At the Foot of the Cross: Lessons from Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Blessings to you on this Good Friday. This week we have been journeying toward the cross, acquainting ourselves with three women along the way. Each of these women was named Mary, each lived at the time that Jesus walked this earth, and each found freedom through a close relationship with Him.
Today, we stop at the foot of the cross, where we discover the only Mary — indeed the only person — who witnessed both Christ’s birth and His death. And from the time we meet her we find that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a woman who pressed on through every circumstance she faced.
Mary pressed on in obedience
When her Creator called her to be the mother of His One and Only Son, Mary pressed on in obedience. She looked past the sorrow of derailed wedding plans and accepted her assignment. She lived free above the fray of society’s judgment, which, in those days, could have ended in her execution, and kept her eyes fixed on her God.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b]29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 ESV)
Mary pressed on in worship
Aware of the potential reaction of her betrothed and her community, Mary “went with haste” to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized immediately that Mary was pregnant with her Lord. Mary responded in immediate worship to God:
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55 ESV)
Mary Pressed on in Courage
In her final month of pregnancy, Mary pressed on to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey to submit to government leadership. Then, as a new young mom, she pressed on to a foreign land when that same government threatened her child’s life.
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.[c…” (Luke 2:1-7; ESV)
“Now when the (wise men) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-15)
Mary Pressed on in Her Sorrows
At her son’s dedication, the temple priest prophesied of deep sorrows to come for the mother of our Savior. Mary pressed on through each of them, perhaps not just to prepare her for the ultimate sorrow of her son’s death, but also to empathize with the sorrows her son faced himself.
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord . . . 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:22-35 ESV)
Mary Pressed on in Letting Go and Letting God
After 30 years as a devoted son to Mary, a day came when Jesus suddenly greeted Mary as “woman” rather than “mother.” Heartbreaking as that release must have been, Mary pressed on in letting go, knowing that the time had come for Him to turn fully in service to His heavenly Father and the call on His life. And when that call resulted in Christ’s crucifixion, His mother, Mary, pressed on to the cross, where she stood in silent surrender to the Father’s plan, perhaps trusting that beauty somehow would arise from these ashes, as they had so many times before.
Beauty did arise! On that first Easter morning more than 2000 years ago, Jesus rose from his grave, overcoming not just death, but also the sins of the world that hold each of us captive. And when she stood with her sons and other believers in the Upper Room, Mary, the mother of Jesus, pressed on in the Promise of New Life, as her son became her resurrected Savior! Mary became the only person to see Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection, and she has eternity to celebrate God’s gracious gift through His Son Jesus!
And we can celebrate that same gift! The three Marys of Easter have taught us life-giving lessons:
- Whatever circumstance is trying to hold us down, we find freedom at the feet of our Savior.
- When the pendulum swings between creature comforts and worldly demands, we live free by staying closing to Christ.
- When God’s assignments seem daunting and larger than life, we press on with our Savior and answer the call. And we are astounded by the powerful grace of our Lord.
Friends, when we encounter Jesus, He changes everything. Our whole life CHANGES. Our whole life becomes about following Him and serving him. And in doing so, we find FREEDOM! This Easter, may you hear the words of John 3:16-18 more perfectly than ever before, and may you find New Life that is sublime, free above the fray! Have a blessed holiday!
“For God so loved that world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned. Whoever does not believe is condemned already because He has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)
The Sublime Soiree © April 1, 2021