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Mary: The Messiah’s Mother

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2022 12:01 am

Mary: The Messiah’s Mother

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 20, 2022 12:01 am

Of the billions of women who have ever lived, only one was blessed with the singular privilege of bearing the Son of God. Today, R.C. Sproul considers the unique role that Mary, the mother of Jesus, serves in the history of redemption.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind… The message Gabriel brought was good news. Mary would be the mother of Jesus.

For that reason, some have elevated Mary beyond scriptural bounds, even calling her the mother of God. Let's discover how we should understand her role. Here's R.C. Sproul. The first job I ever had as a young man was working in a shoe repair shop. My boss was a huge bear of a man who was Croatian by ancestry, and he was beloved by the boys in our town. Everybody called him Uncle Ned.

Well, I worked as a shoeshine boy in Uncle Ned's shoe repair shop and also helped with some menial tasks that required no craftsmanship. But every night in that shoe repair shop, it was Ned's tradition to listen to the rosary on the radio. I believe the program was called the Catholic Hour. And I had to listen to this every night, even though I was not Catholic in my religious affiliation. And I got so that I could shine shoes in rhythm to the rosary as we would listen to the same intonations night after night. And they would start off with the words, Hail Mary, full of grace. Blessed art thou among women. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

And then we would hear, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and the hour of our death. Amen. I still see Uncle Ned every now and then.

Whenever I go back to Pittsburgh, I always make it a point to visit Ned. And we still joke about my discipline in the shoe shop, having to listen to the rosary every night. And I still remember a little bit of it. But it wasn't until years later when I read the Scriptures for the first time that I understood and saw that much of the language of that had been taken directly from the New Testament. The recitation of the rosary dates to the earliest times in Christian history, except for the addition of the phrase, Holy Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and the hour of our death.

That was not added until the fifteenth century and did not become formally authorized until the sixteenth century, until the year 1568 by Pope Pius V. But the beginnings of that consideration, as I said, are taken from the narrative account of the infancy narratives of Jesus. The great hymn, Ave Maria, is taken from the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary, when this archangel was sent to this obscure village by God to announce to Mary the miraculous event that was soon to take place. The words Ave Maria in Latin simply mean Hail Mary. And the word Ave, or hail, is not a statement of adoration or worship or anything like that. It is simply the old Roman Latin form of greeting. It's like saying, Hello, Mary.

Well, let's look for a moment. Let's look for a moment at this incident that Luke records for us in the very first chapter of his gospel. We read in chapter 1 of Luke, beginning in verse 26, these words, Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, Hail, highly favored one. The Lord is with you.

Blessed are you among women. Now I'm aware in this Christmas season that there is a serious ongoing controversy that divides Roman Catholics from Protestants on the role and the significance and the importance of Mary in redemptive history. And it has been a Protestant complaint for centuries that Rome gives far too much attention and assigns far too much importance to Mary. And often as a reaction to that, Protestants have a tendency to minimize and underestimate the importance of this woman. During this Christmas season, I want us to take a second glance at the role that Mary occupies in the New Testament record of the birth and of the life of Jesus.

One of the things that all Christians have in common is an embracing of the essential truths that were affirmed in the great ecumenical councils of the third and fourth and fifth centuries, councils like the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century and the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century, in which the church so strongly and clearly affirmed her faith in the deity of Christ. But in these ecumenical creeds, we find a title that is given to Mary that has often been misunderstood. The Greek form of that title that was confessed in the early church was the word theotokos, which means literally, mother of God. It was that phrase that was adopted later into the rosary, holy Mary, mother of God, theotokos.

Protestants objected to and still object to praying to Mary and asking Mary to pray for us. But because of that point of the controversy, some have shrunk back in horror at the suggestion that Mary could be regarded as theotokos, as mother of God. But when the church made that confession, the church was not saying by any means anything so crass as to suggest that Jesus derived His divine nature from Mary. But really what the church was saying by that title theotokos, mother of God, was that Mary was the woman who bore a son, which son was truly the son of God.

And that the church certainly affirmed that Christ had a human nature, but also that Christ had a divine nature, which nature was not derived from Mary, but Mary was the mother of the one who was God incarnate. And no mother in all of human history ever had the sacred responsibility of rearing a child who was Emmanuel, who was the very Son of God. And so when we look back at the text text of the visitation of the angel Gabriel to this village of Nazareth in Galilee, I want us to look and try to get inside the skin for a moment of this young girl, this peasant girl whose life is turned upside down by the intrusion of a mysterious visitor who comes from heaven itself and gives her an announcement that will shake her to the core and will shake the core of all humanity.

Gabriel comes. Gabriel is sent as God's messenger, as God's spokesman to the city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin who is betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And when he approaches her, he greets her, Are they Maria? Hail Mary, full of grace, which the translation I'm reading from the New King James Version of the Bible translates, highly favored one.

That in itself has been a matter of controversy. Rome looks at this text to say that the angel is recognizing in Mary one who herself is filled with such grace that she can be a vessel of grace to other people, that she is the mother of grace, bestowing grace upon her children. Protestant interpretation of the text understands it this way, that Mary isn't the mother of grace. She's the daughter of grace. She's not the one who bestows grace. She is the one who receives grace. And that when the angel, Gabriel, says, Hail Mary, full of grace, it means that you have been uniquely chosen to receive unprecedented favor from God, that you among all women that have ever lived have been selected to be the mother of the Christ child, not because you've earned it.

This is not a matter of merit. This is a matter of grace, that you have received the gracious favor of God. The Lord is with you, and blessed are you among women. In Jewish families, one of the bleakest things that could ever occur to a woman was that she would be rendered childless or barren. We remember the anguish of Elizabeth when she was unable to conceive, or Sarah in the Old Testament when she had to deal with her barrenness before God in his mercy made her fertile with the birth of Isaac. Well, even today, when we don't have the same esteem for the bearing of children, where we sanction abortion by the millions, where we turn a jaundiced eye towards the sanctity of life and towards the sanctity of birth, even in our jaded culture, there are countless women who still see giving birth to a child as among the highest treasures of blessedness they can ever enjoy. And yet, with the great blessing that attends the birth of a child, no woman save one has ever been so blessed among women as to be given the singular privilege and honor of bearing the Son of God. And so, Gabriel appropriately says to this maiden, blessed art thou among women.

Well, he goes on in the first chapter of Luke. In this narrative, as Luke tells us something of Mary's response, in verse 29, we read this, But when she saw him, she was troubled at this saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Who wouldn't be troubled if in the midst of their day suddenly they were visited by the appearance of an angel? Gabriel's mere presence was enough to terrify anyone.

Terrify anyone. But not only does he appear before Mary, but he speaks to her, and he speaks strange things to her ears. Blessed art thou among women.

You are highly favored. You are full of grace. What can this possibly mean? And obviously, Mary is frightened. And Gabriel knows that she is frightened, and so he says to her, Do not be afraid, Mary. I haven't come here to bring the judgment of God. I haven't come to you to announce bad tidings. I haven't visited you with an oracle of doom from on high. Fear not, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

I'm bringing good news. For behold, you will conceive in your womb, and you will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, and he will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of the most high God. He will give him the throne of his father, David. Do you hear what Mary is hearing? Don't be afraid, Mary. You're going to have a child, but it's not going to be an ordinary child. Your child will be the Son of the Most High God. Your child will occupy the fallen booth of David. Mary, you're going to be the mother of a king. Mary, you are going to bear in your womb the Messiah. Now, if Mary was troubled before she heard that message, her distress is only increased, and Mary said to the angel, how can this be, since I know not a man? The angel answered her question.

The angel was sensitive to her utter consternation. How can this be? I'm a virgin. I can't have a child. I mean, people to this day still stumble over the miraculous character of the virgin birth, and they're still saying, how can this be? They're raising all kinds of questions of skepticism about this biological singularity. They say, this is impossible.

Well, they're in good company. The first person who heard the story of the virgin birth was equally skeptical, and this woman said, how can this possibly be? I may not be sophisticated in my understanding of biology, and I may just be a young girl, but I know how babies are born.

I don't know a man. The angel answered and said to her, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the highest will overshadow you. Therefore also, the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

For indeed, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and she is now in the sixth month for her who was barren. For with God, nothing will be impossible. Mary, I understand that what I've just told you sounds incredible. It sounds completely impossible, because the normal laws of nature make this unthinkable. But I've come from God, the author of nature, who has the power to act contra naturum against nature, who has the power to overrule the laws of nature, which laws are His laws.

And in His court, He always has the supreme authority to pound the gavel and say, objection overruled. How can this be? Let me tell you how it can be, said Gabriel. The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The power of the Most High God will overshadow you.

The same creative power and force that operated in the creation of the universe when God the Holy Spirit hovered over the primordial waters, and God said, let there be light, and there was light. So that same Spirit of God will overshadow you, and life will spring in your womb so that the one that you bear will be called the Son of God. And immediately, Mary surrendered to the messenger, saying, let it be to me according to thy word. If you are speaking for God, and God wants me to be the mother of His Son, if God wants me to be Theotokos, let it be.

I am willing, and it was. Let me suggest to you that it is virtually certain that God will never ask you to acquiesce or to surrender to such a supernatural task that was given to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She bore the one whose obedience earned for us sufficient merit to fulfill the demands of God upon us for righteousness. Mary's obedience adds nothing to that merit. Mary is not our Redeemer. She's the mother of our Redeemer.

We understand that. But she does display an example of willing submission and obedience to the commandment of God that is a noteworthy model for every human being, for every woman, for every mother, for every father, for every man. And she does not have a mother, for every father, for every man. When she says to Gabriel, be it so even unto me according to the will of God, she expresses the faith that God asks from every Christian. Let it be your faith this Christmas. That is great clarity today from our teacher, R.C.

Sproul. We are concentrating on Dr. Sproul's series, Messiah is Born, this week here on Renewing Your Mind. And as the week progresses, we're learning how the birth of Christ affects not only our redemption, but all of human history. It's an important series for your family as you seek to understand the real meaning of Christmas.

We'd like for you to have all five messages. Just contact us today with a donation of any amount, and we'll make the series available to you as a digital download. Plus, we'll send you the DVD of Dr. Sproul's series, What Did Jesus Do? That's a 12-part series that shows us why Jesus' life was so important.

R.C. explains what it means for Jesus to be the second Adam, and what that means for us as believers today. So request both of these resources when you go to renewingyourmind.org or when you call us.

Our number is 800-435-4343. I think many of us understand the importance of Christ's atoning sacrifice and the significance of His resurrection, but we may not realize the significance of the life that Jesus led before His death and resurrection. Let's listen to a sample of what you'll hear in Dr. Sproul's series, What Did Jesus Do?

What we celebrate at Christmas is not so much the birth of a baby, as important as that is, but what's so significant about the birth of that particular baby is that in this birth we have the incarnation of God Himself. And incarnation means a coming in the flesh. We know how John begins his gospel, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So in that very complicated introductory statement, he distinguishes between the Word and God, and then the next breath identifies the two. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. And then at the end of the prologue he says, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, in this enfleshment, if you will, of Christ appearing on this planet, it's not that God suddenly changes through a metamorphosis into a man so that the divine nature sort of passes out of existence or comes into a new form of fleshiness.

No, the incarnation is not so much a subtraction as it is an addition, where the eternal second person of the Trinity takes upon Himself a human nature and joins His divine nature to that human nature for the purpose of redemption. We will send you all 12 messages of What Did Jesus Do? on a single DVD, plus we'll provide the digital download of the series we're hearing this week, Messiah is Born. Request both resources with your gift of any amount when you go online to renewingyourmind.org or when you call us. Our number again is 800-435-4343. Well, the New Year is just ahead, and your year-end financial gifts make this ministry possible in 2023. So would you consider making a contribution that will fuel this outreach around the world? On behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligonier Ministries, let me thank you in advance. And I hope you'll join us again tomorrow as Dr. Sproul continues his series, Messiah is Born. Even though the entrance of Christ into this world comes in the circumstances of oppression, where He is virtually incognito and sent to a cave to be born, yet a very short distance away, there is an explosion of glory. We'll learn about that glory of Christmas tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-22 13:04:12 / 2022-12-22 13:11:53 / 8

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