Mary, the Servant of God


“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48, ESV).

Prior to the coming of Christ, all Israelites had one thing in common: expectation of the Messiah. By prophecy, the Lord had given several clues about the Messiah. Well documented, among other things, was the fact that He was going to be born of a woman (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2-3) from Israel. Prophecy also indicated that the Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (cf. Genesis 49:10). The earthly father of the Messiah had to be from Judah. This is very important because the Messiah’s lineage would be traced through the male line. This means that if you were a man from any other tribe apart from Judah, you were disqualified.

 Additionally, if you were a woman married to a man who wasn’t from the tribe of Judah, you too, were disqualified. It was, therefore, necessary for Mary to have married a man from Judah. This explains why in Matthew’s account of the genealogy of Jesus, the Bible is careful to show Mary’s marriage connection to Joseph (cf. Matthew 1:16). Mary herself was, most likely, from the tribe of Levi (cf. Luke 1:5, 36). In Luke’s account of Jesus’ genealogy, he omits Mary from the list of Jesus’ ancestors because all that needed to be established was that Joseph’s line could be traced to David, to Judah, to Abraham, to Adam, to God (cf. Luke 3:23-38).

Of the hundreds of thousands of women who fit the profile of the Messiah’s mother, God chose none but Mary, the virgin from Nazareth (cf. Luke 1:26). In today’s opening Scripture, notice what Mary said, “for he [God] has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” God’s eyes were turned toward Mary’s lowly state, her humble life. He saw her humility, and she exalted her, bestowing on her the honor of being the mother of Israel’s Messiah. Anyone in that position who wasn’t humble could have been easily overcome with pride, seeking praise from people, and thinking herself to be above everyone else. Not so with Mary. God looked indeed on her humble state, for throughout the New Testament, there is not a single hint of pride from her.

Speaking of Mary’s humility, it is sad that in the Roman Catholic Church and other places, this simple woman has been idolized and essentially deified. The Mary we know in the Bible wouldn’t want anyone to pray to her, let alone bow to man-made statues of her. It would be against her very nature, as described in the Bible. 

Another important detail is that Mary called herself God’s servant. The Greek word translated ‘servant’ is doulē (pronounced DOU-LAY). It means female slave. Mary thought of herself as God’s slave. This would explain her humble estate before God. She was already submitted to God, so when she was chosen to be the mother of Messiah, she was ready to serve.

Let us learn from Mary. Let us grow in humility, that God may exalt us in due time. Amen. 

For further study: Luke 1:26-56

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