Mark Lowry, according to his own words, has one hit song, “Mary Did You Know?” The song has been covered by several mainstream artists. It is a Christmas standard, and will no doubt endure time.
It was only a matter of time before music / lyric critics analyzed the song. On social media, one can read statements like, “yes, Mary did know.”
This isn’t news, but the holiday season is filled with inaccurate accounts of our savior’s nativity. Ask my wife. She will tell you that for years that I have displaced the magi from the manger scene, to a separate table, marked “two years later.”
This doesn’t go well, as one can imagine.
Mary didn’t ride a donkey to Bethlehem. The innkeeper isn’t named, and there is no record of him/her being grouchy. We have no idea how many wisemen there were. The king isn’t asking for peace, he’s trying to kill Jesus. There is no little drummer boy.
All of that doesn’t ruin the Christmas story!
What Mary knew or didn’t know doesn’t change the miracle of Christ coming to earth. Still, it begs the question, what did Mary know?
- Mary knew that she was a virgin, engaged to married. It wasn’t the angel’s announcement that made her a virgin, or the text that would be scrutinized for centuries; she knew. A woman knows if she’s a virgin! Mary testified (Luke 1:34) “how can this be, since I do not know a man?” Believe it or not, this one issue has been one of the most argued over parts of the Christmas story. Certain translations of the Bible read “a young woman.” I would submit that Joseph was a virgin as well, because the gospel of Matthew testifies that he didn’t have sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus was born, (Matthew 1:25).
Why is this important? Prophetically speaking, it means that what Isaiah said, came to pass! “A virgin shall conceive…” (Isaiah 7:14). Practically, it means that two persons committed themselves to a holy lifestyle. I suppose that it seems antiquated, but God is still looking for holy and set apart people to work through.
2. Mary knew that she was going to bear the Son of God. The Jewish people of that day longed for Messiah / Christ to come, (the Jewish people of today long for the same!). When the angel announced the specifics of the birth of Jesus, Mary received the information as it related to the coming of Messiah. It was after her inquiry, “how can this be?”, that the angel continued to inform her that Jesus would be “the holy one…the son of God.” A few verses later, Mary says, “let it be, as you have said.”
What does it mean, that we would spiritually respond in kind? God is still looking for vessels to incarnate himself into. Her will was the key. Our will is the key.
3. Mary knew that life would not be normal for her. When Jesus was taken to the temple for circumcision, two prophets were there. Mary was told that her soul would be pierced. Mary “treasured these things in her heart.” As Jesus grew, she began to realize the difference; from when Jesus remained behind to discuss Torah, to when she insisted that He perform a miracle, to when she and Jesus’ half brothers & sisters showed up to take Jesus back home.
Historically speaking, when God reveals Himself to anyone, no one has the full understanding. Faith is believing what God said, accepting what He reveals, and moving forward into it. Did Mary know? Yes and no. The God of revelation performed a miracle through her, and now, as Mary testified, “all generations will call me [her] blessed.”
Amen, Mary. We are blessed.