Humble Mary

In the United States, we are entering the season in which we will elect a president. What this means is that for the next year and three months we will hear politicians tell us why they deserve the favor of our vote to elevate them to high office.

Before all the hubbub starts in earnest, it might be refreshing to hear another voice, the voice of Mary, the future mother of Jesus, in Luke 1:46. She so humbly said, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” This statement begins what many call the “Magnificat.” Let’s view it for what it really is: a hymn of thanksgiving, the object of which was a poor maiden’s desire to make God larger than herself. Continue reading “Humble Mary”

A lesson of contrasts: Mary and Judas

The Bible does much teaching through contrast. Jesus and Satan in Matthew chapter four show the contrast of the spiritual thinking of the son of God and Satan’s temptation from selfishness.

In John 12, there is another contrast between Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Judas Iscariot, the soon-to-be betrayer.

Imagine the great emotion in the house as Jesus entered. Not too long before, Jesus had raised Mary’s brother Lazarus from the dead. Not since Elijah had anyone seen a miracle like that one. Imagine the welcome Jesus received as Lazarus, Martha, and Mary embraced the Lord. Continue reading “A lesson of contrasts: Mary and Judas”

The highly favored one

What would it have been like to have been Mary, the one who would become the mother of Jesus? We are first introduced to her just before she became pregnant.

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 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” (Luke 1:26-29 NIV). Continue reading “The highly favored one”

Behold your mother

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

In the midst of Jesus’ crucifixion, a tender moment provides insight into the hearts of a mother and a son.

Jesus is nailed to the cross and his humanity reaches its highest peak as the excruciating pain claws at his body. Lifting himself  to breathe brings even more pain as he fights against the bloody nails.

Despite the nightmare, Christ gazes down on the two most important people on the planet to him. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, stood next to Mary, Jesus’ beloved Mother. The Savior’s heart fills with love.

Decades before, Mary received a shocking message from an angel that she would bear the Messiah, despite being a virgin (Luke 1:26-38).

She was told that he would “reign over the house of Jacob” (Luke 1:33) on the “throne of David” (Luke 1:32). Undoubtedly she puzzled over these words.

Simeon told Mary that her son would be responsible for the “fall and rise of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34) and that “a sword would pierce [her] soul” (Luke 2:35).

Jesus grew and eschewed material possessions and became hated by the religious leaders of the day, who sought to kill him. Certainly Mary wondered about the prophecy.

When Jesus was betrayed by one of his own and his apostles were scattered, we wonder who came for Mary and what she thought. She loved her Son but his brothers had doubted him (John 7:1-5; Mark 3:20-21). Did any doubt creep into her heart?

Nevertheless, as her son suffered, Mary was there. She would not betray him. Her overwhelming love and resolve would lead Jesus to give her to John for the remainder of her days (John 19:25-27). Their resilient bonds overcame everything man had placed between them.

Why would he do this? Would she not be taken care of by Jesus’ siblings despite their unbelief? No one really knows a concrete answer to that question.

However, despite the unknowns, Mary goes with John and at least some of Jesus’ siblings become Christians since James and Jude wrote books of the New Testament.

Jesus’ love is John’s blessing, showing that family is solidified and re-defined in Christ and that love overcomes everything (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). No one will ever be lonely in Christ (Hebrews 13:5).

Mary’s legacy gives us comfort.

Jesus of the Pizza Pan

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
pizzajesus.jpgA Massachusetts man opened his garage and saw Jesus and, maybe, Mary looking at him from the stains of a pizza tray. From that “spiritual” experience he observed Ash Wednesday and attended his denomination’s meeting for the first time in 20 years.
People find Jesus and the “Blessed Virgin” Mary in all sorts of unlikely places: imprinted in foods, outlined in trees and in concrete, traced in plastic, cloth, wood, and rock, all supposedly by miraculous or mysterious means.
Such sightings, however, take on the character of seeing figures in the shape of the clouds. It takes a good imagination and not so much faith. Sometimes one wonders how much the possibility of appearing in a 30-second news clip influences these vain imaginations (see Romans 1:21).
What the pizza-tray owner should have seen on his dirty pan was the message kids write on the back window of dusty cars: “Wash me.” Maybe he saw something religious in the stains because of an unclean conscience.
People see Jesus everywhere around them, except for one obvious place: the Bible. In Scripture God presents the exclusive and totally accurate picture of Jesus of Nazareth, promised Messiah, Son of Man, Son of God, Lord and resurrected Savior.
When Scripture is rejected, however, it appears that the religious impulse in the human heart refuses to be squelched and therefore imprints itself wherever it can find expression. Even on a pizza pan.
Reading the Bible won’t get you on the nightly newscast, but it will, if obeyed from the heart as the infallible word of God, get you into heaven.
Meditating on Scripture and doing the divine will revealed therein won’t make Jesus pop up in the crockery, but it will restore in every heart the divine image in which we were created.
After all, isn’t it better to have Jesus stamped in the heart than on a pizza pan?
“[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10 NIV).