Mary’s Greatest Blessing
Gabriel told Mary that she had “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Certainly bearing and raising the Christ Child was an incredible favor. But it was not the greatest favor God bestowed on Mary — not by a long shot. Though he gave Mary a completely unique calling, the most important way God favored her is the same way he favors you and me and all his children.
The biblical canon nowhere teaches that Mary was sinless. She was not immaculately conceived. Like us, she “was brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5). Unless God did something to remove her sin, his wrath would have remained on her like any other fallen human.
This means that God’s favor on Mary was unmerited. The grace he showed to her was of staggering proportions, and I’m not even referring to her calling as the mother of The Child. The greatest blessing Mary received was that her Child saved her from her damning sins (Matthew 1:21) so that he could bring her to God (1 Peter 3:18) — the same blessing that is given to everyone who believes in him (John 3:16).
That’s why Jesus directs our attention away from Mary, whom he loved, to his Word in Luke 11:28. He wants our attention on the gospel he came to proclaim: the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23) to all who believe in him (1 John 5:13). Mary’s vocational calling as the mother of Jesus was a great blessing, but it was nowhere near the blessing of having her sins paid for by the fruit of her womb.
God was “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) to Mary in a way no one else has experienced and in that way she was “blessed among women.” But the most important way God dwelled with Mary was the same as he dwells with all his children: through faith (Ephesians 3:17).
So as we ponder Mary’s experience this Christmas, let us join her relative, Elizabeth, and say of her: “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). Because God’s greatest blessing is given to those who believe him.