What Did Mary Know?
(Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash)
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
You may recall the passage in Scripture where the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her she will bear a son and call Him Jesus. After a brief exchange where the angel explains how it will happen, Mary agrees to have this child (Lk 1:26-38). Was Mary familiar with the Old Testament passages that foretold of the birth of such a child? Did she know what she was agreeing to?
Mary, Did You Know? is a contemporary Christmas song that poses several questions to Mary about what she may have or may not have known about her son. Questions beginning with "Mary, did you know that your baby boy..."
Would one day walk on water?
Will give sight to the blind?
Will calm the storm with His hand?
Would one day rule the nations?
Would save our sons and daughters?
Is the Lord of all creation?
Is heaven's perfect Lamb?
As we look at several Scriptures, we will see that there is no reason to think Mary knew everything about the life and ministry of Jesus, but there is much she would have known. If Mary knew the Scriptures that prophesied of a coming Messiah, she would have realized exactly what she agreed to when she told the angel, Gabriel, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said (Lk 1:38)."
WHAT THE ANGEL GABRIEL TELLS MARY
God sends Gabriel to tell Mary, who was a virgin and engaged to be married to Joseph, that she will soon get pregnant. He tells her not to be afraid for she has found favor with the Lord. The angel wasn't asking her; he was explaining to her that she was chosen to bear a son who:
Will be great and be called the Son of the Most High
Will be given the throne of his father, David
Will reign over the house of Jacob forever
Will have a kingdom that will never end
Will be called the Son of God
The angel also tells Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, is having a child in her old age. When Mary asks how this is possible since she is a virgin, Gabriel says, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." Mary understood that her pregnancy would be an act of God. By agreeing to bear this child, she was submitting to the will of the Lord.
MARY VISITS ELIZABETH
Next thing we know, Mary is running off to visit Elizabeth. She has just been told that her cousin is six months pregnant. But before Mary can even say, "Congratulations!" Elizabeth starts prophesying. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit when her baby "leaps" in her womb, and she says, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!" (Lk 1:42) Elizabeth is confirming what the angel said, and Mary immediately breaks into a prophetic song (Lk 1:46-55). Today we call her song the Magnificat, from the first word of the Latin translation meaning "magnifies." The Ryrie Study Bible note says "there are fifteen discernible quotations from the O.T. in this poem, showing how much the O.T. was known and loved in the home in which Jesus was reared."
MARY STAYS THREE MONTHS
Mary stays with Elizabeth for three months. Let's assume that during this time, Zechariah and Elizabeth's son, John, is born. When they take John to get circumcised on the eighth day, Mary is there; she witnesses everything that happens. By now, Mary has heard all about the events surrounding this child; how the angel Gabriel had also visited Zechariah and told him that Elizabeth would bear a son and they would name him John (later known as John the Baptist). He would be no ordinary child, but would:
be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth
be used by God to turn many Israelites to the Lord
move in the spirit and power of Elijah
prepare the people for the coming of the Lord
turn the hearts of the fathers to their children
cause the rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly
Since Zechariah challenged Gabriel, he lost his ability to speak until John's circumcision. In contrast, Mary believed what the angel said. But as soon as Zechariah could speak again, he began to praise the Lord. He, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. This song is what we call the Bendictus from the first word of the Latin translation meaning "blessed" or "praise." The NLT note says, "This hymn expects God's Messiah to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. Salvation entails physical deliverance and forgiveness of sins." Zechariah prophesies the Savior would come through the line of David which we see is true of Jesus when we read both His genealogy in Matthew 1 and Luke 3:23-38. Mary hears the whole thing!
Malachi predicted that God would send a messenger to prepare the way (Mal 3:1) and this messenger's preaching would turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (Mal 4:5-6). Later, Jesus identifies John the Baptist as this messenger (Lk 7:27).
As Mary saw what was happening before her eyes, her faith was strengthened for the day she would bear the Son of God. We know Mary knew what the Scriptures said, she was one who pondered things in her heart (Lk 2:19), and she received confirmation as to what the angel had told her. Did Mary know everything about Jesus beforehand? Probably not, but she knew enough to know her son would be the Savior of the world.
Kutless: Mary Did You Know? (song)