Behold! The Maidservant

Behold! The Maidservant

Behold! The Maidservant.

There are some individual words and short phrases in Scripture that need to be highlighted as they are read, words or phrases that are significant or point to something meaningful. Some phrases might be: Fear not. Here I am. Woe to you. One another.   And maybe some words are: AmenHallelujahBlessedAbba. Come.  The word Behold! is one of those significant words, an exclamation that is intended to get our attention. Listen, people, this is something you need to hear! Behold says to the audience, Look at this and take note! You would be wise to remember these words and think about them! Careful now, don’t be deaf to what I am about to say! Stop what you’re doing and listen up! As the Eastern Orthodox Christians say before they read the Gospel in the Liturgy… Attend! The following verse begins with Behold! So the words that follow must be important.

“Then Mary said, ‘Behold! I am the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word. May everything you have told me come to pass.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38).

Mary has held a place of high honor down through the centuries of Christianity. She has captured the imaginations of painters, sculptors, writers, musicians, and anyone who is spiritually inclined. No wonder. She is literally the world’s first true Christian. She did instinctively what every Christian believer is called to do… She willingly received the Godhead into her life. She became a receiving vessel for Christ. The Holy Spirit literally went into Mary. Christ was literally within her. She was the prototype of all Christians, submitting to God in humility and faith. When we become Christians, we do what Mary did… Trust God, receive Jesus into our lives, live in faith that Christ is within us. Mary contained Christ, and we do the same. Christians contain Christ, just like Mary.

For such a young woman to display virtues like humility, courage and faith, she had to have an exceptional upbringing. She certainly had a mature faith for someone her age. So she must have been prepared to some extent for her momentous decision. She had free will, she could have said No to the angel Gabriel. But she didn’t. She freely submitted to Gabriel’s other-worldly announcement. It is vital that her upbringing somehow trained her to be a student of Scripture. In her literary gem of a prayer, the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, she alluded to or quoted the Hebrew Bible over twenty times. She blended passages from the Word, from Genesis to several Psalms, from 1 Samuel to Habakkuk, from Job to Zephaniah. Mary was intimate with Scripture as evidenced in her magnificent prayer of praise. No wonder most paintings of Mary have her pictured with a finger in her Bible as she receives this announcement from Gabriel. Sure enough, her faithful prayer has been put to music an astounding number of times down through the centuries. Mary was truly inspired as she opened up her spirit and let the Magnificat pour out. Her Orthodox upbringing contributed to her preparation, along with her knowledge of Scripture. And Mary continued strongly in the Faith into her adulthood. As soon as Mary and Jospeh were married, they followed all the laws of Moses and all the customs of the Faith, all that was expected of believing Jews (Luke 2:39). Mary clearly had been raised to be an earnest woman of deep faith. Her spirit was willing, and her flesh was strong.

Mary retained her humility and faith even after having the privilege of bearing and raising the Messiah in her home. Once Christ was of age, perhaps our last memory of Mary before the Cross, is the scene at the wedding in Cana. She faithfully told the servants “Whatever Jesus tells you, make sure you do it!” (John 2:5). Those are the words of a disciple as well as a mother. Not only did Mary bear Jesus, she continued to humbly bear witness to Him as she pointed directly to Christ and not to herself.