2:34,35, 39).
 
We hear nothing of Jesus from birth and circumcision until He is twelve years old when we are told that following a trip to Jerusalem His mother, Mary and His father, Joseph left Him behind. It was not until later when they had stopped for the evening on their way home that they realized that Jesus was not with them. Returning to Jerusalem He was found in the temple discussing God’s word with the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and that He was doing an excellent job of doing so. When confronted by His loving and concerned parents He told them that He must be in His Father’s house and about His Father’s business and once again we are told that Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
 
One can only imagine the pain Mary felt, as predicted by Simeon at Jesus’ circumcision when he spoke of a spear piercing her heart which must have been what it felt like when Jesus was sentenced to death and nailed to the cross. Yet, even on the cross Jesus remembered His mother and to care for her needs. While Jesus was hung on the cross, suffering in great anguish of body, mind and spirit, “when He saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27). Yes, we can see how Jesus loved His mother and how she loved Him. Even in His hour of pain and suffering He made sure she was cared for.
 
We hear that at the cross, “many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb” (Matthew 27:55-61).
 
Later we are told that Jesus did show Himself to be alive, even to Mary, which certainly brought her joy. Perhaps it was seeing Him alive that helped her put the pieces of His life together, those pieces she had been pondering all through His life. Mary was an extraordinary woman, a woman of courage. She was a woman, chosen by God to fulfill His Word and purposes in this world.  And she was gifted by God with the strength she needed to be the person He created her to be. As God chose her and called her, as He gave her the strength to be His servant, so we see her life and example as an example to us so that we too are encouraged to come and be given to by God and to rejoice in His living in us, working in and through us, giving us faith, forgiveness and life and our response of giving Him glory. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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