QUESTION: Why was Mary chosen? Surely there were other young women who were virtuous and virgins.
ANSWER: Surprisingly little is said in the Bible about the Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus. She is mentioned in the first chapters of Matthew. We learn she was betrothed to Joseph. She was a virgin. Luke in the first chapter of his Gospel tells us of the visit of Gabriel to “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’” (1:27-28). Gabriel explains to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (1:30-31). Upon visiting her relative, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, Mary is greeted with the words, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (1:42).
These verses partially answer the question. Mary fulfilled various aspects of prophecy that pointed to the coming of the Lord. She and Joseph were of the house of David (II Samuel 7: 13-15). She was a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (7:14): “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” They were from Bethlehem, the town prophesied to be the birthplace of Jesus (Micah 5:2). The phrases “O favored one” and “You have found favor with God” translate the Greek word for grace or favor.
Mary takes no credit for God’s blessing. She responded to Elizabeth with these words of the Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed: for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and his name is holy” (Luke 1: 46-49).
She tells us God chose her because of her humble estate and because God is great. She gave all glory to God. We might like more information. God limits us to His word. God did not choose her because she was virtuous. He chose her because He is good. He saw her humble estate. Because of God’s grace Mary is blessed by all generations. Because of God’s great love, we honor her as being the mother of our Savior.
Expanding this question, we find comfort. God chose us as His children also because of His grace. Nothing in us, not virtue or goodness caused God to choose us. God is gracious. He chose us in spite of ourselves and for the sake of the One born of Mary. Jesus earned this grace for us. God looked into our hearts and saw sin. Jesus took that sin and in its place imputed to us His holiness. Jesus paid the debt our sin deserved and gave us the glory He earned.
God sent the Holy Spirit by means of His Word to call us to faith so that we would receive the benefit of all Jesus did for us. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Mary didn’t boast in herself. She boasted in God and His goodness. We also give all glory to God. If we boast, we boast in God’s goodness as it comes to us in Jesus.
Rev. Charles Keeler
Resurrection Lutheran Church
Winter Haven, FL