My second point is this, Mary is a mentor to us because she was noted for her humility and her servant's heart.
We have largely been robbed of Mary as a role model because of certain traditions in church history. Beginning in the second century, there was—particularly in the Western forms of Christianity—a flight as it were from the historical into the theological; a flight from the physical into the metaphysical. Because of their Greco-Roman orientation, the Church Fathers were preoccupied with that which is otherworldly and they lost sight of the significance of history and the physical world which God made and called good.
In the third and fourth centuries, there were certain forces at work which took and elevated this Jewish woman Miriam to a metaphysical status. As early as the fourth century, she is referred to as the Theotokos, the mother of God. In Roman and Orthodox church history, she became exalted to a level of near-deity or certainly divinity.
By way of reaction to something out of balance, a case can be made that Protestants took flight from the feminine. Not only have we taken flight from the historical and gone into the theological, not only have we taken flight from the physical and gone into the metaphysical, in many ways we have taken flight from the feminine, from Mary. As a result, we tend to struggle relating to that which is truly masculine. I explore that subject in-depth in a series called, In His Image.
For now, I just want to introduce that idea and say to you that an essential part of the church being restored to its Hebraic heritage is to reclaim the man, Yeshua—the historical, physical person, Jesus of Nazareth. In the same way, I want to suggest that part of our heritage should include a reclamation of Mary whose Hebrew name was Miriam.
Here is the second commendable characteristic of Miriam, she is noted for her humility and servant's heart. Miriam models true humility in her response to the angelic visitation and announcement. She faces the facts and she asks a hard question, which to me is pretty remarkable.
If Gabriel showed up here tonight I dare say there is not going to be many of us who say, "Excuse me, can I ask a question?" If we could even get up off the floor, we would not be inclined to speak. But this little girl asked a question, "Excuse me, how can this be? I am a virgin." The angel says, "It is going to be a work of the Holy Spirit."
What is even more impressive is that Miriam exhibits an authentic humility, she does not focus on her unworthiness or her inadequacy. If an angel said, "I have a special mission for you" what would be a typical Christian response? "Who me? I can't do that. I am not worthy." This is not authentic humility.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking about yourself less.
Miriam is passionate for God and to see his purposes accomplished. This is the foundation of her humility. She does not shrink back but stands in the fear of the LORD which is the beginning of wisdom. She is humble, getting her eyes off herself and fixing them on the good news of the coming King.
And this girl's got spunk. Now, I know you are conditioned to think of her as that peaceable little woman on Christmas cards. The biblical witness is that this young woman has spunk (there is a good Hebrew word for this, chutzpah). Miriam is only a teenager. One of the three Archangels appears to her and announces, "You are going to supernaturally conceive the Messiah, the king of the universe." What does she say in her humility? Look at Luke 1:38 and listen carefully to her powerful response.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The angel makes this extraordinary announcement, assures her that nothing is impossible with God and in her humility—without quibbling—without focusing on herself or insufficiency, her inadequacy or failings, she simply responds, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
She has the heart of a servant. The word here in Greek is the female form of slave (doulos). "Behold, I am the slave of the Lord." It is the equivalent of saying as her son will later say, "Thy will be done." This is a woman who has a remarkable strength of character, especially in one so young. True humility is not weakness, it is divine strength. I have no doubt that Miriam's strength of character is something she imparted to her son, Yeshua.
Would to God that we would all have her attitude and fortitude. Let us say together, "Whatever you need for the sake of the kingdom LORD count me in because with you nothing is impossible!"
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