Chuck Foreman – Teaching / Missions Pastor
When Mary returned home to Nazareth from visiting her relative, Elizabeth (who was soon to become the mother of John the Baptist), she was already 3 months pregnant and still unmarried. People knew. She was showing. Jesus was raised by a woman who knew awkward! But she didn’t care. Her obedience to God was more important than what people were saying and thinking about her. As she told the angel, she was, first & foremost, “the Lord’s servant.” She was determined to carry out her role in God’s plan to give a Savior to the world—no matter how much it cost her. And you can bet this whole thing was not without great cost to this young Jewish woman.
This poem/song she sang in response to her experience of God’s massive favor reveals a humble, poor young woman who is extremely grateful, to have simply been noticed by God. She recognized, as she reflected on her own self, that those who fear the Lord, like she did, receive his mercy. In her humility, she had a keen awareness that, if you are proud, God will bring you down. But if you are humble, he will lift you up!
Interestingly, Mary’s experience of finding favor with God did not make her arrogant. (She didn’t strut around saying, “Don’t care about your perception; this is immaculate conception! Didn’t need no guy to find favor in my God’s eye!”) On the contrary, it made her all the more humble. Her experience with God gave her clearer insight into God’s heart—that he was actually on the side of the hungry, not the self-sufficient rich who felt no need for God. This outlook on life, this sensitivity to the plight of those around her, carried over into the life of her son, Jesus.
Even Jesus, the ultimate Servant, the One who said about himself, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”— Even that guy had a MOM! And his Mom referred to herself like this: “I am the Lord’s servant.” That was her identity. Her personal identity, her self-image, was all wrapped up in who she was in relation to God—she was his servant, and she knew it, without reservation and without hesitation!
That’s how she defined herself! And it enabled her to tell God, “Have your way with me.”
Your Identity? Since it’s Mother’s Day today, Ladies, in whom or what do you find your identity? Is your identity tied to your social status, your career, your husband’s career, your personal accomplishments, to what you own? How do you see yourself? How do you want others to see you? If you were asked to define/describe your over-arching life’s vocation (and I’m asking J), What would you say? Could you say, like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant”?
…Until Jesus! Traditionally, in nearly every culture, women have found, and some still find themselves as servants, not to the Lord, but to men. Their role in relation to men, or a man, is what defines them. Not much thought was given to a woman’s role as a distinct person, separate from a man, and in direct relation to God—all by her special self! …Until Jesus!
- Did you know that Jesus had some female disciples? (Luke 8:1-3)
- Did you know that Paul had female co-workers? (Romans 16)
- Did you know that God’s Spirit is no respecter of persons? OT Prophet Joel—God’s New Deal, Peter’s Light Bulb Moment. (Acts 2:17-18)
BIG Idea: A woman’s identity is found, not in her relationship to a man, but in her relationship to God. The greatest expression of our personhood, male or female, is that we are servants of the Lord!