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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

17-2-7 The Humility Of Mary

Mary perceived the importance of humility. Her song of rejoicing is a consciously arranged poem by her. It is in two strophes, each climaxing with the themes of lowliness / exaltation. She saw humility as the true exaltation, and the structure of her little song reflects this. She perhaps prepared the song in her mind as she walked down from Nazareth to the Judaean hills to meet Elisabeth; there is a rhyme established by the last  words of the four lines in Lk. 1:52,53: thronon with agathon, and tapeinous with kenous. In all this she reached a new paradigm for humility was a concept foreign to the first century mind. Strength, wealth and ability were to be demonstrated; to show strength by being humble was just unheard of. Only those who were forced into humble submission by the stronger were ‘humble’. To clean the toilets when nobody else notices, and the host of other such opportunities for service in ecclesia life...this is the true humility, the real strength and exaltation before God. 

When Mary spoke of all generations calling her blessed, her mind was in  Gen. 30:13: " the daughters [i.e. future generations of them] shall call me blessed" , and yet at the same time on Zilpah the servant maid [cp. Mary the handmaiden] bearing Asher [happy]. These women were seen by Mary as representatives of her. She was so humble to compare herself with the servant girl. Yet she also had in mind Prov. 31:28 , where the virtuous woman is blessed by all. She saw herself as the virtuous woman who excelled all- yet she was so humble. She was the most highly favoured woman, but was so humble. It’s hard to know your true value without being proud about it. It seems to me that we must learn to value ourselves far more, to love our neighbour AS we do really love / respect ourselves, without being proud. The ability to see your own worth and value in God’s purpose is crucial;  we tend to be either proud, or too negative about ourselves. Mary was so spiritually ambitious to want to be the mother of Messiah, understanding He would be God manifest.  

Mary realized that her great honour was being given in response to her humility- God had regarded her  “low estate (Lk. 1:48) , her humility. She was humble enough to know God had noticed her humility- and still not be proud about it. She had enough self knowledge to perceive this. It’s as if she is saying ‘'Thank you for taking note of my humility' . This is really a deep essay in humility-  to recognize she was humble without being proud about it. And to be able to say it sincerely. Mary’s humility was programmatic for Jesus on the cross; for there He humbled Himself that He might be exalted. This was the theme that, according to Phil. 2, was ever in His mind. 

In passing, one is hard pushed to find women-only scenes in contemporary literature written during Biblical times. The women are presented in terms of the men with whom they inter-relate. Yet Elizabeth and Mary are recorded as having a conversation with no male present (Lk. 1:39-45); and there are other such passages in Scripture (Gen. 19:32,34; 30:14,15; Ex. 2:1-10; Jud. 5:28-30; Ruth 1:6-2:2; 3:16-18; 4:14-17; 2 Kings 5:2,3). The narrative of the women at the tomb and the resurrection is another example (Lk. 23:55-24:4). In all these passages, the reader is invited to share the woman’s perspective.