Be It Unto Me According To Thy Word
When we think of a man after God’s own heart, David comes to mind, a man whom God says “shall fulfil all my will” (Act 13:22). How about a woman after God’s own heart? I think Mary, our Lord’s mother, would be well deserving of the honour. After all, didn’t the angel Gabriel say that she is “highly favoured” by God (Luk 1:28)? Like David who fulfilled all of God’s will, Mary submitted herself fully to God’s will as well in proclaiming “be it unto me according to thy word” (Luk 1:38). King Lemuel was taught by his mother that the virtuous woman is blessed by her children and praised by her husband and Mary even more so by her complete obedience to the will of God (Pro 31:28). Elizabeth declared her to be “blessed art thou among women” (Luk 1:42) and Mary acknowledged that “all generations shall call me blessed” (Luk 1:48). In this article, we shall examine how Mary fully submitted herself to the Word of God.
Even if it is troubling
Mary submitted herself to the Word of God even if it troubled her (Luk 1:29). After all, this was a rare sighting of an angel after 400 years of silence from God (Amo 8:11-12), and he brought forth high praise for Mary. And when we receive such praise from people, isn’t it often the case that it is accompanied by a difficult ask? Even though Mary might not comprehend the full magnitude of the heavy responsibility upon her, she still accepted it and kept all the sayings in her heart (Luk 2:19,51). On the other hand, there are others who challenge the Word of God instead when it troubled them. What is our response when the Word of God troubles us? Do we question God like Gideon (Jdg 6:13)? Do we run away from God like Jonah (Jon 1:3)? Or do we submit like those added to the Lord’s church on the day of Pentecost (Act 2:37)?
Even if it seems unbelievable
Mary submitted herself to the Word of God even if it seemed unbelievable to her (Luk 1:34). Her question did not stem from unbelief, but from wanting to find out the means of conception (Luk 1:35), and she believed the things which were told her from the Lord (Luk 1:45).
On the other hand, there are others who challenge the Word of God instead when it seemed unbelievable to them. What is our response when the Word of God seems unbelievable to us? Do we mock God like Jehoram’s officer (2Ki 7:2)? Do we doubt God like Zacharias (Luk 1:20)? Or do we have faith like Peter even though our experience tells us otherwise (Luk 5:5)?
Even if it causes embarrassment
Mary submitted herself to the Word of God even if it caused embarrassment to her (Luk 2:5). Can you imagine this heavily pregnant young lady travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered for a census? She would probably run into many familiar faces along the way and there might be some gossiping on how she became pregnant even before her marriage with Joseph. She would also have to deal with real fears of losing her husband (Mat 1:19), or even losing her life (Deu 22:24)! On the other hand, there are others who challenge the Word of God instead when it caused embarrassment to them. What is our response when the Word of God causes embarrassment to us? Do we persecute those who correct us like Herod (Mar 6:17)? Do we deny our Lord like the rulers (Joh 12:42)? Or do we repent of sins like David (2Sa 12:13)?
Even if it leads to suffering
Mary submitted herself to the Word of God even if it led to her suffering (Luk 2:35). The last we read of Joseph was when Jesus was 12 years old and it is likely that Joseph had passed away before Jesus’ ministry as our Lord had entrusted the care of His mother to John (Joh 19:26-27). If this is the case, Mary must have had a difficult life raising up at least 7 children by herself (Mar 6:3). On top of that, she would lose her oldest child at the prime of His life and witness His cruel death by crucifixion (Joh 19:25). The Chinese have a saying to describe one of the greatest griefs of life, 白发人送黑发人, meaning “to see one's child die before oneself”, an agony which Mary would have to suffer. Simeon’s prophecy that “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul” described what Mary must have felt when the stakes were driven through Jesus’ hands as He was crucified to the cross. On the other hand, there are others who challenge the Word of God when it led to their suffering. What is our response when the Word of God leads to our suffering? Do we complain against God like the Israelites (Exo 14:11)? Do we speak against God (Job 2:9)? Or do we rejoice at the privilege of suffering for Christ (Act 5:41)?
Mary “found favour with God” in being chosen as our Lord’s mother (Luk 1:30), because she submitted herself to the Word of God in asking “be it unto me according to thy word” (Luk 1:38), even if it is troubling, even if it seems unbelievable, even if it causes embarrassment, and even if it leads to suffering. The reason why Mary submitted to the Word of God so willingly and readily is because she saw herself as the “handmaid of the Lord” (Luk 1:38). In so doing, she was “exalted” (Luk 1:52) and “filled… with good things” (Luk 1:53). Let us demonstrate the same humility in telling God “be it unto me according to thy word”, and asking God for “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luk 22:42).