We are in the second week of our four-week Christmas series entitled THE REAL MARY. This series is designed for us, as evangelicals, to gain a biblical view of who Mary, the mother of Jesus, was and how the biblical view should give us a proper perspective and understanding as to who she is. Last week I talked about Mary as the willing servant. We saw that her encounter with the angel Gabriel gave us a glimpse into the heart who Mary was as I noted that she was just an ordinary girl who submitted to God and was chosen by God to do something extraordinary for the Kingdom of God. There was nothing special, humanly speaking, about her but she was the recipient of God’s grace as she was told that she would give birth to the savior of the world. As we concluded our time together last week, we read that Mary declared, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.”
The Nativity begins and ends with worship. From the moment Mary received news from the Angel Gabriel to the moment the Magi visit the child king the nativity is enveloped in worship, and first passage we will look at today proves the point. Luke 1:46 - 56 is called “Mary’s Magnificat”. The word “Magnificat” is the Latin word for glorify. This is Mary’s song or poem she sings after talking to Elizabeth in response to receiving the news from the Angel Gabriel. Mary’s sings in the presence of Elizabeth a response to the news that she is the one chosen by God to give birth to the savior of the world and her response was worship and praise. This poem is structured like a Jewish psalm and is drenched with praise to God. The inspiration for Mary’s words came from 1 Sa. 2:1–10, which is the song Hannah sang after God had given to her a son named Samuel. Mary praises God for choosing her to be the one to bring the Messiah into the world. The song is shaped around Mary’s exaltation of God.
Luke 1:46 - 56
Mary begins by praising God for who He is…
Mary then praises God for what he has done…
Worship is Followership
When we look at Mary’s song, we see it is a song of praise and worship to God. Mary has committed to fully submitting her life to God in worship. In regard to worship our hearts are formed by what we worship. The question I ask you is, “What or who do you worship? Who or what are you following?” The obvious Sunday School answer is, “I worship and follow Jesus.” However, if you truly get to the heart of the matter and you are truthful with yourself and look at what you spend your time, energy and resources on would your answer really be “Jesus”?
When I look back on my life before I became a fully committed follower of Jesus, I undoubtedly idolized music and musicians. For most of my life I was a regular church attender. I went to Sunday school as a child, and youth group as a teenager. However, from the moment I saw Peter Criss from the rock band Kiss singing the song “Beth” at the young age of six, unbeknownst to me, I was sucked into the world of idol worship. My childhood and teenage life consisted of countless hours listening to music and dreaming about becoming a rock star. When I got my first electric guitar at the age of thirteen, I diligently practiced for hours on end, and spent my hard-earned lawn mowing money on guitar lessons. From the moment I awoke in the morning to the time I fell asleep at night I was either listening to or playing music. When I joined my first band as a senior in high school, I would spend hours upon hours practicing with the band, perfecting my technic as I learned how to play multitudes of songs. Music was such an idol to me, I neglected the most important things in my life like school, family, and my very shallow to non-existent spiritual life.
I became a committed follower of Jesus around the age of 22 and I thought at the time I could mix my passion for (worship of) music with my commitment to Jesus Christ. It didn’t take long for me to realize (ironically in the middle of a song I was performing onstage) that my love for music trumped my love for Jesus. It was at this point I quit performing in my band and dedicated my life to following Jesus whole-heartedly.
Now, this is my story. My intent is not to say that rock music is bad, and you can only follow Jesus if you denounce rock -n-roll. That is not the point at all. My point is you worship what/who you invest in and submit to.
Have you ever thought this about Mary? When you think about it, the mother of Jesus also needed to submit to her Son, who was her Lord and Savior. Let that sink in for a moment. While you’re letting that soak in, turn to John 2: 1 – 5.
John 2:1 - 5
Vs 1: “a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee.” This was probably a wedding for a relative of Jesus’ or a close friendsince Mary was there and Jesus and his disciples were invited as well. The disciples in attendance were Jesus and most likely the five Jesus had with him who were Andrew, Philip, Peter, Nathaneal and the unnamed disciple (probably John). It is plausible that Mary could have been in charge of some organizational aspect of the wedding since she was the one concerned about the wine running out. This may have been her responsibility, or she could have just been concerned about the bridegroom and did not want to see him embarrassed or worse yet humiliated. Whatever the reason she went to Jesus with her concern and let him know the wine was gone.
According to historians “Wine in the ancient world was diluted with water to between one third and one tenth of its fermented strength, (i.e. something less strong than American beer). Undiluted wine, about the strength of wine today, was viewed as ‘strong drink’, and earned much more disapprobation (disapproved)”.
Vs 3: “They don’t have any wine.” Mary comes to Jesus with her concern for the wine shortage and there are a number of possible reasons she went to him.
The last, I believe was probably be the most credible. Mary knew there was something special about her son and she knew God was going to do great things through Him. After all, she was the chosen virgin to give birth to the Savior of the world. He was the Messiah; certainly, He could do something about the wine shortage.
Vs 4: “What has this concern of yours to do with me, woman?” At first glance Jesus’ response to his mother seems a bit harsh and disrespectful. However, the word “woman” is a form of address, in Koine Greek it is a way of speaking politely to a female person: In Jn 2.4 Jesus uses this word to address his mother courteously. In some ways it could be synonymous to the word “Ma’am”. When he says, “what does this have to do with me?” or “What business is this of mine?” or “Why are you involving me?” is a minor rebuke. In some ways Jesus, lovingly, is declaring to his mother that he is not under human authority (including his mother), any person’s agenda, or is not going to be manipulated into doing something (being a Genie of sorts). This isn’t rebellion against his mother, he is only stating a very important thing, His only bidding is to do the will of the Father.
From this point on Jesus had to start distancing himself from his mother. I can’t believe how difficult that would have been for Him or for her to accept. However, Jesus couldn’t allow himself to be so closely attached to his human mother because his bidding was to do all the Father had told him. From a human standpoint it is hard to imagine, but from an eternal perspective it was necessary. Mary, like everyone else needed to come to him for salvation. She had no special privileges and Jesus certainly was not distancing himself out of callousness, in a way he was distancing from her for her own good. In light of the cross his distancing was necessary.
Vs 5: “Do whatever he tells you.” As a mother she was obedient, and she trusted her son, so she says to the servants to do what he says. Her response shows that her gentle rebuke was taken, and she trusted Jesus was going to take care of things. D.A. Carson writes of this encounter “In short, in 2:3 Mary approaches Jesus as his mother and is reproached; in 2:5 she responds as a believer, and her faith is honored. She still does not know what he would do; but she has committed the matter to him and trusts him.”
When Jesus performs this miracle of turning water to wine it has a significant truth about God. So many commentators, theologians, preachers and Christians in general focus so much on the symbolism of the water and the wine and they miss the true point of this miracle. Not only does Jesus provide wine for the wedding guests, he supplies them with the finest of wine (the best) and gives it in abundance. We see here God’s grace in action. Did Jesus do this for Mary? Did he do it for the guests? or did he do it for the groom? I don’t think he did this miracle for any of these people. The purpose of this miracle was to reveal his glory so the disciples would believe in him and glorify God. It wasn’t about taking care of the guests, it wasn’t about being obedient to his mother, it was about showing a little of His glory so his followers would believe and testify of who He really is. It’s ultimately about God’s glory and grace. We see so much grace in this account, as Jesus essentially says, “I am not under any human authority nor will I be used as a Genie to give you what you want. But because God ultimately wants to be the source of all of your joy and because of my Father’s great love for humanity I will do as you ask.”
As I look over this passage, I conclude
So, we can conclude that since the original Christmas began with worship then the Christmas, we celebrate nearly 2000 years later should also begin with worship. We can remain in this season with thankfulness, praise and worship of King Jesus as we hold onto the promises He made that “whoever believes in me shall not perish but have everlasting life” and his imminent return is at hand.
What Does This Mean for Us Today?
The sad thing about Christmas is we often spend so much time preparing for, buying gifts or attending family gatherings that we begin to worship Christmas and not the Savior who represents Christmas. When we focus all of our attention and time preparing for the holiday and not on the Holy one, then we have turned to idolatry. Everything Jesus did was to show the glory of the Father. God delights in giving us good things, but he doesn’t give them to us for our benefit… He gives good things for His glory. In this wedding account we see Mary was concerned that the wine had run out. The groom will be embarrassed, the people will be angry, and Mary may ultimately look bad because this was her responsibility (if not her, someone was going to be blamed for the shortage). Jesus ultimately said, “Humans cannot tell me what to do because I am doing the will of the Father. However, because the Father has great love for you and wants to be the source of joy in every person’s life, I will take care of the issue… ONLY so I/God can be glorified and so people will believe.” If Jesus’ sole purpose in life was to show the glory of God and draw others into his presence… How much more so with us.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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