How do I live a life that matters?
In order to answer that question, we are looking at Luke 1 where Elizabeth looks at Mary and says that she has been uniquely blessed among women and we are seeing that she identifies two reasons why Mary’s life is so significant.
And really the first reason has nothing to do with her and it has everything to do with Jesus. What matters is Jesus. I think that’s really the first step to living a life that is significant. It is realizing that your life is not really all that significant.
It’s what God is doing through Jesus that is really important.
The second lesson we can learn from Mary comes from her steadfast trust in God’s revealed plan.
What matters is Jesus.
And what God wants is faith.
If you take the time to read through the gospel of Luke, you will see this is the response he’s been aiming for since the beginning.
For example, Luke 1:4.
He says he is writing, “that you may have certainty…” which means assurance in our faith.
And then in the first story about Zechariah, verses 5-25, we see how he was disciplined for his lack of faith, and then in the next story about Mary in verses 26-38, we are meant to be impressed by her faith, and here in verse 45, Elizabeth cements that, when she gives a second reason Mary is blessed.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
You can see how Elizabeth moves from blessing Mary for something we can’t imitate, blessed are you among women because you are giving birth to the Lord, to something we must imitate, blessed is she who believed, it’s almost like you can imagine her looking around as she says this, I sometimes wonder if even Zechariah is here at this point, and she is holding Mary up as an example, blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.
This is what we should really honor Mary for, this is what makes her significant, this is what we should learn from her, she believed that God would do what He said and that’s really at the core of what it means to be great as a Christian.
It’s not how much money you have, it’s not what family you came from, it’s not your education, it’s do you believe that God will do what He said?
Now when it comes to Mary, we shouldn’t honor her in any way that makes her out to be almost God, because she’s not and because when we do that, we miss the most important things we can learn from her and should respect her for. What makes Mary so important is not the ways she is unlike us, but the ways she is like us, and yet chooses to trust God.
I think this is a point that Jesus himself makes over in Luke 11:27 and 28, when after he was teaching, a woman in the crowd raises her voice and says to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed.’ And Jesus says to her, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.’”
I don’t think Jesus is denying what Elizabeth said about Mary being blessed among women, but I do think Jesus is saying, when you think about that, don’t miss the point, don’t get so focused on her uniqueness that you miss that what is really great about Mary is the same thing that can be really great about you and me as well, and that is the fact that she heard the Word of God, believed the Word of God, submitted to the Word of God, and obeyed no matter what the cost.
And really, that is as you are looking your Scriptures, is pretty much a summary of what was behind every single great person and every single great act in the whole thing.
It’s about faith. What are the stories of Abel, Abraham, Noah, Joseph, David, Daniel and pretty much every other hero about? They are as someone has written, a record of “redeemed sinners who believed and were blessed. By faith they embraced promises. By faith they lived. By faith they walked. By faith they endured hardships. By faith they looked to an unseen Savior, and good things yet to come. By faith they battled with the world, the flesh, and the devil. By faith they overcame, and got safely home. And that’s what we are seeing in Mary, and so it’s no wonder that Elizabeth said,”Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
And so if you are sitting there thinking as you read through the gospel of Luke, Jesus is just so huge, he is so important, he is going to be the eternal King of the Universe, He is Lord, what’s He going to do with someone like me, no man, Mary, Mary, she’s your example, she’s just an ordinary teenage girl, and yet God sweeps her up in this great salvation plan, and what did she have to offer, really she had nothing to offer God but trust and faith that God would do what He said He would.
How about you? People might think you are so significant, but do you trust God? Do you have faith that God will keep His promises through Jesus, because in God’s eyes, that’s what matters most.
Now, if we look closely, I think there’s a lot we can learn from Mary’s faith and we have said some of these before, but we can notice them more specifically.
One, it was a humble faith. In that, when it came to God’s Word, she wasn’t primarily concerned with the consequences it would have on her. That wasn’t her starting point. Instead, what did she say after the angel basically turned her life upside down with the announcement about her having a child before she was married? Did she say, but what about and what about? No, she said, verse 38, behold I am the servant of the Lord.
There are two religions in the world, one that starts with me at the center and God is someone I use to get what I want and then the other, that starts with God at the center, and I am the one God uses to accomplish what He wants, which is how Mary clearly saw herself, behold I am a servant of the Lord.
Two, it is an active faith. After the angel tells Mary about Elizabeth, what does Mary do, in those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country to find Elizabeth. Faith in God’s Word does something. There’s no reason for Mary to go to Elizabeth, except for what the angel told her, and she was willing to walk a hundred miles in the middle of the hill country by herself, at the beginning of her pregnancy based on what he said, and maybe too for fellowship and the strengthening of her faith.
It’s sad but some of us aren’t really even willing to cross the street for our faith, and yet Mary was so wrapped up in what God was doing, that she was willing to do something pretty counter-cultural and that is go out on a journey by herself and find Elizabeth to talk about what God was up to.
It doesn’t mean much if you say you trust God’s Word and there’s no transformation in your life. What does your faith in God’s Word get you up and doing?
Three, it was a word-centered faith. This wasn’t a faith that was in her imagination. This was a faith that was grounded in God’s revelation and you can see that when you look at what Mary says in the very next passage in Luke. She was a young woman who knew the Word of God, practically every word in her song of praise that Luke records is a quote from somewhere in the Old Testament.
There’s a lot of talk about faith today that isn’t tied to God’s Word, but faith that isn’t tied to what God said, isn’t real faith, there should be another word for it, Elizabeth points out here, what’s exciting about Mary is that she believed there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord, her faith was grounded in God’s revelation and specifically the promises regarding His great saving plan. And this is not all there is to faith, but this is a lot of it, it’s a trust in God that turns your whole way of looking at the world upside down, instead of beginning with you and what you want, you begin with Him and what He wants. It’s a trust in God that produces action, that causes you to get so excited about what God’s doing through Christ, that you make all kinds of counter-cultural decisions to put Him first, and it’s a faith, a trust that isn’t from your gut and the way you would like things to be, but instead that comes from a conviction that is grounded in God’s Word and His promises and the fact that you know without a doubt, He will do what He says.
How about you?