Have you ever felt unimportant, put down, or unappreciated? Mary the mother of Jesus must have had some of those feelings. She was born into poverty. Her parents were of unimportant background as far as the world was concerned. She was considered to be a peasant, and in her day and in her culture, the poor people were looked down upon. In her day, poor people were considered to be poor because God had made them that way. They were considered to have no worth, and people treated them as unimportant.
Thankfully, those beliefs are not quite as large a part of our culture today as they were then. At that time, such beliefs were actually a part of their religion. I am so grateful that they are not a part of our religion today.
Undoubtedly, Mary grew up feeling, at times, very unimportant and very rejected by society—until one day when an angel appeared to her and told her that she was going to have a child! This message dumbfounded her because, as she told the angel, “I have never had any relations with a man. I am a pure and upright woman. How am I going to have a child?” And then the angel told her that she would bear the Son of God.
Ladies, how do you think it would feel, having never had relations with a man, to be carrying the One that you knew was the Messiah, the One that had been reincarnated from heaven?
Physically speaking, she felt no different than any other woman who was pregnant. But, knowing what she knew about this baby, how would you feel? What would it be like?
Look at what Mary said, after given this knowledge, in a song that she composed. Did you know that Mary wrote a song? She may have been unimportant in the world’s eyes, but she must have had some tremendous gifts. Her song is one of the most beautiful songs in the Bible—especially for those who feel unimportant, possibly rejected, looked down upon, or unappreciated.
“And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, For he has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1:46–48.
Oh, the men of earth looked down upon her. The ladies of the city looked down upon her. She did not have the fanciest clothes. She was not a part of their society, but, her song continues, “For He who is mighty has done great things by me, and holy [is] His name, And His mercy [is] on those who fear Him from generation to generation.” Verses 49, 50. “Not only me,” Mary declares, “but just as God has regarded me, so he regards all those, from generation to generation, who are lowly in heart.”
A Dwelling Place
Dear friend, the song that Mary composed is a song for all the humble of all the ages. It is a song for all those who are unappreciated or put down throughout all the ages. It is a song for those of all the ages who have found no recognition in society. Just as Jesus found an abode inside of Mary, He desires to find an abode inside of you.
Paul stated, in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit . . .?” Not just Mary’s body! But the Bible says that you, too, are to be the dwelling place of God. Your body is the dwelling place of God! “. . . [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Reason to Rejoice
God desires to dwell in you, and when God dwells in you, you can rejoice as Mary rejoiced. It makes you important! Whatever the world may think, it makes you important. Mary could rejoice because He who is mighty had done great things by her. Whatever the world had done or thought, in whatever esteem she was held by those of her community or those of her peers, God had chosen her, and that made her important. She praised God for His belief and confidence in her. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has done great things by me.”
Song for the Proud
Her song continues in Luke 1:51–53. It says: “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered [the] proud in the imagination of their hearts.” Verse 51.
While God found a dwelling place within the humble heart of Mary and within her body, He did not find a dwelling place within the rich in Jerusalem, within all the wives of the priests, or within the hearts of those who were mighty and proud.
The song of Mary is a song for all the humble of all ages, and it is a song for all the proud of all ages. Mary said, “He has put down the mighty from [their] thrones . . . .” Verse 52, first part.
In Mary’s day, there was politics in the church. People held offices because of who they knew—“You pat me on the back, and I will pat you on the back. You get me into a place, and I will get you into a place.” That is how things worked in Mary’s day.
In Mary’s day, you needed to have either money or position to be important. When Mary came into Bethlehem, there was not room for her in the inn. It was already filled with those who were important, but Mary’s baby was the only baby of that time who survived.
I wonder if, today, we have filled our churches with so many programs that when God’s program comes along, there is no room for it. I wonder if we have filled our minds with so much information that when God’s truth comes to us, there is no room for it.
But, remember that it is only God’s program and God’s truth that are going to survive. All the others will be put down, or pulled down, and destroyed.
Mary said, “He has put down the mighty from [their] thrones, And exalted [the] lowly. He has filled [the] hungry with good things, And [the] rich He has sent away empty.” Verses 52, 53.
Rich or Poor
The Bible tells us, speaking of the last church and the last people who claim to be God’s people, that they think they are rich, increased with goods, and have need of nothing. Jesus said, “I will spue them out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:17, 16.)
Mary said, “The rich He has sent away empty.”
Are you rich, today, dear friend, or are you poor?
“Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said. Matthew 5:3.
Are you self-satisfied? Or are you hungry for what God has to give you today? Are you in need of a blessing today? Are you poor and dejected and rejected? Are you hungry; are you searching? Do you need a filling today?
Only those who are hungry become filled: “He has filled [the] hungry with good things, And [the] rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of [His] mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.” Luke 1:53–55.
Do not envy the proud; pity them, for though they think they are filled, the Bible says that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. God can never find an abiding place with the proud of spirit, with the self-satisfied, or the self-conceited.
Today, God wants to find an abiding place in your heart. Are you humble enough to receive Him? Are you humble enough to sing Mary’s song?
We Are What We Eat
In John 6:51, Jesus tells us how it is that we can have Him abiding within our hearts today—how it is that we can sing this song that Mary sang; how it is that we, too, can rejoice and glorify God and magnify Him in our spirits and in our souls. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.’” Verses 53–56.
In whom is it that Jesus abides today? He abides in the hearts of those that eat His flesh and drink His blood.
We are what we eat, you know. What we eat becomes what we are.
You can eat peanut butter, and, if your fat is tested, your fat will be found to resemble the fat from peanut oil. If you eat a large amount of chicken, and that becomes the major part of your diet, biopsies of the fat of some of your fat cells will more resemble chicken fat. We are what we eat!
We are spiritually what we eat, just as we are carnally what we eat. If the food for our minds from day to day is rock music, if the mental food is country western music with all of the relationship stories that go on in these songs, or if the mental food is soap operas, that is what we will become.
If our mental food comes from reading the Bible, memorizing the Scripture to put it into our minds, and meditating upon it during the day, then that is what we become. And Jesus says, “If that is what you are feeding upon, I will abide in your heart, and you, too, can sing the song of Mary.”
Eating the body of Jesus and drinking His blood is symbolized by the communion service. Before Jesus left His disciples He, on His last day with them, established what we today call the communion service.
When Jesus instituted the communion service and gave to His disciples the bread and the unfermented wine—the grape juice—He said that the bread represents His body which was broken for you, and the grape juice represents His blood which was shed for you. (1 Corinthians 11:24; Luke 22:20.) So as we partake of the bread and of the grape juice during a communion service, we are symbolically eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ.
But, remember that God only finds an abode within the humble, not within the proud. Before that last supper on that last night with His disciples, Jesus realized that while He could give them the elements, He could not really make them meaningful to several of the disciples, because they were proud. He had to do something to help them come to such a state of mind that not only could they eat of this food symbolically, but in reality He could come in and dwell with them.
Service of Humility
On that night, He instituted a service to help them become more humble. There was one thing in Jesus’ day that only servants did, and that was to wash other people’s feet. You see, they did not have automobiles, and they did not have paved roads. All they had were dusty paths, and their shoes were sandals. To travel to their desired destinations, the people walked, and their feet would get dusty and dirty. As they entered into a home, it was the custom, if a person was rich enough to have servants, for a servant to wash the feet of the travelers. Only servants performed this act.
On the night of the last supper, there was no servant. None of the disciples were willing to perform this service; they were too proud. Jesus knew that if they were too proud to perform this act, they were too proud to have Him abiding in their hearts. So Jesus became the servant.
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe [them] with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And [Peter] said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’ Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ ” John 13:3–8.
This was an important service that Jesus was performing. Unless this service of humbleness worked within the heart of Peter, there was no part that Peter could have in Jesus’ kingdom.
“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also [my] hands and [my] head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed’ (that is, baptized) ‘needs only to wash [his] feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ ” Verses 9, 10.
You see, the foot washing is symbolic. It is important, but unless it works a change in the heart, it does not do any good. It did not work a change in Judas’ heart. While the other disciples became clean, Judas did not.
Jesus went on to say, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you say well, for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Verses 12–17.
If Jesus did not consider Himself too good, if He was not too important to wash the disciples’ feet, how can we be too good and too important to not wash one another’s feet? Can we for a moment suppose that we are more important than Jesus was?
Come With Contrition
“We need closely to investigate our life and character, and have true contrition of soul, having fellowship with Christ and fellowship with our brethren. Then we shall show that we can appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. The barriers of pride, of self-sufficiency, are first to be broken down; then the love of Jesus will abound in our hearts. Then we can partake of the communion with a consciousness of sins forgiven; for whosoever sits down at the communion service should sit down humble and clean in heart, and purified from all defilement. Then the sunshine of Christ’s righteousness will fill the chambers of our minds and the soul temple.” Review and Herald, July 5, 1898.
Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.