SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 1:26-38
Today’s focus calls us to discover the Personal Context as it relates to Mary.
MARY… A VIRGIN VS27
What did Gabriel mean by the term “virgin”? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists three definitions for the word.
1. …a person who has not yet experienced sexual relations.
2. …a person who is inexperienced in a specific endeavor or activity.
3. …an unmarried female (without regard to sexual activeness).
Which of these is Luke indicating? Luke chose the word parthenos… a word used exclusively for females who were not married and not yet sexually active.
This correlates with the prophecy given by Isaiah. (Isaiah 7:14) Take note that this is the very passage that “the angel of the Lord” pointed Joseph to, as he fell asleep contemplating what he was going to do with Mary, who had announced to him that she was with child. Matthew 1:19-23
QUESTION: Why is a “virgin” conception important anyway?
TRUTH POINT: God’s salvation plan called for a Savior who was untainted with the human sin nature. Genesis 3:15 “Seed of the women.”
OK, but there’s a problem here:
• women don’t have seed!
• They have “eggs,” that must be seeded.
• It’s the male who carry’s reproductive “seed.”
Was God mistaken? - On the contrary…
• The Savior God promised had to be human, that’s why He would come through “woman.” Hebrews 2:14-15
• He could not have the “seed” of Adam because he was the one who sinned with eyes wide open. Adam Rebelled – Eve was deceived.
• Although women have a sin nature, it seems the sin nature is passed to offspring through the seed of man.
• If Jesus were conceived by the “seed” of man, he would have man’s sin nature. If the “seed” of man were omitted, the child would be human, but NOT have an inherited sin nature.
This is why the issue of
Virgin conception ~vs~ No Virgin conception
TRUTH POINT: If Mary conceived by way of normal sexual relations, the child would be the “seed” of man. If she were a virgin, the child would not be of man and by necessity be a miracle act of God Himself.
The point of Mary being a VIRGIN is NOT just doctrinal wrangling, but of the utmost importance. It marks the difference of her child being a sinner like everyone else, or being the spotless Lamb of God.
MARY… HIGHLY FAVORED – VS 28
At first glance, Gabriel’s greeting seems unremarkable. Yet we find that it was unnerving to Mary. VS29 tells us that she was troubled, not so much by Gabriel’s presence, but by his words.
• How am I favored?
• Why am I favored?
• I am a young, uneducated, unsophisticated, girl from Nazareth engaged to a carpenter?
• Look up ORDINARY in the dictionary and my picture is there!
What did Gabriel mean by this statement?
He was announcing that God had chosen Mary to be the recipient of uncommon, Divine Grace. The nature of said Grace to be the supernatural ability to conceive and carry to term, the Christ-Child.
The point of Gabriel’s announcement indicated that God would GIVE HER this uncommon grace.
PROBLEM: Based on an errant translation in the Latin Vulgate, which rendered “Mary “favored one,” as “Mary “full of grace”… the Roman Catholic Church created a teaching which led to Mary being worshipped as a co-dispenser of saving Grace with Jesus.
The fundamental problem is this:
• As Mary “favored one” = Mary is devoid of any intrinsic grace and is about to be blessed by God bestowing grace upon her.
• As Mary “full of grace” = Mary is by nature filled with Divine Grace and thus is NOT a recipient, but a giver of grace.
The teaching of May being “full of grace” has been put into “prayer form” called the Ave Maria to reinforce the teaching…
Hail Mary, Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art though among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now,
And at the hour of our death. Amen.
This goes deeper than a simple prayer. According to Papal proclamation, The Roman Catholic Church took the position of “full of grace” thus elevating Mary to the same status as Jesus.
Pope Pius X: encyclical Ad Deim Lillum Laetissimum: hailed Mary as the “…dispensatrix (feminine distributor) of all the gifts that Our Savior Purchased for us by His Death and by His Blood; the supreme ministry of the distribution of graces, the distributor …of the treasures of His merits.”
Pope Leo XIII: encyclical Octobri Mense writes: “Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God.”
Pope Pius IX: encyclical Ineffabilis Deus: said: Mary is “…the seat of all divine graces …adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit… an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts.”
In his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott writes: “Since Mary’s assumption into Heaven (resurrection and ascension just like Jesus) no grace is conferred on man without her actual intercessory co-operation.”
TRUTH POINT: Words Matter! This is why great care must be taken to ensure that we understand and translate God’s Word correctly. It underscores the importance of getting our doctrine from Scripture alone rather than the pronouncements of men.
Is Gabriel announcing that God is going to bestow uncommon grace upon Mary… OR …is he announcing that Mary is a person possessing said grace in her own right?
• One view leads us to recognize and celebrate Mary’s unique blessing from God.
• The other view to seek her for Divine blessing.
Gabriel’s statement is clear, both in the words used and in Mary’s understanding of them. God is favoring her, bestowing grace to be His vessel to bring The Son of God into the realm of humanity.
She is NOT the dispenser of any grace, to anyone, but like you and me, the needy recipient of the grace her Son would win at The Cross.