Formations 12.25.2022: Of Course, She Knew

Luke 1:26-31, 34-35, 38; Matthew 1:18-25

Last year my family went to a Mark Lowry concert as a Christmas present for my dad. If you grew up in a particular kind of Christian subculture, you can’t beat Mark Lowry for quirky humor and good old-fashioned Southern Gospel music. As they say, a good time was had by all.

And of course, since this was in December, Lowry sang his signature song, “Mary, Did You Know?” That song has been around for a while now. It has generated quite a few… let’s say, “opinions.” For everyone who adores the song’s reflection on the life and ministry of Jesus, there is someone else who is quick to point out that yes, of course Mary knew all this. Gabriel explained it to her.

I’ve already waded into that debate as much as I care to. I will, however, suggest that “Mary, Did You Know?” strikes me as a rare Protestant example of devotion to Mary. It is a way—and we can say what we want about whether it’s a good way—to contemplate the meaning of Jesus through the eyes of his mother. Maybe the point of the song is not intellectual curiosity about what Mary knew and when she knew it. Maybe the questions are rhetorical, and the point is to ponder the unfolding drama of God-with-us—and the role this Galilean peasant girl played in it.

Though as a Protestant I have many reservations, it’s still true, I think, that the best Catholic Marian devotion always points to Jesus. “Blessed are you among women,” Elizabeth exults in Luke 1:42, “and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Mary is to be blessed because of and relative to the coming of her son. But she is to be blessed. She’s not to be ignored or dismissed.

Mary’s role in the drama of salvation is centered in her obedience and faith. When she tells the angel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 2:38), she gives us all a model of discipleship. Our age or gender or station in life doesn’t matter. Whoever we are, she’s like us, and we should strive to be like her.

Mary is also in some ways like the other women we have learned about in this unit. Her yes to God puts her in a precarious and even scandalous situation. Even so, she embraces that audacious risk because she’s confident that God is with her.

And she reminds us that audacious risk is what obedience and faith are all about.


• How often do you think about Mary outside of Christmastime?
• What qualities of Mary would you like to see more of in your own relationship with God?
• What risks have you been called to take in obedience to God’s word? What happened?
• What can Mary teach us about following Jesus?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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