1 November 2008

My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord

(Gospel e-Letter November 2008)

God has shown great favour to the virgin of Nazareth. Through her the eternal Son of God became human and came to the world for our salvation. The church rightly calls her the “Mother of God according to the manhood”. It is no wonder that wherever the gospel is proclaimed, God’s people call her blessed.

To keep her from vainglory and pride, the Lord adorned Mary with a wise and humble character. To the greetings of Elizabeth, Mary answered, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” As for herself, she was amazed that God would look favourably upon “his handmaid’s lowliness”. Her only desire was to glorify and praise the Lord God Almighty, and certainly not herself.

Sadly, throughout church history specious titles were attributed to Mary, totally ignoring her own desire. Some call her ‘the gate of heaven’ and even ‘our life’ and ‘our hope’. But the Bible calls Jesus alone our door, our life and our hope.

In 1854 and 1950 the Roman Catholic Church proclaimed the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption even though the Bible is silent about these doctrines. The Bible explicitly teaches that Jesus was conceived without sin (Hebrews 7:26); and being perfectly holy, just and undefiled, he was qualified to die for us, the unjust, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

Moreover, after the shame of the cross, God the Father raised up Jesus and received him into the glory of heaven. God demands that every knee should bend at the name of Jesus. At this very moment, along with all the saints and angels, Mary is praising and worshipping the Lord Jesus. We too ought to join with the mother of our Lord and the heavenly hosts to give Christ the Lord our undivided devotion, for he is worthy to receive thanks, honour and praise forevermore.

His Mercy is from Age to Age

In my childhood days, my religion teachers presented a distorted image of God. They told us that the Lord is a stern Judge and we should not dare approach him directly. We were advised to pray to Mary, the kind-hearted mother, so that she will intercede for us before her Son. Surely Jesus would not refuse anything his mother asks him, we were told.

Mary refutes such foolish arguments. Mary gloried in the goodness of the Lord, insisting that “his mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” After all who made mothers sweet and kind? Should we then doubt the kindness of the Creator, the font of all blessings?

Mary experienced the kindness of the Lord. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, even a short time before his death, he was concerned about her well-being after his departure. He commanded his close friend and disciple John to take care of her. “Woman, behold, your son,” he told her, and to John he said, “Behold, your mother,” implying that it was his responsibility to care for her as a son cares for an aging widow. We are told that from that hour the disciple took her into his home (John 19:26, 27).

Mary wants us to appeal to him in our needs. At the wedding in Cana, when Mary noticed the problem, she prayed to Jesus for help, and she told the servants to do whatever he tells them. We ought to do the same. We ought to pray to the Lord for our needs and intercede for others too. After the Lord returned to heaven, Mary prayed with the disciples to the Lord. Nowhere in Scripture do we find an example, permission or commandment to pray to Mary or the departed saints after their death. If you truly respect Mary, follow her example and always seek the Lord in your prayers.

The Lord Jesus himself invites us to go directly to him. He promised, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus never turned back anyone who came to him. His disciples tried to keep away the kids, but he said, “Let the little children come to me.” The people tried to silence the blind man, but Jesus heard his cry and restored his eyesight. Jesus reached out to the lepers, the outcasts of society, touched and healed them. With stones in their hands, the mob was about to stone the adulterer, but Jesus -- the only one who could have condemned her -- forgave her. Even at his very last hour, he promised a place in heaven to the repentant thief.

Friend, do you suppose that the Lord will not keep his promise, or that his heart has become hard? Do you think he will not receive you if you sincerely turn to him? Come then, come to Jesus today.

Come to Jesus for he alone is the bridge that spans the infinite gap between the holy God and sinful man. “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6). Mary gained heaven by his power and merit, and so will you if you believe Mary's testimony about the mercy of God, and by faith rely on him for forgiveness.