Matthew 1, Luke 1, John 19:25-27, Galatians 4:4, Acts 1:14
Mary had royal blood flowing through her veins. Her godly response to the surprising message of Gabriel is a remarkable testimony to her knowledge of Old Testament themes – especially salvation. The biblical truth throughout Mary’s song, the Magnificat, teaches us much about the character of God and his purposes in salvation history. She was a student of the Old Testament. Later in the Christmas story we learn that she ponders, reflects and thinks about what God is doing. She stores these things in her heart. And there’s more we can say about her story but I want to focus on the spirituality of this teenage girl.
She reminds me of Lady Jane Grey, the great niece of Henry VIII. At 15 she was third in line to the throne and was married off to Lord Guildford Dudley. The young and sickly King Edward VI died and the plan was to present Lady Jane Grey as his heir. She reigned for nine days and was then deposed and imprisoned in the Tower. It was dangerous to be in the Tudor dynasty! More can be said about her but I want to concentrate on her spirituality. Not much older than 16 she engaged in theological controversy that cost her life. Like the young Mary, mother of Jesus, she knew her Scriptures.
O Lord, thou God and Father of my life, hear me, poor and desolate woman, which flieth unto thee only in all troubles and miseries. Thou, O Lord, art the only defender and deliverer of those who put their trust in thee; therefore, I being defiled with sin, encumbered with affliction, unquieted with troubles, wrapped in cares, overwhelmed with miseries, vexed with temptations, and grievously tormented with the long imprisonment… of my sinful body do come unto thee, O merciful Saviour, craving thy mercy and help, without the which so little help of deliverance is left, that I may utterly despair of any liberty.
The lives of these two women pose a challenge to us today. What are we doing to encourage the spirituality of our teenage girls?
A rich business woman, a dealer in Roman purple, from a Gentile region. A worshiper and god-fearer who was converted and baptised and identified herself, no doubt putting her business reputation at risk, with the despised sect of the Christians. Wealth and reputation couldn’t satisfy – that came from faith in Christ alone. She found what money couldn’t buy – peace with God and sins forgiven.
In the 18th century another rich woman sought peace with God. She was much intrigued by the testimony of her sister-in-law Lady Margaret Hastings who said that since she’d found Christ for salvation she had been ‘as happy as an angel’. Lady Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, was affected by the revival that was transforming British society, then in the grip of the Gin Craze. Through the preaching of the gospel from the lips of such men as George Whitefield, she came to Christ and her life burned with a purpose. She was described by the King as being ‘all aflame for Jesus’. She would hold soirees and invite the lords and ladies of the land to hear Whitefield preach. At the same time her kitchen would be open downstairs and her servants would be dispensing parcels of food and clothing to the poor nearby, with gospel encouragements. She identified herself with the despised new Methodist groupings and supported their ministers. She set up a Bible College to train pastors for this new denomination, just down the road from me at Trevecca. When churches were needed to house the converts of the revival with her pastors in the pulpit she sold her jewels and houses to pay for new chapels to be built, giving the equivalent of £1million pounds of today’s money during the 18th century revival.
How are we using what God has given us in the service of his kingdom?
Don’t look at your life as a chronicle of wasted time. You are the daughter of the King and a daughter of grace. Let’s celebrate being on a journey to a destination worth travelling to, with a person worth travelling with!
 John Foxe, Book of Martyrs, volume 2, 1875, p.1008. Quoted in Lady Jane Grey – Nine Day Queen of England. By Faith Cook. (Darlington, England: EP Books, 2004), p.168.