More Blessed than Mary?

Luke 11:28   (NLT)   28 Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

Luke 11.28 - More Blessed than Mary.jpgWe cannot overestimate the value of God’s Word—of listening to and obeying it. It brings an exceedingly great blessedness—greater blessedness than being a channel of our precious Lord’s incarnation.

Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus in His humanity without a doubt is extremely blessed. This is a truth recognized the world over. Others emphasize the wonders and value of this experience while at the same time neglecting the glories and importance of God’s word.

A lot of people have a tendency to do this or something similar to this. We have a tendency to elevate things and people above God and His Word. Our affection, our attention, our energy, our time, and our efforts are spent towards them; our focus on God, His Kingdom, our ministry, our callings, things eternal, things spiritual, our mission—all these infinitely more important things are lessened or diminished in our estimation. We get busy doing a lot of things we find very important and big; God’s word becomes a distraction.

So much is written about the wonders and the glories of the Word of God—so many admonitions for us to listen to it, read it, study, meditate on it, commit it to our minds and hearts, and live it out. That’s one of the obvious proofs that God really wants as blessed.

We thank You Lord for Your desire to bless us, and how You have made that possible, not just for a few but for all who would act and respond to Your clear directions appropriately and in humble, grateful, loving obedience. It’s so amazing living blessed. All this is from You, and we’re enjoying it immensely.

Second-Mile Obedience

Matthew 1:24   (KJV)   24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife

Joseph obeyed the angel’s command although it wasn’t a simple one.  He had to be very sensitive to spiritual matters; he had to be discerning enough to recognize that his dream was something beyond the ordinary. His decision wasn’t something small; it was life Matthew 1.24 - Second-Mile Obediencealtering, in fact, it was big-time history changing. He may not have known the importance or the extents of the consequences of His obedience, but that’s a nature of obedience: we can’t predict it’s real value.

God values our obedience more than we know it. He values it more than sacrifice. By the way, grace doesn’t discard, undermine, diminish, dismiss, or nullify the need for obedience. They’re not opposed to each other. In fact, one of grace’s most important function is empowering us to obey God in saying “no” to undgodliness. Obedience demonstrates who we are as believers; obedience is living wisely as His child.

Obedience still brings rewards and disobedience brings discipline or punishment. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to argue against those who teach that God no longer punishes us when we disobey; I’m just sharing what I believe. Every blessing we have is grace from God, but God’s Word teaches that not everyone receives God’s grace.  Only those who appropriate grace by faith benefit from it. Faith isn’t just mental; living faith is belief-obedience. Remember, during the “awarding ceremony” of believers, there will be gradations of rewards.

My encouragement is not only to obey, but to go a second mile. Joseph did. He wasn’t commanded to have sexual relations with Mary, but He didn’t until after Jesus was born. He decided on that and did that on his own.

Conscientious Choices

Matthew 1:25   25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Joseph wasn’t instructed not to have any sexual relations with Mary after he took her as his wife. He had all the spiritual and legal freedom to “touch” her without violating anything. By his own volition, he did not. His act factored in affirming a major prophecy mark-6-3-conscientious-choicesabout a virgin being with child, a prophecy which could be interpreted in many different ways. And it was not an act that he needed to “sacrifice” for a day; he patiently held off for nine months or so.

There’s no indication of any doubt or mistrust left in Joseph. After an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and shared to him very pertinent information regarding the pregnancy and the Child, his conviction was solid. He trusted her, so the reason for him holding off was not in any way negative at all. The Word is silent about it; all we could do is surmise, but whatever his reasons were, it definitely looked more positively and suitably in relation to the prophecy.

True, he didn’t hold off from any sexual relationship with Mary forever. Nine months is a long time, but we know it wasn’t forever. True, Mary had other children; Jesus had brothers and sisters: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him” (Mark 6:3). Clearly, Joseph and Mary engaged in procreative activities after the birth of their first born.  Our precious Lord Jesus’ birth alone was of a miraculous kind; the rest of them were natural, biological birth, but God’s Word remained true in all of Joseph’s actions and turn of events.

Our sensitivity to situation and our conscientiousness has a big role in living wisely and more efficiently for God and in His Kingdom. There are good choices and bad choices; we choose the good. There are good choices, better choices, and best choices; we choose the best. We care for the welfare of our King and His Kingdom. Praise God for His Word and Holy Spirit Who guides us in navigating through the often complex twists and turns in our world.

Hear and Heed

Luke 11:27-28  (KJV)   27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

A woman exclaimed about the blessedness of her who was favored to be the bearer of Jesus when He entered humanness and humanity. Mary was the recipient of this certain high favor of God. She was indeed extremely blessed, so blessed that it has become inextricably joined with her identity: she will be called blessed. But with all the indescribable honor that comes with that special experience and role, Jesus diverted their attention to another area of blessedness – it’s the blessedness of hearing and heeding the Word of God. Instead on focusing on the mother; He wanted them to focus on His Word. There is a noticeable implication of the more advantageous nature of this kind of blessing. For one, the motherhood to the humanity of the Lord Jesus was an experience only enjoyed by one; learning and obeying God’s Word can be enjoyed by everyone. 

There are blessings God allows everyone to enjoy – believers or not. Then there are blessings that are available only to all believers. God’s blessings are inexhaustible. Whereas there were special blessings in the Old Covenant reserved only for the first born, In Christ, His blessings are now made available to the firstborn or the ninth-born – the ones in between and the ones after. But in addition to being a believer, there is clearly a special kind of blessedness enjoyed by an obedient believer. The blessedness brought about by our relationship with Jesus and the blessedness brought about by obedience to Jesus neither contradict nor cancel out each other. It’s just a piling up of one blessing after another. But with the emphasis Jesus placed in the importance of hearing and doing God’s Word; it will be wise for us to hear and obey God’s Word – no matter how much blessings we’ve already enjoyed in having a saving relationship with Him. To believe that there’s blessedness in obedience doesn’t nullify the graciousness of God. Whatever blessedness we receive, it’s always way much greater than what our obedience really deserves. Grace doesn’t undermine obedience; it promotes it; it enables it. Obedience doesn’t undo grace; it honors it; it values it. By the way, as an important note: Jesus places  more value on obedience to His Word rather having the very favored role of being His mother. We will do well in being devoted to the Word rather than being devoted to any other blessed entity we find in the Word.   

Blessed Lord, thank you for being our Savior. Now, we’re enjoying the awesome joy and peace brought about by our experience of Your salvation. Thank You for being our Lord. May we now enjoy the additional awesome blessedness brought about by obedience to Your Word.