It feels like every year, we have a new Christmas song everyone is mad about. Last year it was “Baby it’s cold outside,” and this year it’s “Mary Did You Know?” Well, let me tell you, after writing a lot of Bible lessons the answer is: “Yes, and No.”
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Mary Did You Know?
In case you haven’t been on Facebook for the past few weeks, here’s the general premise, usually shared in a meme.
“Yes, Mary freakin’ knew! She had an angel come and tell her!”
The poster will then go on to tell us how much they hate the song, and how it discounts Mary, and all she did, and they go on for a long time.
Let’s break it down Biblically.
Yes, Mary knew
As the meme says, “A freaking angel came and told her!”
It says so right here in Luke 1:30-33
“30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Breaking that down:
- God is favoring Mary and she is going to give birth to a son and call Him Jesus.
- Jesus means Deliverer, or as sometimes translated “God will save”
- He will be great and Son of the Most High (which grammar check says should be Highest, it obviously isn’t poetic)
- by inference, that means Jesus is the son of God
- God will give Him the throne of David, and He will reign forever
- this is a fulfillment of several prophecies from the Old Testament
This is what she learns when the angel Gabriel comes and talks to her.
More proof Mary knew
She then travels on to her cousin Elizabeth, and sings a song of praise, called the Magnificat or Canticle of Mary.
Totally going to admit I love the word Magnificat. It just sounds cool, now getting back to Mary Did You Know?
Let’s look at that, it’s in Luke 1:46-55.
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Here’s what Mary says:
- first she spends some time praising God and all God has done for her
- then she spends more time praising God
- and finishes it up with a praise to God
Nothing more about her upcoming son to be learned.
Mary did you know the prophecies?
All right, let’s look at the prophecies, to do that we’re going to head over to Matthew.
For those of you who don’t know, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience, and he does a pretty good job of detailing the prophecies the common Jew was expecting the Messiah to fulfill. Now, Biblical scholars can tell you of hundreds of prophecies Jesus fulfilled, and they can pick out a few dozen easily from Isaiah. I’m also not going to list all of them, just a few easy to discuss that are relevant to the song “Mary Did You Know?”
- the coming Messiah would be from the line of David (2 Samuel)
- born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
- He will rule forever (Isaiah 9)
- He will heal the sick and the lame and bring justice (Isaiah 61)
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The song itself sings:
“The blind will see, the lame will walk, the dead will live again”
Reading the passage from Isaiah, it sure sounds like Mary should know what’s coming.
Mary acted like she knew
Jesus’ first public miracle was instigated by Mary. Jesus turned the water into wine.
This meme always cracks me up. Mary was the one who was sure Jesus could save the couple’s wedding. She was the one who said, “Jesus, fix this.”
Mary certainly believed.
But, Mary also didn’t know
It’s one thing to read a prophecy and know about it, and it’s a completely different thing to read it and realize it’s coming true right before your eyes.
No one expected the Savior Jesus was. Do you know what they were looking for?
They were looking for Jesus in Revelation when Jesus comes to kick butt and take names. They were looking for Jesus the conquering hero.
Not the Jesus who saw the woman in sin, and picked her up from where the Pharisees had thrown her in judgment and said, “Where are those who condemned you?”
“Gone,” she answered.
“Nor do I condemn you, go and sin no more,” He answered.
Or the Jesus who stood silent before the Romans when they accused Him. Picture from the Passover Easter lesson.
No one was looking for the Messiah who came.
Mary also forgot sometimes
Mary knew, and she encouraged Jesus in his ministry, but she also forgot.
“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.””
Later in verse 31
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
So at some point, after singing that amazing song, and telling Jesus “I believe you can save this wedding,” she forgot. Mary and his brothers (the general theory is Joseph was dead before Jesus began His ministry at 30) come and try to pull Jesus back home.
I’m sure it was hard to be Jesus’ mother.
Think about it.
He had huge crowds following Him.
He also had people plotting to kill Him.
She had to be worried what was going to happen to him.
She didn’t know it was going to end like this.
I don’t think anything could prepare her for this.
As a small inadequate comparison.
My Dad was diagnosed with cirrhosis when I was in my early 20s. I knew it was a death sentence. I knew he was going to die soon.
I still was not prepared when I got the call while at a bridal shower, he had died.
I knew he was going to die, and yet it still crushed me.
Maybe she knew about the prophetic Psalm describing crucifixion, or the many passages in Isaiah talking about the suffering savior.
She still didn’t know.
Mary didn’t know.
How could she?
Curious about Some Christmas lessons on here?
- Christmas Minute to Win It game
- Christmas Story Bracelet
- From the Cradle to the Cross (actually an Easter craft, but I love this one)
- Best Christmas Pageant Ever (the book and the movie both have some great lessons in grace and a great conversation of the first Christmas in a way we don’t tend to think about)
- Wandering Wisemen
- Christmas Story Unit (this has all 4 weeks of the Christmas unit together)