Mary Should Be Honored, But Not Worshiped

The young woman chosen by the Lord to give birth to the Savior was no doubt a faith-filled, humble servant of God. But the Bible is quite clear even by her own testimony that she is not to be worshiped. Only God is to be worshiped. We worship the triune God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a look at Luke chapter 1 to see some amazing things. As you read the chapter, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is the hero of this chapter of the Bible?
  • What is one verse in this chapter that sums up the entire chapter?
  • What can we learn from the people in this chapter?

Read Luke 1:1-80 (HCSB)
1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.

8When his division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 it happened that he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear.

13 But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

18 “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept making signs to them and remained speechless. 23 When the days of his ministry were completed, he went back home.

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived and kept herself in seclusion for five months. She said, 25 “The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people.”

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And ⌊the angel⌋ came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.

30 Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

39 In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah 40 where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: “You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed! 43 How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me! 45 She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”

46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, 48 because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy. 50 His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. 51 He has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; 52 He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. 53 He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy, 55 just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

56 And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.

57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. 58 Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her His great mercy, and they rejoiced with her. 59 When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day, they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But his mother responded, “No! He will be called John.” 61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62 So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: HIS NAME IS JOHN. And they were all amazed.

64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue ⌊set free⌋, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea.
66 All who heard about ⌊him⌋ took ⌊it⌋ to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.

67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, 70 just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times; 71 salvation from our enemies and from the clutches of those who hate us. 72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant— 73 the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege, 74 since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days. 76 And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us 79 to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

80 The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD

Let’s revisit the questions we asked earlier:

  • Who is the hero of this chapter of the Bible? Even a casual reading of the chapter will illuminate the fact that Mary is not the hero of this story – God is! She is an important person of course, but God is the one who blesses Zechariah and Elizabeth with a baby, as well as chooses Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Many people focus the attention in this chapter on the events surrounding Mary and her words. But even her words clearly indicate the God is her Savior. She is not a perfect person; she is a faithful, humble, obedient servant of the Lord. But she was in need of salvation just like every other person except Jesus, the one who was born to be the Savior of the world, of all those who would trust in Him.
  • What is one verse in this chapter that sums up the entire chapter? The sentence that sums up the entire chapter of the book of Luke says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” That is what Christmas is all about. It is celebrating the birth of the Savior, the one who came to reconcile people to God. Even if a person is far, far away from God, guess what? Nothing is impossible with God. He can forgive all sin. He wants to be your Savior. That’s why He sent His Son, born of a woman, born to save us from our sins. Re-read Luke 1:37.
  • What can we learn from the people in this chapter? I want to leave this one for you for your personal study. Take a look at three people in this story – Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary. What do we learn from each of them about faith and obedience to God? You may need to re-read the chapter.

PUT IT INTO PRACTICE: What one thing (or more) will you do to apply the truths of this Bible study to your life?

A SIMPLE PRAYER: “Lord, help me to realize that nothing is impossible with You. Because of this reality, you can do anything through me that you choose to do. Help me to believe that, and help me to follow you in faith and obedience. AMEN.”

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