Courage is the ability to do what is right in the face of fear. A courageous person is willing to do what is unpleasant, to take the heat when no one else will, and to stand for truth whatever the cost. There are many courageous people in the Bible, but Mary is foremost among them. In Luke 1, an angel visits Mary and shares how the impossible will happen through her. Mary is told how she will conceive the Savior of the world by the Holy Spirit. People will ridicule her and hate her for giving birth to Jesus. She will experience an incredible amount of emotional pain.
How does she respond to Gabriel? Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Courage comes from confidence in God’s sovereignty. We can do what is right because He is right. We can face fear because He defeats wickedness. We are able to sacrifice because Christ has offered the perfect sacrifice. Now, consider this awkward moment while Jesus is teaching in Luke 11:27-28.
As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, “God bless your mother—the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (NLT)
It is a quick, obscure reference to Mary. While odd, God placed these two verses in Luke’s gospel for a reason. What makes a person blessed? Jesus corrects the unidentified woman. It’s not Mary’s womb that makes her special; it’s the fact that she obeys God’s Word. Mary is the model of courage. But Jesus ranks obedience to God’s Word above the special place of his mother. God gives courage—we find courage—when we hear and keep God’s Word. Selfishness is weakness. Selflessness is strength. Cowards think of themselves. The courageous think of others. Courage is not risk-taking for personal gain. Courage is obeying God so others can gain.
You will be afraid at times. Fear is unavoidable. The moment you face fear, you have a choice: Self-preservation or seeking God’s will. Mary chose God’s will. In fact, her courage was rooted in her care for baby Jesus. On Sunday, we will explore this idea more. Onward!