There is no doubt that from a human perspective Mary played the crucial role in Jesus’ birth, I think all Christians agree about that. What we don’t tend to agree on is what made this “Mary Miracle,” the Virgin birth possible. The Roman Catholic church has said that it was Mary’s uniqueness, that alone of human beings apart from Adam, Eve, and Jesus she was born without sin and was kept from sin. I can’t find any evidence for that belief that Mary was sinless either in the New Testament itself or among the earliest of the Church Fathers, the first generations of Christian leaders after Jesus.
In fact, I think there is a good reason for believing that Luke doesn’t want us to understand what happened to Mary as being totally unique. Now I don’t mean that we should expect to see Virgin births as routine. Rather it’s how that miracle came about that I think Luke tries to show us is an experience not confined to Mary.
Here is how Luke describe how Mary experienced her “miracle”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit WILL COME ON YOU, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35
It was through the power of the Holy Spirit “coming upon” her. Mary’s miracle was the result of the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit entering and touching her life.
Now here is the interesting thing, something we don’t necessarily see in our English bibles. Luke wrote both his gospel and the book of Acts and it’s a shame in our New Testament they are separated by the Gospel of John. Luke probably intended them to be read together. He starts his Gospel with how the birth of Jesus happened through the power of the Holy Spirit working in a human life.
But have you ever noticed that he does the same thing in the book of Acts?
Luke says that the Church, the Body of Christ, was born through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit coming into human lives. This is how Luke describes how the birth of the church will happen.
“ you will receive power when “the Holy Spirit COMES ON YOU,” and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
A miracle will happen in and through Mary because “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” and a miracle will happen in and through the first believers because “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” Just ponder that for a moment, Luke uses the same Greek word to describe Mary’s experience of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles experience of the Holy Spirit.
It’s not just Mary who is pregnant, it seems like Luke wants us to understand the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit can touch the lives of all believers and make them pregnant with supernatural possibilities. And that includes yours!
I don’t believe that it’s just her experience of the Holy Spirit that is an example for us. It seems to me that Mary created the conditions in her life which allowed the Holy Spirit to come upon her in power and birth a miracle in and through her.
The thing I see in Mary that created the conditions for the Holy Spirit to touch her life is her openness to God’s Spirit and her obedience to God’s Word. I think the passion translation really catches Mary’s attitude when it translates her reaction to the angel with these words
“As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass.” Luke 1:38
Jack Hayford comments about this response from Mary and how we create the conditions in our lives to experience a “Mary Miracle”