God Chooses a Virgin Mother
December 20th, 1987 @ 8:15 AM
GOD CHOOSES A VIRGIN MOTHER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-20-87 8:15 a.m.
We welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and I am the pastor delivering the message entitled God Chooses a Virgin Mother. In the first chapter of Luke, in the twenty-sixth verse – remember this is a doctor writing. He is a physician and he writes with the intimacy of an attending doctor, an attending physician – "In the sixth month" – now that sixth month refers to the conception of the baby called John the Baptist in the womb of an aged woman named Elizabeth. So the doctor writes that in the sixth month of the conception of Elizabeth – "The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary" [Luke 1:26-27].
There is some of the most amazing things about this story that mind could imagine. When our Lord was raised from the dead, He appeared to the women, but He did not appear to Mary. He appeared to Mary of Magdala, Mary Magdalene [John 20:11-18], but He did not appear to His mother Mary. He appeared to Mary the mother of James [Matthew 28:1, 9-10], but He did not appear to His own mother. He appeared to Salome, the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John [Matthew 27:56], but He did not appear to His own mother; an amazing thing!
Yet she is worshiped by millions and millions and millions of people. Mariolatry was unknown in the first four centuries of the Christian faith. But there was a religious cult that worshiped the queen of heaven [Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25], and it amalgamated, from the East, with the Christian faith. And the result was Mariolatry, the worship of Mary.
As the days passed, in 1854, there was promulgated the doctrine of the immaculate conception – that she was without sin. Then, of course, preceding and following, she became a mediatrix, an adjuditrix, in our salvation, interceding for us, an intermediary between us and God; then the doctrine of her perpetual virginity, and finally in 1950 the doctrine of her bodily assumption to heaven.
One of the strange coincidences of life, I was in Rome when that doctrine was announced. I had been to Jerusalem and visited the supposed tomb of Mary, where she was supposed to have been buried for one thousand nine hundred fifty years. But in 1950 the doctrine was promulgated of her bodily assumption to heaven, like that of the Lord Jesus.
Now we do not need these added things to magnify the wonder of this glorious young woman, Mary. The Scriptures present her in a marvelous light, a wonderful light. And just to see her as she is, is glory from heaven itself. First, the annunciation, the angel Gabriel comes from heaven saying to her that she is to be the mother of this newborn King, the Savior, Iēsous, Savior, the Savior of the world [Luke 1:26-38].
Then she visits her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea [Luke 1:39-40]. And when Elizabeth sees her – remember this is a physician who is writing – when Elizabeth sees her, the babe leaps in her womb [Luke 1:41], six months pregnant. Then Elizabeth, in a paean of praise, magnifies the mother of Jesus [Luke 1:42-45], who is bearing in her womb – remember a physician is speaking – bearing in her womb, the Baby of the Holy Ghost [Luke 1:31-35]. And answering Elizabeth is Mary’s Magnificat, the last of the Old Testament psalms and the first of the New Testament hymns, psalms [Luke 1:46-55].
The Babe is born in Bethlehem [Luke 2:11-16], and there aged Simeon speaks of the sword that shall pierce her own soul [Luke 2:35]. And Anna the prophetess magnifies the Lord [Luke 2:36-38].
Then the Child at twelve years of age is seen in the presence of the doctors of divinity, of the doctors of the Mosaic law in the temple [Luke 2:41-50]. And the young Lad, twelve years of age, astonishes those learned rabbis by His knowledge of the Word of God [Luke 2:47]. In the return to Nazareth the Lad is lost to the family. What happened is very apparent. In the caravans of those days, the men and older boys journeyed together, and the women and the small children marched together, moved together. And each one thought the other had the Lad. They were so amazed, returning to Jerusalem, to see that Child as He taught in learnedness with those doctors of the law.
When He began His ministry, Mary was present and suggested what should be done in the first miracle of our Savior in Cana of Galilee [John 2:1-11]. Then one of the strangest things, in the third chapter of Mark, she, with the other children in the family, seek to take Jesus home because they think He is beside Himself [Mark 3:21, 31-32]. Never had there been in the history of the world a ministry like our Lord’s.
In the story of the cross, she is standing by the Lord Jesus as He is nailed to the tree. And from the uplifted cross, the Lord speaks to John to take her to his own home; and from that moment on, Mary lived with her nephew John [John 19:26-27]. Mary and Zebedee’s wife, Salome, were sisters. And Jesus and John were cousins. And John took Mary, his aunt, to his own home and took care of her the rest of her life.
Then the last we see of Mary is in the prayer meeting before Pentecost. She is present there in that intersession before God [Acts 1:14]. Then she disappears from history. She is never known or mentioned again.
God’s choice of Mary is very apparent when you read the sacred writing. The mother of our Savior, the Messiah, had to be a Jewess. She had to be of the line and lineage of David; and, of course, she had to be a gloriously, marvelously conversant girl with the things of God. And you see that in her Magnificat [Luke 2:46-55]; that glorious praise of the coming Lord our Savior is all Scripture. The whole thing is taken out of the Words of God in the Old Testament.
And in the prophecy of Simeon, when the Child was eight days old and was brought to the temple to be circumcised and that the rights might be done according to the law, you have there an instance of the poverty of Joseph [Luke 2:24]. In the Book of Leviticus, if one was poor, poor, he could offer two turtledoves in redemption [Leviticus 12:8]. The firstborn of every family belonged to God and had to be redeemed if you kept the child [Exodus 13:2]. So the redemptive price of two little pigeons was offered to God for the redemption of this firstborn Son named Jesus.
And while He was being offered to God in redemptive love, old Simeon prophesied of the glory of the Lad, that He should be there for the rising and falling of men in Israel and then said to her, "Yea, and a sword shall pierce thine own soul also" [Luke 2:35]. That came to pass, we easily understand, when Jesus was crucified and Mary saw her Son nailed to the cross [John 19:25]. That prophecy is easily understood in the light of the tragic, suffering death of our Lord.
But I do not know that I have ever heard in my life, not one time, in the long years of my life, I have never heard the other side of that – never heard it mentioned. When Simeon said to Mary, "A sword shall pierce thine own soul also," I think it also refers to the hurt, and embarrassment, and shame, and misunderstanding that attended her conception of that Child.
What makes you think that, pastor? As I carefully read the Holy Scriptures, again and again you will find that. For example, in the eighth chapter of the Book of John, in a confrontation, an altercation, with the Jewish leaders, they say to Him, "We were not born in fornication" [John 8:41]. And may I put an aside, "as You were." "We were not conceived in an adulterous union as You were."
And I see it plainly in the consternation and equivocation of Joseph. The civil war he fought in his own heart, what should he do? What would you do? What would you have done? In that day, a betrothal, an espousal was like a marriage. And here Joseph, before they come together, he finds that Mary is pregnant. And he turns over in his mind, what shall he do? Can you imagine, can’t you, how Mary felt? The burden of that moment, of that day.
So while Joseph is contemplating what to do and finally decides that he will divorce her privately, and not publically, making an example of her, he will put her away privately, can’t you see the unbelievable hurt that came to the heart of that girl? [Matthew 1:19]. And, of course, as you know, the Lord intervened and Joseph took her to himself [Matthew 1:20-24].
All right, again: how is it that being nine months pregnant, she gets on a donkey and rides all the way, seventy miles, from Nazareth down to Bethlehem? [Luke 2:1-6]. All needed was for Joseph to go to Bethlehem. That’s enough. He could register for the family. It was the census. And Joseph could write the name of the family in Bethlehem, being the city of David and each one required by Roman law to make the journey to the house of his fathers. Why did Mary go with Joseph down to Bethlehem?
Why, the answer is obvious. She was the object of every gossiper in the town. And when that day came for the Child to be born, she wanted to be close to Joseph. She didn’t want to be left alone there in Nazareth, the butt end of every salacious insinuation. So she made the journey with Joseph to be close to him.
I’m just repeating, when Simeon, the old prophet said, "And a sword shall pierce thine own soul also" [Luke 2:35]. It was not just her standing by the cross, seeing the Lord Jesus die, but it was also the shame that she had to bear and the gossip she had to endure because she was pregnant, unmarried.
Now something happened to me one time. An unbeliever came to me and said, "I want to ask you a question. Just ask you a question. You believe all this stuff about the Lord Jesus? Want to ask you a question. If an unmarried girl came up to you and said, ‘This child that I bear in my womb is conceived by the Holy Ghost, the father of my child is God Himself,’" he said to me, "would you believe it? Would you believe it?"
You know what I said? I said, "My friend, if that child – conceived in the womb of that virgin girl – if that child had been prophesied in his coming for thousands and thousands of years [Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 9:6-7]; and if when the child was born, a star guided wise men from the East to its birthplace [Matthew 2:1-2], and if when that child became of age, he wrought miracles as the world hath never seen [Matthew 9:33] – even those in Israel said, ‘It has never been so seen’ – if that child, in manhood, could raise the dead from the grave itself [John 11:43-44]; if that child spoke words of wisdom beyond anything the old Greek philosophers had ever conceived of, or the Roman practitioners and pragmatists had ever said [John 7:46]; and if that child, in manhood, slain [Matthew 27:50], was raised the third day from the dead [Matthew 28:5-7]; and if that child brought hope and salvation to the whole world [John 3:16]; and if that child was sung in beautiful song and hymn, five hundred thousand of those hymns written about him; and if the story of that child was brought to me when I was a boy, and I found a glorious friend and savior in him, when I was a child and I gave him my heart, and when I was seventeen years of age I began to preach the hope and the blessedness of his gospel in schoolhouses and under brush arbors and on the streets, and now to add, after sixty years, standing in the sacred place, naming His name; if that child were that, I would believe it when the maiden girl came to me and said, ‘This child is conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the love and grace of God.’" That’s why Christmas, that’s why the glory and the beatify of this season of the year.
And as I’ve said a thousand times in your presence, don’t you worry about the commercialization of Christmas. And don’t you worry about what the world does in this season. You can’t take Him out of the light that shines, or out of the name that He bears, or out of the glory of the hour. This is the birthday of our Lord. This is the coming into human life and experience of our marvelous Savior. This is the Jesus-time in the world. And what a joy and what an incomparable privilege to share in it in any way, giving gifts to one another in His name, lighting a candle, decorating the tree, coming to the services of the church, just rejoicing in the goodness of God our Savior.
We must close and we do so with a hymn. As we sing our song, giving your heart to the Lord, moved by the Holy Spirit of God, "Pastor, this is God’s day for me and I’m coming." Come and stand with us; go to heaven with us; love the Lord with us. Rejoice in Him with us. Accepting Him as your Savior, bringing your family into the fellowship of our dear church, as God shall press the appeal to your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
GOD CHOOSES A VIRGIN MOTHER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Story of the birth of our Lord written by a physician
B. The annunciation, conception and birth of our
Savior (Luke 1:26-27, 30-35)
worship of Mary
B. Doctrine of perpetual virginity
C. Her immaculate conception
D. Bodily assumption
A. The annunciation and the visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:46-55)
B. The birth in Bethlehem; temple visit (Exodus 12:12-13, Luke 2:21-38)
C. The sojourn in Egypt (Matthew
D. The Child at twelve years of age (Luke 2:41-51)
E. Cana of Galilee (John 2:1)
F. Thought Jesus was "beside Himself" (Mark 3:21)
G. Standing by the cross (John
H. Present at the prayer meeting before Pentecost (Acts 1:14)
B. The price she paid
1. A sword of hurt, sorrow should overwhelm her (Luke 2:35)
2. Being with child and unmarried (Luke 1:34, 38)
a. Having to tell Joseph (Mathew
1:18-19, John 8:41)
C. Would we believe her now?