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17. Mary, mother of Jesus
17-1 Mary: Our Representative || 17-2 Mary’s Character: 17-2-1 The Loneliness Of Mary || 17-2-2 The Spiritual Ambition Of Mary || 17-2-3 Hannah And Mary || 17-2-4 A Bible Mind: Mary And The Magnificat || 17-2-5 The Faith Of Mary || 17-2-6 Mary And The Virgin Of Isaiah 7 || 17-2-7 The Humility Of Mary || 17-3 Mary In Crisis: 17-3-1 Mary’s Crisis Of Faith || 17-3-2 Mary And Jesus In The Temple || 17-3-3 Mary At Cana || 17-3-4 Mary And Her Other Children || 17-3-5 Mary In Mid-Life Crisis || 17-3-6 The Jesus-Mary Relationship || 17-4 Mary’s Victory: 17-4-1 Mary At The Cross || 17-4-2 The Influence Of Mary || 17-4-3 The Psychological Matrix Of Jesus

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.

Potential Connections

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: 

Zeph. 3:14-17

When the LXX and Hebrew readings are combined, it becomes evident that the Angel is inviting Mary to see herself as the “daughter of Zion”: 

Zeph. 3

Luke 1:28-31

Rejoice [LXX chaire], daughter of Zion (Zeph. 3)

 Rejoice [chaire]…[Mary]Notice 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. 12:14,15.

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 (Zeph. 3)

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 Ark

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.