The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”
—Luke 1:30

Throughout the history of the church Christians have gone to one of two extremes when it comes to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Some Christians exalt Mary to a high position that is totally unbiblical. For example, some have taught that Mary is a mediator between God and man. Yet the Word of God says, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Others have taught the immaculate conception of Mary. This doctrine believes that just as Jesus was sinless, Mary was also sinless. But there is nothing in Scripture to support that. Mary refers to God as her “Savior” (Luke 1:47). You don’t need a savior unless you are a sinner. Mary understood that.

Still others talk about the perpetual virginity of Mary. This is the idea that not only was Mary a virgin when she gave birth to Christ, but she also remained a virgin throughout her entire life. The problem with that idea is the Bible tells us Jesus had brothers and sisters. “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:55-56). Jesus had brothers and sisters, and they came about the old-fashioned way. Mary and Joseph had children. There is no perpetual virginity of Mary.

Now, in response to this unbiblical position about Mary, other Christians have gone to another extreme. These Christians have not wanted to lift up Mary higher than what the Bible says about her. So instead of exalting Mary, they have gone to the opposite extreme and ignored Mary. Think about it: when is the last time you heard a sermon about Mary, the mother of Jesus? When is the last time you read a book about Mary? In many churches, the only time Mary is ever seen or talked about is in her once-a-year appearance in the Christmas pageant–and even then she doesn’t usually speak. So we ignore her, and that is just as much an unbiblical position about Mary as exalting her.

The gospel of Luke gives us a proper balance in understanding Mary, the mother of Jesus. He neither deifies her nor ignores her. Instead, Luke paints Mary as somebody whose character should be admired and whose faith ought to be imitated. And that is what we are going to see this week as we talk about Mary, a young girl whom God used in an extraordinary way.

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