17-2-5 The Faith Of Mary
Such a Bible minded woman inevitably had faith. For faith
comes by hearing the word of God. Mary believed the Angel’s words fully-
hence her rejoicing. The aorist tenses of Lk. 1:51-53 seem the equivalent
of prophetic perfect tenses in Hebrew- Mary firmly believes that what
is still future is as good as happened. She had the faith that considers
what has been promised to have actually happened. At that moment it was
as if God had scattered the proud, the rulers and the princes-
even though this would only be achieved by the Lord’s life, death and
glorification (Acts 2:33; 4:24-27; 5:31). The Holy Spirit came upon her,
and so Mary’s spirit was full of gladness (Lk. 1:35,47). She
walked in step with the spirit (Gal. 5:25 NIV). Because she believed that
really the child she would bear would be “holy”, she can extol God as
“holy” (1:35,49). She says that God “Hath done to me great things”-
she believed that what was promised would actually happen, to the point
she felt it had already happened. Now this surely is the essence of faith.
Not only are the words of Mary packed with allusion to
Scripture, but the words of the Angel to her are also. Whether or not
she grasped all the allusions we don’t know, but it is likely that the
allusions were there because it was within her potential to perceive them,
Mary's faith was big enough for this, especially as she later meditated
upon all these things in her heart. Someone with her evident knowledge
of Scripture was surely capable of picking them up. Consider some examples:
When the LXX and Hebrew readings are combined, it becomes
evident that the Angel is inviting Mary to see herself as the “daughter
Rejoice [LXX chaire],
daughter of Zion (Zeph. 3)
how chaire is also addressed to the Daughter of Zion
in Zech. 9:9, a passage also applied to Jesus in Mt. 21:5; Jn.
The King of Israel, the
Lord, is in the midst of you [en meso sou] (Zeph. 3)
The Lord is with
you [meta sou]. “The king of Israel” was a well known
Messianic title. He was in the midst of Mary in the sense that
He was now in her womb.
Do not be afraid, Zion
Do not be afraid, Mary
The Lord your God is with
/ in you (Zeph. 3)- the Hebrew can imply ‘in your interior parts’,
cp. the womb
You have found favour with
God. We can perceive a double meaning now in Zephaniah’s
words- the Lord God was with Mary, but was also within her manifest
in His Son.
The mighty one will save
you (Zeph. 3)
“God my Saviour”-
as if Mary picked up the allusions and responded to them.
A spiritually minded person has situations brought about
in their lives which they can interpret as thrilling encouragement, if
they perceive the links between the situation they find themselves in
and the Scriptures. This is one reason why regular, daily Bible study
must be persevered in, even if at the time we seem not to have
discovered so much. Mary was “the daughter of Zion”- a symbol of us all.
Thus we are left to wonder whether Mary grasped the connection between
various events in her life and the Old Testament prophecies which were
so personally and intensely relevant:
- Did she see the link between her giving birth
in a stable and laying Jesus down in a “manger” (Gk. phatne),
perhaps with oxen and donkeys onlooking, and Is. 1:3 LXX: “The ox knows
its owner, and the donkey knows the phatne (“manger’) of its
Lord (kyrios as in Lk. 2:11), but Israel has not known me”.
- I likewise wonder whether she grasped the relevance
of Ps. 87:6 LXX to the fact she gave birth to Messiah during a census:
“In the census of the peoples, this one [Messiah] will be born there”.
The relevance of this verse to the Lord’s birth may explain why Luke
says that the census of Quirinius was part of a census of the
whole world, which wasn’t strictly true.
- And Jer. 14:8 was addressed to the Lord and Saviour
of Israel, Jesus-Messiah: “Why are you like an alien in the land, like
a traveller who stays in lodgings?”. If Mary had made all these
connections, the hurt of being told there was no room in the lodging,
and having to give birth in a stable, laying her dear child in a cattle
manger…would have been far less felt by her. These things would have
thrilled and rejoiced her heart rather than hurt her, just as we can
joyfully perceive how present sufferings are working out so analogous
to a Biblical verse or character.
The Angel’s description of Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary
(Lk. 1:35) could have sent her mind back to how the Spirit-Cherubim and
the cloud of Spirit glory overshadowed the ark (Ex. 25:20; 1 Chron. 28:18).
The LXX uses the word for “overshadow” about the cloud of glory overshadowing
the ark in the wilderness (Ex. 40:35; Num. 9:18,22). If Mary’s mind had
been alerted to this possibility, she would have seen the relevance of
Elizabeth’s words: “Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to
me?” (Lk. 1:43). For they are remarkably similar to the LXX of 2 Sam.
6:9, where David asks “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”. As a
result of this question of David’s, the ark remained three months in the
house of Obed-Edom (2 Sam. 6:11). And was this why Mary, seeing herself
as the ark, remained for three months in the house of Elisabeth straight
after hearing this same question asked (Lk. 1:56)? There are further links,
between the gladness of Lk. 1:44 and the joy of 2 Sam. 6:12; and the loud
cry of Lk. 1:42 and that of 2 Sam. 6:15. If one combines Lk. 1:31 and
Jn. 1:14 we have the word of God becoming flesh and “tabernacling” among
us in the womb and faith of Mary. If these connections are valid, then
Mary would have felt that within her was He who would be the covenant
of the Lord, the stones of the word of God made flesh in a little boy.
This was perception indeed.