During this Christmas season, Christians all over the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s also the time to remember the story of TWO Marys.
First, let us remember Mary, the Mother of our Lord.
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 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. 36 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. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her……………46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.”
Let us see a few amazing facts here:
- Mary was just a humble woman whom nobody knew. But she was highly favored by God and He was with her! She was chosen by grace and not by works!
- Mary was greatly troubled but the angel told her to “Do not be afraid” and repeated that God gave her favor so that she would conceive the Son of God!
- Mary’s natural response was how could this be possible since she was a virgin. How could a virgin give birth to the Son of God? She asked this question because she knew that she was a sinner in the flesh: The answer was that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and produce the Christ within her! This is the same way that everyone becomes saved – in our own flesh we can do nothing but when we believe the Gospel, then the Holy Spirit produces Christ within us – Christ in us, the hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27, Galatians 4:19) – this is how we are Children of God!
- Mary believed in God’s unfailing word and said AMEN (let it be fulfilled). We also say amen to salvation in Christ (2nd Corinthians 1 ” 18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”)
- Mary is called “blessed” by every generation for the last 2000 years as a result of God’s favor upon this humble woman.
Now let us see the story of another Mary who Jesus said would be known all over the world wherever the Gospel was preached.
Mark 14 “3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
- Jesus was in the home of Simon the Leper – just think of that for a moment: a leper is shunned by society – considered a sin and a curse! But Jesus was sitting in the home of a great outcast and sinner! What amazing GRACE!
- This woman knew that Jesus was going to die and that she prepared His Body before His burial.
- Most of His disciples did not even understand that Jesus was going to die even when He told them several times. But she honored His body and prepared Him for the burial – something that no other disciple did in the Bible!
- This woman understood Jesus far better than the disciples!
- Jesus said that her story would be told wherever the Gospel is preached!
Who was this woman? She was a notorious sinner according to the Pharisees.
Luke 7 “36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”……44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
- This woman was a sinner well-known to the Pharisees and the public. She was notorious for her past sinful lifestyle.
- But she loved Jesus more because she was forgiven many sins! Jesus said that her devotion to Christ was a sign that her many sins were forgiven and she was saved by her faith in Him.
But who was this sinful woman? We see only one example of a sinful woman who was known by the Pharisees and Jesus.
John 8 “2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Can you imagine just how much this woman would have experienced the GRACE of Jesus? She was caught in sin publicly and was going to be stoned to death when Jesus SAVED her from the condemnation and set her free!
We see that this woman is Mary, the sister of Martha.
John 11 “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)”
John 12 “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Mary represents the believer who loves the Lord because she was forgiven much more than the average believer. We see the contrast between Martha and Mary here:
Luke 10 “38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Martha was busy serving the Lord but Mary was busy worshipping Him at His feet!
- Martha was worried about many things but Mary wanted only ONE thing and it would not be taken away from her!
- Mary wanted Jesus and His love more than doing the works for Him!
- Mary was blamed for wasting an expensive perfume on Jesus and was criticized for sitting at Jesus’ feet and not serving Him. But Jesus gave Her great honor! This is the Grace of our Lord – He lifts up those who are downcast and the last become the FIRST!
Now we see that this Mary was the first one to see Jesus risen from the dead! She was the one who loved Jesus more than the 12 Apostles! She was the one at the Tomb while the disciples were in their rooms.
Matthew 28 “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
We see that this Mary was the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead and she was told to tell the disciples about Him! What grace was bestowed upon this Mary who was a sinner! She was given the privilege of seeing Jesus first after His resurrection!
John 20 ” 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).”
So we have TWO wonderful stories of women named Mary:
- One who gave birth the Jesus Christ. She saw the Lord first on the earth.
- One who honored Jesus’ death and saw Christ first after He rose from the dead
What beautiful stories of GRACE and LOVE!
What about you my friend? Have you believed in this wonderful Jesus?
Today could be your day when you can see/know Jesus as Lord and Savior!
JOHN 3 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”