Mary, Did You Know?

Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God (Luke 1:34-35, ESV).

Recently, I listened to a sermon by Pastor Jeremy Hudson at Fellowship in Springfield, Ohio.

In the sermon, he mentioned that he disliked the song Mary, Did You Know? When I was preaching at Fellowship, I followed a strict, non-controversial policy and only attacked cats and Michigan.

Now, Pastor Jeremy, my predecessor, was criticizing one of the most popular Christmas songs ever written. His point — “Of course, Mary knew. The angel Gabriel and Old Testament prophecy (which she knew) had told her.”

I haven’t talked to Jeremy this week as to the reaction to his sermon, but there’s a rumor that he took a quick sabbatical to Michigan — where no decent Ohioan would follow him.

Controversy has followed the song, mainly focusing on the question about Mary knowing. One writer said that the song should not be called a Christmas song because it’s biblically illiterate.

Ouch! I think this writer has a house in Michigan where Pastor Jeremy is visiting.

Let’s pause and consider the song.

It was written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene in 1991 when they were on tour with Bill and Gloria Gaither. To this day, even in the summer, when Mark gives a concert, he closes with the song. But others like Michael English, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd, Mary J. Blige, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, and Pentatonix have covered the song.

If we examine the lyrics, the song has many other questions besides, “Mary, did you know?” 

They include questions about walking on water, saving us, making us new, deliverance, sight to a blind man, calming storms, walking where angels walk, kissing the face of God, Lord of creation, ruling the nations, the perfect Lamb, and the great I AM.

To most of these questions, Mary would easily say “yes,” and to the others (since she experienced the virgin birth), she wouldn’t be surprised.  

Now, with the “yes” to Mary’s question mostly settled (!!??) Let’s consider a couple of other Bible verses. 

In Luke 2:19 and 51, we find that Mary “pondered” and “treasured” and was “amazed” at events surrounding the birth of Jesus. God’s revelation to Mary about Jesus wasn’t fully revealed to her before His birth.

So, she, along with us today — ponder, treasure, and are amazed at Jesus!

One writer says about Mark Lowry’s song . . .  

The question “Mary, did you know?” is not a factual one but a rhetorical one. It opens space for contemplation, curiosity, and wonder. The song invites us to peer over Mary’s shoulder as she rocks the Christ child to sleep, to witness the vulnerability of God, to meditate on the vastness of heaven contained in tiny fingers grasping for the comfort of his mother’s hand.

Yes, Mary knew, but there was plenty for her to still learn as she raised Him and watched His earthly ministry.

And as we read the Gospel accounts of Mary and Jesus — we say a resounding “Yes!” to our salvation, healing, new birth, and future in heaven. But we still have many questions and perhaps even a doubt or two.

Let’s not move to Michigan, and Pastor Jeremy, if you are there, please come back. One day, we will know fully as we have been fully known. 

In the meantime, let’s rejoice that our Savior has been born.

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