What Did Mary Know? Faith to Know the Triune God

What Did Mary Know? Faith to Know the Triune God

Mary models the right posture towards God with her willingness to trust him because he is good and his word is true. While she had significant questions, she did not allow them to keep her from receiving what God had said. This was an overwhelming day for Mary. Indeed, this faithful monotheist worshiper of Yahweh had to allow God’s Word to stretch her faith beyond what she had already understood from his Word. 

Christmas provides numerous opportunities to learn more about God and his great plan of salvation. First, we can consider Christ’s unique birth as shepherds come to bear witness and the angels sing his praise (Luke 2:20). Second, we can understand more of who Jesus is by tracing the many promises God has made throughout Scripture and how they are all fulfilled in Christ. Often, the connections to Christ are called “scarlet threads” because God’s promises run throughout Scripture and intertwine with one another to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Still more, we learn doctrinal truths at Christmas too. One of the most important revelations at Christmas is the fact that the one God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Wonderfully, Christmas calls the church to look back and see the Triune nature of God vaguely revealed in the Old Testament, but this more intimate and personal knowledge of him is not manifested until the Word becomes flesh; the only begotten Son comes from the Father’s bosom to unite with humanity.

Coming Into View

The first full revelation of God as Father, Son, and Spirit is given to the young virgin Mary who receives this fuller knowledge of his nature by faith (Luke 1:26–38). It is amazing how much Mary was expected to process at this revelation. Consider three things.

First, the angel declares to Mary that she will conceive and have a son as a virgin, a word that harkens back to Isaiah 7:14. Second, the promised child is declared to be great and the Son of the Most High, language that combines 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2. Third, the Son will be given the throne of David and will reign forever, also a reference to the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:14 that God would be like a father to the forever king and that the forever king will be like a son to him.

These three declarations to Mary help us appreciate God’s progressive revelation as the promised son and king is now known as the Son of God. The Son of the Most High would add to himself humanity so that he could be the forever king promised in 2 Samuel.

But How Much Did Mary Know?

It is not clear how much Mary understood this revelation into the nature of God, nor how her commitment to worshiping one God was being reshaped. However, it is clear that she received it by faith while seeking more understanding. With faith, she protests, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). In comparison to her uncle Zechariah’s request for confirmation when he was told that in his old age he would have a son (Luke 1:18), Mary’s response is of a different type. While Zechariah was rebuked and made mute for his question that revealed doubt, Mary does not ask for proof. Rather, she asks an honest and important question.

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