My cover of “Mary Did You Know?”
I said yesterday that I was interested in the furor and the controversy around the song “Mary Did You Know” but the reason may surprise you. Mary knew Jesus was the Son of God, like the grumpy cat says, because the Angel told her. We know she knew because of her song, “The Magnificat” in which she recites the hope and belief in the Messiah the would usher in the Kingdom of God and be the deliverer from sin and death and hell. She had what all Christians need; the Word of God, in this case the Old Testament scriptures which she obviously knew very well; she had a preacher that she listened to, in this case an angel; and she had the Holy Spirit. She got other preachers as well. Elizabeth preached to her and said she was blessed because she believed what the Lord told her. She knew Jesus was the Messiah. Whether she knew the other stuff about the blind getting their sight, the lame walking and Jesus strolling along on the water depends as some one said on whether or not you want to answer a rhetorical question. “If you’re going to literally answer an obviously rhetorical question, you expose yourself as a poor reader. But if you insist on being a poor reader, then at least be consistent and admit that some of these things Mary didn’t know. Mary didn’t know Jesus would walk on water. She didn’t know Jesus would calm a storm. She may not have known that Jesus would give sight to a blind man, but that depends on her Old Testament literacy, the nature of the inaugurated kingdom of God, and the specific
degree to which Jesus would fulfill these promises during his earthly ministry. If you insist on giving a literal answer to the song’s rhetorical question, these are the fruitless places that you go.” *
Mary knew Jesus was the Messiah because of the witnesses listed above. So did John the Baptist. He had the witness of the Spirit, he had a preacher, his Mother and Mary. His Father should have been a preacher to him as well but he forfeited that privilege when he did not believe the Angel message and was forced to be silent for the duration. When the child John was to be circumcised his Father still could not speak and had to write his name on a tablet. When he did that he could speak and he became a preacher.
The issue is that these two doubted. John doubted and sent emissaries to Jesus to make sure that he was the Messiah. Mary is constantly astonished at the things Jesus says and does and she at one point thought he was insane. So what do we do with these things?
You have messengers who witness to Jesus as Messiah in the objective Word in the scriptures that are outside of you. And as someone said, when God gets serious about saving He sends a preacher. You have preachers just as Mary and John and the rest of the disciples had. We all doubt at times and usually it is for selfish and self justifying reasons but the means that God uses to work faith are still there. The Spirit himself witnesses for us and keeps drawing us back to faith and mercy and life. Mary and John knew and at the ends of their lives they “rejoiced in God their Savior”.
*Timothy Koch is the pastor at Emanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Milbank, South Dakota. He is also a fellow for the newly launched Sword & Swan Media House (www.swordandswan.com), and a frequent reviewer of books at www.thebeggarsblog.com.