Do you think you have to earn God’s favor? Did you know that God gives favor to someone, not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so? That’s called grace. God’s grace carries the notion of joy and delight as God shows His kindness to us. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, God not only chose her to carry His Son in her womb but also delighted in giving her that grace gift. In this post, we will see how Jesus satisfies your heart with grace using God’s grace to Mary as our example. This is post #10 in our New Testament Women series.
Listen to this post as a similar podcast from our Bible Study of New Testament women: Live Out His Love.
Jesus’ mother Mary was raised in a time when women did not have the same rights as men. Women were treated as possessions and listed along with a man’s property. Wives referred to their husbands as “master” and lord. A woman could not divorce her husband. Daughters and wives did not inherit property from their father or husband unless there was no male heir. However, some women did have respect and influence, like the Old Testament women Sarah, Miriam, Deborah and Abigail. Daughters seemed to share in family life as much as sons, such as participating in religious festivals. The Ten Commandments called for equal honor to be shown to both parents. Women were subject to the law with identical penalties as male offenders.
Jesus did not reinforce the practice of treating women as second-class citizens or as possessions. His example demonstrates His equal love and compassion for women as well as men, including His own mother. Mary was an ordinary woman of faith. She gave birth to and raised the boy Jesus, but then she needed to believe in Him with the same saving faith that you and I must have for salvation. As you are reading this blog, you may have a different perspective about Mary because of your church’s teachings. We will focus on what the Scriptures actually say about her.
Mary was chosen by God because of His grace.
The angel Gabriel was sent to deliver a message from God to a young woman named Mary in the town of Nazareth. We don’t know how old she was, but history suggests she was between 13 and 16.
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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants 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 on 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:28-38)
From the first, we see why God chose to gift Mary with the blessing of bringing forth the Messiah into the world. The angel Gabriel said that Mary was highly “favored” and that she had found “favor” with God, both words related to the Greek karis, often translated in the New Testament as grace.
What is grace?
You’ve probably heard the word “grace” but may not know what it really means. You may know someone called Grace or Gracie. I have a niece named Grace. It’s a beautiful name. That word is also used in the names of organizations like Grace Church or Grace Community School. And you’ve probably heard the songAmazing Grace. It is one of the most recognized songs worldwide. For Christians, “grace” is a very special word. But what does it mean?
If you look in a dictionary, you’ll find that grace can refer to elegance or beauty of form or action. It is a pleasing or attractive quality. A ballerina dances in a graceful manner. But when we talk about God’s grace, that’s not what we mean. God’s grace is not about how to get over your clumsiness. You aren’t going to learn how to move with finesse like a gymnast or figure skater. Those are good things. But that’s not what grace means for Christians.
The biblical term “grace” means “undeserved favor or gift.” It is receiving a gift or favor that you don’t deserve. In the Bible, grace is God giving favor to someone, not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so. God’s grace springs from God’s love. It carries the notion of joy and delight as God shows His kindness to us. For Mary, God not only chose her to carry His Son in her womb but also delighted in giving her that grace gift.
We offer a detailed study of Mary’s life in the Live Out His Love Bible Study.
Mary received God’s grace because He loved her.
God chose Mary to receive the wonderful blessing of being the human mother for His Son because He loved her. And He gave her a godly partner in life, Joseph, to rear this boy into manhood. The proper response to God’s grace is to love Him back and give Him praise out of a grateful heart. Mary did that, too.
Mary left Nazareth and traveled 70 miles to visit her relative Elizabeth for three months after the angel’s announcement. God’s grace to Elizabeth and through her words confirmed to Mary what the angel had told her.
In a loud voice [Elizabeth] 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 the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Mary had believed God’s word to her. That’s faith. Mary responded to God’s grace toward her with her own words of joy.
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. Luke 1:46-49)
Mary’s song of praise and gratitude has strong similarities with Hannah’s song (1 Samuel 2:1-10). It reveals that she loved God with her heart and knew His Word.
This hymn of praise is known as the Magnificat because in the Latin Vulgate translation the opening word is Magnificat, which means “glorifies.” (NIV Study Bible. Zondervan, note on Luke 1:46-55)
Her expression “God, my Savior” indicated that Mary knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior. She considered herself to be blessed (Luke 1:48). The adjective “blessed” is translated from a Greek word that means, “pronounced happy.” She recognized that God had done great things for her in choosing her for the privilege of giving birth to the Messiah, God’s own Son. Could God have carried out His plan of salvation without Mary? The angel Gabriel told her, “For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).” God could have used any woman, young or old. He chose to use Mary.
Mary experienced God’s grace at the birth of her baby.
It was late in her pregnancy when “Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken…And everyone went to his own town to register” (Luke 2:1-3). Though women 12 years and older were required to pay a poll tax and register, Mary could have chosen to not go to Bethlehem and let Joseph enroll both of them in the census. They likely knew the prophecy from Micah 5:2,
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
Mary chose to go, not knowing all that would be ahead for her. The baby would be born in Bethlehem as God decreed.
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 guest room available for them. … But the angel said to the [shepherds], “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” … 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.” 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. (Luke 2, 6-7, 10-12, 15-19)
Mary experienced a 90-mile trip when she was 9 months pregnant and shepherds delivering the birth announcement from angels. That confirmed to both Mary and Joseph that God was still being gracious to them, even though Jesus had to be born in a stable. We consider Jesus’ birth in a stable/cave rather than a nice comfy house as something bad. Consider, however, how Jesus “lying in a manger” would make Him more accessible to the shepherds. God knew what He was doing! Mary treasured up all these things in her heart—God’s grace to her.
In Matthew, we learn that they received expensive gifts from majestic strangers. God warned them through an angel to leave town to escape danger from a jealous king. They then lived for two years, hiding out in a foreign land, before God in His grace told them to come back home.
Mary experienced God’s grace through her family.
Jesus was Mary’s firstborn. God in His grace gave her at least 6 other children. We get this from several places in the gospels.
Coming to his hometown, he [Jesus] began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? (Matthew 13:54-56)
There is no Scriptural evidence that these children were not Mary’s natural children through her union with Joseph. You can read a more detailed explanation about Jesus’ siblings online and in our Heartbreak to Hope Bible Study of Mark.
Mary and Joseph were faithful but not perfect parents (Luke 2:41-50). And she did not understand what her son’s mission would really involve. Yet, she faithfully did her job as mom to Jesus and to His brothers and sisters. Her life experienced lots of ups and downs following God’s protection and leading. She experienced His grace to her during all that time.
Mary experienced God’s grace through her faith in Jesus.
Mary was at the cross when Jesus died. She experienced the ugliness of that day.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25)
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Mary was part of the group praying together, waiting for the coming Holy Spirit. That group included His brothers. In 1 Corinthians 15:7, Paul wrote that after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His brother James who believed, became the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 15:13), and wrote the New Testament book of James. Another brother, Jude, also believed and authored the New Testament book of Jude. That’s another way that Jesus satisfied her heart with His grace.
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Luke 1:12-14)
Mary was a normal human just as you and I are. Mary believed in her Son and trusted in Him for her salvation just like all the others in that group. God’s grace poured out on all of them that day of Pentecost when the Spirit came upon them in a visible and audible way (Acts 2). We are to view Mary as one who revered the Lord and did His will, who put her trust in Him and, therefore, was filled with His joy. Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, she shared in the same salvation as the rest of believers.
Although that’s the last mention of her in the Bible, Mary is remembered for her legacy as Jesus’ mother. Jesus had the normal life of a Jewish boy, growing up. The Bible says that He grew “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Having a godly mom was God’s grace to Jesus.
Godly mothers are a gift of God’s grace to their children.
It matters who your mama is. That is easily seen when you read through the history of Israel. Most of the good kings had godly mothers. Most of the bad kings had ungodly mothers.
I had a godly mother. Her legacy was such a gift to me and to my children. She passed from earth to heaven several years ago, and I really miss her. But I haven’t missed the fact that she left an incredible legacy for me, my three brothers, and all of our family members. A legacy of how to serve Jesus faithfully as a woman.
Momma loved Jesus and His people. She served in her local church wherever she was needed—nursery coordinator, Sunday School director, and youth counselor. My mother also was very active in women’s ministries at her church, leading small groups as well as directing the large events. She helped to establish and operate a ministry to help the needy in her community. Our home was “Grand Central Station” as I was growing up. Neighbors were welcome at any time. A pot of coffee was quickly brewed and served. Family and friends from out of town stayed at our house rather than at a hotel, always feeling comfortable in Momma’s house. Though I miss her still, my hope in Christ grounds me in the fact that I will see her again — completely whole and cancer-free. Along with my dad who preceded her into heaven. As a woman, wife, mother, and grandmother, I am so grateful for the legacy of a godly mom. And I thank the Lord for satisfying her heart with His grace so she could show me how Jesus could satisfy my heart with His grace, too.
Jesus satisfies our hearts with grace, which confirms to us that we are loved and that He is with us.
As the Bible promises,
He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
A satisfied heart will thank God for His grace and show others how to find that grace in Jesus as well.
You can learn about how Jesus satisfies your heart through our study of New Testament women: Live Out His Love (11 lessons).
- Live Out His Love Bible Study on Amazon
- Heartbreak to Hope Bible Study of Mark on Amazon
- New Testament Women: Trust Jesus to satisfy your heart needs
- John 4: Samaritan Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with TRUTH
- Luke 7: Immoral Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with FORGIVENESS
- John 8: Adulterous Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with VICTORY
- Mark 5: Desperate Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with HOPE
- Mark 7, Luke 13.Shunned Women-Jesus satisfies your heart with KINDNESS
- Luke 7: Grieving Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with COMPASSION
- John 11-12: Mary and Martha-Jesus satisfies your heart with LOVE
- Luke 8: Mary Magdalene-Jesus satisfies your heart with FREEDOM
- Acts 9 & 16: Tabitha and Lydia-Jesus satisfies your heart with COMMUNITY ·
- Acts 18: Priscilla-Jesus satisfies your heart with PURPOSE
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