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      BY "the three Marys" it is not meant that there are not other Marys in the New Testament, only that the three selected -- Mary the mother of our Lord, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene -- occupy a specially prominent place. It must indeed be apparent to every reader of the Scriptures that these three were distinctly chosen of God for association with His beloved Son, when in this world, in order to present lessons of grace, devotedness of affection, communion and discipleship; and it is the writer's prayer that others may share with him in the profit and blessing he himself has received through his meditations upon these blessed and holy examples, to the end that the Lord Himself may be more abundantly magnified.


      WERE it not that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, one might almost fear to touch upon the subject of this highly favoured and blessed among women. Another reason has operated, perhaps, to hinder many believers from the study of her privileges and character, and that is the sinful idolatry of which she has been made the object by so many millions of professed Christians. The antidote to this tendency -- so grieving to the Spirit of God, and so dishonouring to the Lord Himself -- is to be found in the consideration of the notices of this elect vessel which are preserved in the gospels. This is the task which we have been led to undertake, in the hope that we may understand more fully, as taught of the Holy Spirit, the marvellous grace of God in singling out this poor woman for this unspeakable honour; and also the fruits of that grace as displayed in her simple and unwavering confidence in the Lord, and in her devoted and humble life.

      It may be remarked that it is only in the gospels of Luke and John that Mary's words and actions are described; she is seen and mentioned in Matthew, and with many details in connection with the birth of Jesus into this world, but beyond this the record is silent. Joseph, indeed, in this gospel is the more prominent, for it was through him that the genealogy of Jesus, as the Son of David, was reckoned. (Matt. 1: 16, 20.) Still it was Mary who had been chosen and prepared of God for the ineffable privilege of becoming the vessel of the introduction of Jesus into the midst of Israel, the One who should save His people from their sins; for, as the evangelist writes, "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." This prophecy fulfilled, and the Child born, the bright rays of His glory could not but throw Mary into the shade; and, consequently, in the very next chapter, it is said five times over, "The young child and his mother," not, The mother and her Child. How could it be otherwise, if He that was born was no less than Emmanuel -- God with His people? This fact duly appreciated would have quenched for ever the desire to exalt Mary above her Son; as the Lord Himself taught, in another way, when an admiring hearer exclaimed, "Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked;" for He replied, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11: 27, 28.) It was not the woman, highly favoured as she was, but the woman's Seed who was to bruise the serpent's head, the One in whom all God's counsels were to be unfolded and accomplished. It is He, therefore, God's beloved Son, and not Mary, who is to fill the hearts of God's people with praise and adoration.


      When we come to the gospel of Luke, Mary is the prominent figure in the account of the nativity. Of Joseph's exercises there is here no mention; it is only said that Mary was "a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." (Luke 1: 27.) It was to her, dwelling at Nazareth,* that the angel Gabriel was sent from God. Sitting in the house, as is clear from the words, "The angel came in unto her" -- she received the salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Gabriel, who stood in the presence of God (see ver. 19), was in the divine secret concerning the chosen virgin; and, as is evident from the nature of his greeting, he appreciates the immense favour, together with her exaltation amongst women, which God in His grace had bestowed upon her. His words, indeed, did but express his own delight in communion with the thoughts of God.

      *Matthew does not mention that Joseph and Mary were inhabitants of Nazareth before the birth of Jesus: his object is to show the fulfilment of prophecy in the birth of the King of the Jews at Bethlehem, and afterwards he tells us that, having returned from Egypt, Joseph "came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth," etc. The two records supplement one another, each containing what was necessary for the special object in view.

      But Mary, when she saw the angel, who doubtless appeared in human form (see Luke 24: 4), "was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be." That is, she reasoned inwardly as to the nature of Gabriel's words, what was their "aim and meaning." We can understand this if we recall her character and position. She was a pious, God-fearing woman, and, whatever her genealogy, would seem to have been in lowly circumstances. Meekness, humility, and faith were manifestly the features of her spiritual life, and she might therefore well be troubled at the saying she had heard, and reason, not with the natural mind as the offspring of doubt, but rather as springing from perplexity of soul, concerning the significance of the angel's address. With divinely-given insight into Mary's feelings, Gabriel first of all calms her mind, and then, in preparation for the marvellous communication he was sent to make, assures her that she has found favour with God.* We say "in preparation" for Gabriel's message, for until the soul is at peace and in liberty divine things cannot be communicated. (Compare Dan. 10: 19.)

      *Commenting upon verse 28, another has observed that "the expressions 'found favour' and 'highly favoured' have not at all the same meaning. Personally she had found favour, so that she was not to fear; but God had sovereignly bestowed on her this grace, this immense favour, of being the mother of the Lord. In this she was the object of God's sovereign favour." It may be added that finding favour with God refers to Mary's spiritual state, while being highly favoured speaks rather of her being God's chosen vessel for the birth of Jesus. But the two things are assuredly connected.

      And what a message it was that Gabriel was sent to deliver! "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Vers. 31-33.)

      It does not fall within our object to expatiate upon the ineffable mystery of the incarnation of our blessed Lord and Saviour, or to call attention to the several titles and glories with which He is here invested, inasmuch as it is Mary herself who is the subject of our meditations. This much, however, may be said, that the glory of His Person is surely contained in the name JESUS, meaning, as it does, Jehovah the Saviour; and, secondly, that all the titles given relate to the earth, and to His exaltation in the earth, as the Son of the Highest, and as the Son of David, who should exercise everlasting sovereignty over the house of Jacob. It is as Heir to the royal rights of David, but David's Lord as well as David's Son, that He is here presented. And let not the reader forget that all these promises await their fulfilment, and that they will be infallibly accomplished by the power of God according to His eternal counsels. The kings of the earth may set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed; but, notwithstanding all the raging of the nations and of their monarchs, God has set in His immutable purposes His King upon His holy hill of Zion; and He will reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet.

      When God promised a son to Abraham, Sarah laughed within herself, doubting, not knowing the almighty power of the Promiser. Zacharias had also the difficulty of unbelief when he received from Gabriel the announcement that his wife Elizabeth should bear him a son. Mary replied to the angel, "How shall this be?" But although what was promised must be outside of the order of nature, it was not, as in the cases adduced, distrust that prompted her question. This is seen from the fact that Gabriel is permitted to give a full and complete answer to her inquiry, an answer which reveals two things, the miraculous conception of our blessed Lord, and that the Child so born should be called the Son of God, the Son of God as born into this world, according to the second psalm.* But to strengthen her divinely-given faith, which already existed, Gabriel was commissioned to inform her of God's grace also to her cousin Elizabeth, "for," said he, giving thus the unchanging basis of all belief, "with God nothing shall be impossible." God were not God if this were not so; and hence, too, as the Lord Himself taught, "All things are possible to him that believeth." It was this lesson which Mary had now learnt in her inmost soul, as shown by her response, "Behold the handmaid" (the bondsmaid) "of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

      *It is important to distinguish between this title and His eternal Sonship, of which John, for example, speaks in his gospel.

      And not only had Mary now learnt that with God nothing was or would be impossible, but also, made willing by divine grace, she offered herself, surely only in the power of the Holy Ghost, for the accomplishment of His blessed will, and without any reservation. In all the range of scripture there is no instance of a more exalted faith nor of a more complete submission. She could not be blind to the possible consequences in this world; and indeed we learn from Matthew that she became the object of suspicion and exercise even to Joseph. But faith never reasons and is never perplexed; it simply counts upon God, in the confidence that if He call to any service, or to walk in any path, He will both guide and sustain, whatever the trial or persecution involved. The calm of a soul which reposes in the will of God is unspeakable, and this was the inheritance of Mary at this moment. The favour bestowed upon her was infinite, and not less was the grace which enabled her to accept it with a meek and quiet spirit. In this respect, too, as well as in that of her being the chosen vessel for the birth of Jesus, all generations will call her blessed.


      Whenever there is a work of grace in souls they are drawn together in the bonds of divine love. So was it with Mary and Elizabeth. Gabriel had revealed to Mary that God had also visited her cousin Elizabeth, and with the sense of what was to be accomplished through herself, whether she understood or not the full import of the communication she had received, she had been made to feel that there was one friend to whom. she could pour out her soul. Accordingly she "arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth."

      Burdened with her tidings -- tidings which told, moreover, of God's faithfulness to His word, and of His unquenchable love to His people -- it could not be otherwise than that she should go "in haste." And what thoughts would fill her adoring heart as she sped on her mission! As one of the holy women of Judah, she well knew the scriptures that spake of the coming King and the glory of His kingdom. Such scriptures, for example, as "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem" (Isa. 52: 7-9); or again, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee." (Zech. 9: 9.) The very words the angel had employed could not fail to remind her of these glorious predictions, and to cause her heart to overflow with praise in that she, a humble virgin, should be connected with their fulfilment.

      That her visit to Elizabeth was of the Lord is seen from the greeting she received -- a greeting, moreover, which must have, in a remarkable manner, confirmed her faith. As soon as Elizabeth heard the salutation of her kinswoman she was reminded of her own condition, and at the same time, filled with the Holy Ghost, she was inspired to proclaim the blessedness of the one whom the Lord had so distinguished by His grace. "She spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."

      Before considering Mary's response to Elizabeth, a few observations may be made upon these remarkable words. It will be at once observed that Elizabeth, as "filled with the Holy Ghost," is in entire communion with the mind of God as to Mary. Gabriel had said to her, "Blessed art thou among women," and Elizabeth now says, "Blessed art thou among women," adding, "and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." With her eyes opened by the power of God, she saw as God saw, and pronounces His own estimate upon the one He had chosen for this singular favour. As filled with the Spirit, moreover, she in meekness and humility acknowledged the exaltation of Mary by the grace of God. "And whence," she proceeded, "is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Herself the object of the divine favour, she yet took the lowest place before the one who was to become the mother of her Lord.

      Let the instruction sink deeply into our hearts, that when the Spirit of God is working in souls all envy, strife, and jealousy are banished. Love then flows out unhinderedly, and humility is the fruit of love. Then, after describing the effect upon her of Mary's salutation, she proclaimed a third character of blessedness. Mary was blessed as the object of God's sovereign favour, she was blessed as the vessel for the incarnation of our Lord, and she was blessed on account of her faith -- faith which surmounted all obstacles, and reposed upon the almighty power of God. Like Abraham, she staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but "found strength in faith," giving glory to God. She had thus unfalteringly laid hold of God's word, unhesitatingly concluding that what He had promised He would certainly perform. She honoured God in this way, and now she was met with a divine assurance, through the lips of Elizabeth, and there should be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.


      *This is a name which was attached to Mary's utterance in the early age of the church -- from the Latin word to magnify.

      Let these words of Mary be given in their entirety, that the reader may perceive more fully their divine meaning and beauty:

      My soul doth magnify the Lord,      And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.      For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden:      For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.      For He that is mighty hath done to me great things;      And holy is His name.      And His mercy is on them that fear Him      From generation to generation.      He hath showed strength with His arm;      He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.      He hath put down the mighty from their seats,      And exalted them of low degree.      He hath filled the hungry with good things;      And the rich He hath sent empty away.      He hath holpen His servant Israel,      In remembrance of His mercy;      As He spake to our fathers,      To Abraham, and to his seed for ever."

      It has been said by a well-known writer that "it is remarkable that we are not told that Mary was full of the Holy Ghost. It appears to me," the writer proceeds, "that this is an honourable distinction for her. The Holy Ghost visited Elizabeth and Zacharias in an exceptional manner. But, although we cannot doubt that Mary was under the influence of the Spirit of God, it was a more inward effect more connected with her own faith, with her piety, with the more habitual relations of her heart with God (that were formed by this faith, and by this piety), and which consequently expressed itself more as her own sentiments. It is thankfulness for the grace conferred on her, the lowly one, and that in connection with the hopes and blessing of Israel." These remarks will help us in our consideration of this striking song of praise -- a song which has been well described as "the proper celebration of Israel's joy in the gift of Christ." For while it is the utterance of the feelings which had been produced in Mary's heart by the Holy Ghost, and feelings which were suited and responsive to the distinguishing grace bestowed upon her, Mary herself was lost, so to speak, in her being a type of Israel. (See ver. 54.)

      As may be seen at a glance, the song is Jewish in its character; that is, it does not go beyond Abraham and his seed. In this respect it has often been compared with that of Hannah, for she also, without going back as Mary did to God's promises to Abraham, surveys the whole of His dealings with His people, and triumphantly anticipates their complete deliverance, through Jehovah's intervention, as she says, "The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven he shall thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed." Mary, on the other hand, regards the deliverance as already effected -- effected in the One who was about to be born -- and thus she says that "God has holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever."

      Two things will not fail to arrest the attention in Mary's song. First, that she ascribes everything to God; and that, taking the place of nothingness, she celebrates His grace. Concerning these points we cannot refrain from citing the following words, "She acknowledges God her Saviour in the grace that has filled her with such joy; whilst, at the same time, she owns her utter littleness. For whatever might be the holiness of the instrument that God might employ -- and that was found really in Mary -- yet she was only great so long as she hid herself, for then God was everything. By making something of herself she would have lost her place; but this she did not. God kept her, in order that His grace might be fully manifested." May we all give heed to this blessed instruction, inasmuch as it is impossible that grace can have its full sway in our souls if we are not in our true place of nothingness before God.

      Entering into these thoughts, the reader will readily understand the language of this song of praise. Whenever there is a real work of the Spirit of God in the souls of His people, their hearts ascend to the source whence their blessing has come. So with Mary; her first thought is the Lord who had visited her with such ineffable grace. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Her individuality was merged for the moment, under the mighty action of the Holy Ghost, in Israel, and thus she rejoices in Israel's God and Saviour. It is true that she speaks of herself in the next verse, and says that God has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden (bondsmaid), and that all generations will henceforth call her blessed; but even so it is only as the chosen instrument of the blessing which was coming upon Israel. It was the thought of Israel's salvation out of their low estate which filled her soul when she said, "He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name." For she immediately adds, "And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation," showing, moreover, that it was God's elect Israel that occupied her mind -- the Israel that Balaam was constrained to speak of when he said God had not beheld iniquity in Jacob nor seen perverseness in Israel -- the Israel, in a word, of God's purpose and according to His thoughts.

      The next three verses set forth the principles of God's actings in grace, and the condition of soul requisite for its reception. The proud in the imagination of their hearts, the mighty on their thrones, and the rich, the self-sufficient, cannot stand before a holy God in judgment. It is to the poor that the gospel is ever preached; and thus it is those of low degree whom God exalts, and the hungry whom He fills with good things. The Lord Himself proclaimed the same lesson when He said, "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh . . . ."; and then, turning to the other side, "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." (Luke 6: 20-26.) Far and wide let these solemn words run -- encouragement and comfort to the poor, the suffering, and afflicted people of God, and as loud warnings to those who are seeking their satisfaction and exaltation in this world.

      Mary concludes her song with the language already referred to, "He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever." Faith is the "substantiating" of things hoped for, and Mary at this moment, dreary as were the spaces that Israel would have to traverse before these words were fulfilled, surveyed the accomplishment of all God's purposes of grace for His earthly people. Indeed, everything was both secured and established in the person of Him who was about to be born into this world, even as the angels in their praises say in the next chapter, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill [pleasure or delight] in men."

      For three months Mary continued with her aged* kinswoman, and then returned to her own house. Scripture draws the veil over the communings of these holy women; but we may be sure that they were helpers of one another's faith and joy in the Lord. The visit ended, Mary went back to her home, "to follow humbly her own path, that the purposes of God may be accomplished." Meanwhile, that home was the one spot on earth that attracted and concentred the attention of heaven.

      *She, with her husband, was well stricken in years.


      If God is sovereign in His purposes, His sovereignty is no less displayed in His selection of instrumentalities for their fulfilment. More than seven hundred years before the birth of Christ the prophet Micah had said in the name of Jehovah, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting." That this was regarded as a prediction of the birthplace of the Messiah, is shown from the fact that it was quoted by the chief priests and scribes in answer to Herod's question where Christ should be born. But Mary's home was at Nazareth in Galilee, and the time was drawing near for the birth of her holy Child; and lo, "it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world [the 'habitable world' -- the Roman empire] should be taxed." The effect of this decree was that Joseph (together with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child), was compelled, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to go up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. Little did the Roman emperor know what would be the consequence of the thought which had come into his mind. As a writer has remarked, "This act only accomplishes the marvellous purpose of God, causing the Saviour-king to be born in the village where, according to the testimony of God, that event was to take place." And what is so remarkable is, that though the decree was issued, and Joseph and Mary, doubtless with many others, repaired to their city to be enregistered, it would yet appear that the census was not actually made until some time afterwards, "when Cyrenius was governor of Syria." How admirable the wisdom of God, and the perfection of His ways! Joseph must take Mary his wife to Bethlehem, and God constrains the emperor to set the machinery of his empire in motion that Joseph may be compelled to go. What a proof it is that God still holds the reins of government in His hands, and that He turns the hearts of men whithersoever He will! The Christian believes and knows it; and he thus rests in peace in the midst of all the busy activities of men, and amid all the confusion, turbulence, and strife which prevail on every hand.

      It was while Joseph and Mary were at Bethlehem that Mary "brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Ver. 7.) It is no part of our object to consider the incarnation at this time: we are rather concerned with the personal history of Mary. We venture, however, to offer the reflections of another upon this stupendous event, upon this mystery of mysteries: "The Son of God is born in this world, but He finds no place there. The world is at home, or at least by its resources it finds a place, in the inn; it becomes a kind of measure of man's place in, and reception by, the world; the Son of God finds none, save in the manger. Is it for nothing that the Holy Ghost records this circumstance? No! There is no room for God, and that which is of God, in this world. So much the more perfect, therefore, is the love that brought him down to earth. But He began in a manger, and ended on the cross, and along the way He had not where to lay His head." So it was; and surely, as believers, we are constrained to bow with reverence and adoration in the presence of our God, as we contemplate the manner in which He became "God manifest in flesh," and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. And while thus prostrate before Him, let us remember that to effect the gracious purposes of His love, to redeem His people, whether Israel or the church, entailed upon Him rejection in life and the cross in death. That Child who lay in the manger was "the object of all the counsels of God, the upholder and heir of all creation, the Saviour of all who shall inherit glory and eternal life." It is no wonder, consequently, that Mary was hidden through all this time; not a word is recorded of what she felt, thought, or said, for in truth she was unseen behind the glory of her Child.


      If we refer to these pious men, who were elected of God to receive the announcement of the birth of "a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord," it is only because of their connection with Mary's history. It was not with the great of the earth that God was at this moment concerned; but it was with His poor and afflicted people, amongst whom these shepherds were numbered. Divine communications can only be received by those whose hearts have been divinely prepared; and hence we may be confident that these humble men were amongst those that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (See ver. 38.) Thus it was to these, as they were keeping watch over their flock by night, that the angel was sent to carry them good tidings of great joy, which should be to all (the) people; and to certify their faith a sign was given unto them: "Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." No sooner had he delivered his message than "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men" (good pleasure in men).

      Leaving the devout reader to meditate upon these words, words which tell at least that all God's purposes of blessing for His people Israel were already realised in the Person of His beloved Son, we must follow the shepherds. With simple faith, without a question as to the truth of what they had heard, they said one to another, "Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." What a sight it was that greeted their eyes! They might not have comprehended the full import of what they saw, or the glory of the Child. Still they saw Him, and, it cannot be doubted, with adoring hearts. Not a word is recorded of anything they or Mary or Joseph said. Is it because they were feasting their eyes upon the Saviour, Christ the Lord, as He lay there in the manger? And yet they must have spoken, for after the statement made concerning their testimony "about the country," and the effect it produced, it is said that "Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Combining this with the last clause of verse 57, we gather that Mary was a quiet, meditative, reflective soul. Chosen for such a mission, and with such a charge, it could scarcely be otherwise. With even the feeblest sense of the character of her Child she must have been awed in the presence of God, and speech would be almost incongruous. Man would like to know more of her thoughts as she gazed upon the face of that wondrous Child, the One of whom Isaiah prophesied and said, "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;" but great as was the favour bestowed upon Mary, it was not she, but her Son, who was the object of heaven, the object of God's counsels, and the One in whom the glory of God would be upheld, vindicated, and made good even in this world. We can, however, admire the beautiful traits of her character which were so conspicuous in her pious and godly demeanour.


      The godly and devout character of Mary and Joseph is testified to by their careful attention, in every particular, to the word of God. Both in respect of the circumcision of the holy Child Jesus, and in Mary's own purification, they were found in exact obedience to the prescriptions of the law (see Leviticus 13), as likewise in the presentation of Jesus to the Lord, "as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord." Forty days were to elapse before Mary could thus appear in the temple at Jerusalem; and it was during this time that the visit of the wise men from the east, as recorded by Matthew, must have occurred. In that scene, as in the visit of the shepherds, Mary is in the background, and we may surely say that she was there willingly. In communion with God's mind, at least in her measure, she would delight, in the recognition of the coming glory of the One who was "born King of the Jews;" and she would in no wise be astonished when she saw them fall down and worship Him, or when they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts -- gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. It was her joy that she had been the chosen vessel of His birth; but she had thenceforward to learn that to be in relationship and identification with God's Anointed would entail upon her the persecution of the god of this world. The moment God's Man-child was born, the dragon (Satan), who had been waiting for the event, sought to devour Him. Mary, with Joseph, as well as Jesus, became the object of the enmity of the wicked king; but sheltered by divine protection and guidance, when they had to flee into Egypt, and again, after they had returned to the land of Israel, into Galilee to their former home, they enjoyed the inestimable honour and privilege of ministering to Him who was no less than the Son of God.

      Recalling these incidents to connect the narrative, we may now consider the scene in the temple. Malachi had written, "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple," and lo! He had come -- "when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law." Jerusalem that day was pursuing her course, her people were buying and selling, attending to their household duties and their daily avocations; their Idumean king, blood thirsty and cruel, miserable and unhappy, but blinding his subjects with his munificence and the splendour of his edifices, was bent as ever upon the gratification of his evil lusts; and all alike were in ignorance of the wondrous fact that God had visited His people, that the glorious Messiah of whom the prophets had sung, and whose kingdom should extend throughout the earth (see Psalm 72), was already in their midst, and being carried into the sacred precincts of the temple.

      But God, whatever the attitude and unbelief of the nation, always secured the acknowledgement of His beloved Son, in whatever character He was presented. So in this instance He had prepared the hearts of a few, those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, to welcome His Christ; and of these, two had been chosen to behold Him at this time with their eyes. Mary and Joseph had trodden the streets of the city with their precious charge, as any other humble Jewish saints might have done in similar circumstances, and they had entered unobserved and unnoticed into the sacred enclosure, knowing nothing of what God had been doing. But, as the evangelist writes, "There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon: and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple." Here, then, was one, and one under the complete control of the Holy Ghost, whom God had called and qualified to receive His Son, when Mary and Joseph brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law.

      This wondrous scene may well and profitably occupy our attention before proceeding with our subject; and as we consider it may we remember that we are standing upon holy ground. We read that Simeon "took" Jesus up in his arms; it should be "received him into his arms;" and every reverent soul will at once perceive that this is the more suitable, as, indeed, it is the correct word. He received Him into his arms, we may be sure, from the hands of Mary. What a sight! That pious and devoted mother handing her Child into the arms of the aged Simeon, and Simeon to have the inestimable privilege of receiving into his arms that Child in whom all the counsels of God were to be established and perfected!

      And who was that Child? He was the Word become flesh, of whom it is written, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD." (John 1: 1.) He was "the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by ["in"] Him all things consist."* He was the One in whom "all the fulness was pleased to dwell." (Col. 1: 15-19); He was the "Son whom God hath appointed the Heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds . . . . the brightness of [the] glory, and the express image of his Person, and upholding all things by the word of his power." (Heb. 1: 2, 3.) On the other hand, as born into this world, He was the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, and the Son of David. All these glories, and many more, for He was a divine Person who had deigned to become flesh, circle around, and shine out from, that holy Babe whom Mary gave into the arms of Simeon. Let us gaze to the full, and reverently, upon this divine mystery; for the more we gaze, the more will our hearts be bowed with adoration in the presence of God's unspeakable gift, before such unfathomable grace and such knowledge-surpassing love.

      *There are three prepositions here used, the force of which may be given in the words of one competent to speak upon this subject. He says, "En, in the power of whose Person, He was the One whose intrinsic power characterised the creation. It exists as His creature; dia, the instrumental power, eis, 'for.' Thus en, dia, eis, the characteristic power, active instrument, and end."

      Simeon stood before God with THIS CHILD in his arms; and with an overflowing heart he blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." All his desires were satisfied, every link with earth was broken as soon as he possessed God's salvation, and he was ready to depart in peace. Like Moses also, yea, beyond the experience of Moses when he stood on Pisgah and saw the land which God had provided for His people, Simeon, with the holy Child in his arms, was at the centre of God's counsels, and thence he looked onward to the time when the Gentiles would be brought into the light, and when Christ would be the glory of His people Israel.

      Joseph and the Child's mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him, as well they might, for here we only know in part; it is only gradually we acquire and come into the power of the truth we profess to acknowledge. Two things follow. To be associated with Christ in this world brings both blessing and sorrow, and this is here exemplified in Mary. Simeon had "blessed" God, and now he blessed them -- Joseph and Mary; and then, addressing Mary, he said, "Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also); that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." God thus in tender grace, through His servant Simeon, prepared Mary for her Child's path of sorrow and rejection. And who can doubt that it was chiefly when she stood by the cross of Jesus, and beheld His sorrow, that the sword pierced through her own soul also? How merciful it is in the ways of God that it is only gradually we approach our sorrows, and that we find when they come upon us that they are "lustred with his love"! Mary would never forget these words, but "pondering them in her heart," she would be constantly laying them out before God in her meditations and prayers. But if through her life she had to live under the shadow of the cross, she would find, we may be assured, ample compensation and sustenance in the company of her Son. There would be much she could not understand, but she would certainly rest in the knowledge that Jesus, Jehovah the Saviour, was with her, and hence that, in all the earth, there was no one endowed with such an unspeakable privilege and blessing. For His sake, and from love to Him, she would be enabled to survey the future, and to leave it all in the hands of Him who had chosen her for the path.

      The poverty of Joseph and Mary is incidentally seen in the sacrifice they brought in connection with the presentation of Jesus. In Leviticus we read, concerning the law of purifying for a woman who has borne a child: "If she be not able to bring a lamb [for a burnt offering], then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean." (Lev. 12: 8,) Mary was "not able" to bring a lamb; and the Spirit of God thus calls our attention to the fact that our Lord was born in the circumstances of humble life, that His "mind" was, from the outset, yea, before He came to earth, to humble Himself. What mother would not, if she could, surround her child with every comfort and even luxury? But all was ordered by divine wisdom, and as we consider not only the circumstances of our Lord's birth, but the pathway of Him who had not where to lay His head, we are only the more impressed with His unspeakable grace.

      The rites of the temple, together with Simeon's prophetic utterances, were ended, and when Joseph and Mary "had performed all things according to the law of the Lord," they left the temple, went down the steps, and through the temple gates with their precious charge, and "they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth," where they pursued their daily avocations, possessed of a divine secret which no one in Nazareth knew but themselves.


      Twelve years passed by, and concerning this whole period two things only are mentioned. The first is, that "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him;" and the second is, that "his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover." This is another testimony to the piety of Mary and her husband, and it may be that it is on this account the fact is noted; for it is not even said if Mary took the child Jesus with her on these occasions. Not a word is added to gratify human curiosity; only that is given which is requisite for the object the Spirit of God has in view. All is divinely perfect, because every word of scripture is the expression of divine wisdom; indeed, the fact stated in verse 41 is but the introduction to the incident which follows, and it is this we now proceed to consider, in so far at least as it relates to Mary.

      The first two verses will prepare our way -- "And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it." It would seem from Jewish records that twelve was the age when Jewish youths were considered sufficiently mature to take upon themselves their individual responsibilities before God. A boy who had reached this age was termed "son of the law," and then first incurred legal obligations.*

      *See ALFORD'S Greek Testament, in loco, vol. i. p. 418.

      Be this as it may, the fact is here given that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem when He was at the age of twelve, and it cannot be without significance that it is especially notified. What transpired at the feast is not recorded; our attention is directed rather to the circumstance that, on the return of Joseph and Mary with the caravan,* Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. It was but natural that they should have supposed that He was in the company, and that therefore they should have made a day's journey without anxiety. But then, failing to find Him among their, kinsfolk and acquaintance, they turned back to Jerusalem seeking Him. For three days they were anxiously and with distress of heart occupied with their search. This was undoubtedly divinely arranged, for until the "child Jesus" had done His Father's will it could not be that He should be interrupted. At the end of this time "they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions." Let the reader here notice how the Holy Spirit, before recording the words of Mary, calls attention to the wisdom displayed by this holy Child -- wisdom so strikingly manifested, "that all who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers." How true it is that God delights to occupy us with the perfections of His beloved Son! Mary and Joseph -- humble people that they were, though Joseph was the son of David (Matt. 1: 21) -- were amazed at the sight, and Mary, with the impulse of a mother's heart, at once interposed and said, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing."

      *It is said that all who went up to Jerusalem for the feast from the same district travelled together for convenience and security. It is possible that an allusion to this custom is found in Psalm 84: 7.

      Before entering upon the reply of Jesus, these words of Mary must be considered. More than twelve years had now passed since the marvellous communications of Gabriel, and almost as long since the prophetic utterances of the aged Simeon. These years, interrupted only by the journey to Jerusalem on the recurring festival of the passover, had been quietly passed at Nazareth in the ordinary duties of domestic life. It is not inconceivable that, whatever the perfections of her Son, ever more manifested with His growth in years, Mary was partially blinded by the naturalness of His daily life, or at least that she was sometimes forgetful of the destiny that awaited her Son. We may not speculate, or go beyond scripture, but there are two things in this address to Jesus which seem very distinctly to justify the above suppositions. The first is the implied reproach conveyed in her words, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?" and the second is her use of the term, in including Joseph with herself, "Thy father." We need not mark these things as failures, though we cannot doubt that they sprang from purely natural feelings and relationships. On the other hand, it is as evident that the manner of her speech was the offspring of her intense affection for her perfect Child.

      The answer of Jesus to His mother was the declaration of His consciousness of His divine relationship, together with the announcement that He had come to do His Father's will. Mary had said of Joseph to Jesus, "Thy father." The answer was that He had remained in Jerusalem because, as He said, "I must be about My Father's business." His Father's will was to be the supreme law of His life, and it was His joy to acknowledge it; and in its acknowledgement He fully answered Mary's question and removed at the same time her unconcealed reproach. We cannot be surprised that they "understood not the saying which he spake unto them."

      Thereupon we read that "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." His reply to Mary in the temple throws a flood of light upon all these years that came between His first passover and His baptism, because He had by it clearly defined His position. He was hereto be "about his Father's business" and consequently, in being subject to Joseph and Mary, He was doing His Father's will in like manner as when He tarried behind in Jerusalem. There was not, there could not be, any discord between His daily life and what men term the more sacred duties. Every breath, every feeling, every thought, every word, and every deed were but the fruits of His entire devotedness to His Father's will, for He always did the things that pleased Him. (John 8: 29.) What a spectacle passed daily before the eyes of Mary and Joseph in that humble abode at Nazareth!

      "His mother," we are told in conclusion, "kept all these sayings in her heart" -- the sayings at Jerusalem and the sayings surely at Nazareth; and as she guarded and meditated upon them, we may be certain that the Spirit of God gave her some perception of their meaning, to sustain, to guide, and to comfort her in the coming years. No, of all the women who have over lived, there is not one who had such a blessed privilege as Mary; she was indeed "highly favoured." But as we write these words we again recall the Lord's reply to the woman who cried out from among the crowd, "Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." "Yea, rather," He answered, "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." This blessedness is open to every one of God's people.


      (JOHN 2: 1-11)

      Years pass away before Mary is again seen in the sacred record. Her last appearance was at Jerusalem, when Jesus was "twelve years old," whither she with her husband had gone to keep the feast of the Passover. Thence they returned to Nazareth, and for at least eighteen years there is no mention either of Jesus or His mother. During all this time in which He was hidden, she also was hidden; it is, or should be, the same with the Christian. Now our life is hid with Christ in God; but when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. (See also 1 John 3: 2.) So, in the gospel, the moment Jesus commences His manifestation to Israel (John 1: 31) Mary is once more introduced. But in order to rightly apprehend this and the subsequent appearances of Mary, it should be observed that her personal history is closed. If she is seen or mentioned afterwards, it is either in a typical way, or to be used to furnish some precious lesson in connection with our Lord. She must not, highly favoured as she was, arrest the eyes of God's people when her Son, Jesus, is upon the scene: it is His perfections, His wisdom, His devotedness to the will of His God, His glory, that must occupy the reader, though he may not forget the uniqueness of the relationship in which Mary stood to her Child.

      On "the third day," we are told, "there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage." Few can doubt, if at least they have entered into the prophetic teaching concerning the future restoration of Israel, that this whole scene is emblematic. The statement that it was on the third day that the marriage took place plainly points to this, whether by the third day is understood the period of blessing (and judgment, if the purging of the temple is added) which follows upon the two days of testimony -- that of John the Baptist, and that of Jesus Himself -- recorded in John 1; or that it signifies, as so often, resurrection, and thus shadows forth the fact that the blessing of the earthly people, even as that of the heavenly, can only be established in resurrection. To comprehend the symbolical character of this marriage, a marriage which, while it actually took place, was selected for this purpose, is to possess the key to the narrative. It is necessary to say this much because men, and even Christians, have been betrayed into the discussion concerning the Lord's personal conduct to Mary on this occasion, forgetting, in their human thoughts, the glory of the One who manifests here, as everywhere, His perfection in every relationship in which He stood.*

      *One well-known Bible has actually falsified the translation of verse 4 in order to conceal the real character of the words which Jesus spoke to Mary. It is given as if it were, "What is that to me and thee?" In the words of a writer, this "is not a mistake, because it is a wilful misrepresentation." A solemn, but a true, accusation!

      We read that "when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." (Vers. 3-5.) The following remark of another will help to elucidate the meaning of this scripture: "At the feast (marriage) He would not know his mother: this was the link of His natural relation with Israel, which, looking at Him as born under the law, was His mother, He separates Himself from her to accomplish blessing." This will serve to explain the typical nature of this scene to which allusion has been made. And truly it was so, that, if Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law, He had to die out from under all these relationships, having perfectly glorified God therein, and having redeemed those who were under the law by being made a curse for them, before He could effectuate Israel's blessing. The corn of wheat had to fall into the ground and die if it were to bring forth much fruit.

      But there is another thing to be remembered. Jesus had already communicated to His mother, as we have before seen, that He must be about His Father's business; and having come to do His will, He did it at every step in communion with the Father, whether as to time or manner. As He Himself said, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise," etc. (John 5: 19-20.) It was impossible, therefore, for Him to receive a suggestion as to what He should do from Mary; and even by the making it Mary was intruding into a province which was exclusively confined to the Father and the Son. That what she said was the prompting of kindness, and that it was, at the same time, expressive of her belief in the power of Jesus, can scarcely be denied; but in the region of Christ's entire and perfect devotedness no voice could be heard but His whose will He had come to do. This will explain to us the words, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."*

      *Commentators are sorely perplexed as to whether these words contained a rebuke. What has been said above will suffice for the answer: it may, however, be added that if a rebuke, it was given in the manner which would best serve to make the desired impression upon Mary's heart.

      That the words of Jesus to His mother had their purposed effect is clear from the fact that she attempted no reply, and that she still counted upon the interposition of Jesus and the display of His power; for she said to the servants, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." This is exceedingly beautiful; for if Mary had been tempted out of her proper place by her intense affections, and perhaps by her desire to see her Son publicly acknowledged, she, immediately the Lord had spoken, resumed her place of retirement, even while looking for some outshining of His more than human glory (ver. 11), and bidding the servants to render to Him unquestioning obedience. The conciliation of her maternal affections with her faith in Jesus as the One who should be called the Son of the Highest, and the Son of God, must have been, in the routine of daily life as she beheld Jesus eating, drinking, and sleeping, ever a difficult task; but God Himself was watching over her, and was daily opening her heart to the needed instruction even as at this marriage at Cana of Galilee. Her concern at the deficiency of the wine was more than removed, as she remained a silent spectator of the subsequent proceedings, and she therefore enjoyed the inestimable privilege of witnessing this beginning of miracles which Jesus did, when He manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him. Any putting forth of what is divine is a part of the glory of God, which is the display of what He is, and consequently turning the water into wine by omnipotent power was this; and the effect was that His disciples believed on Him. They had received Him before, however feeble their faith, but now their faith was confirmed, as Mary's also must have been.

      Jesus having accomplished His mission in Cana of Galilee, went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and they continued there many days.*

      *It would seem from this scripture, and especially from Mark 2: 1, that Mary had removed from Nazareth to Capernaum. It is also probable, for he is not mentioned after Luke 2: 48, that Joseph was now dead, and this may have led to the removal. Nothing hangs upon either of these conjectures, although in regard to the latter one can readily perceive that there might be divine reasons for the death of Joseph before Jesus entered upon His public mission.


      (MATT. 12: 46-50; MARK 3: 31-35; LUKE 8: 19-21.)

      From a comparison of the first two scriptures it would seem that the incident they contain, which again brings Mary to our notice, took place at Capernaum. Here at this moment the Lord was entirely engaged in His blessed ministry, and so greatly were the crowds attracted to Him, that He and His disciples "could not so much as eat bread." His "friends," either in their concern for Him, or inconvenienced by what was going on, "went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself." (Mark 3: 20, 21.) It is this incident which explains the occurrence now to be considered; for in Mark's gospel it follows almost immediately upon it. Again, then, we find Him diligently pursuing His divine mission, and "the multitude sat about him" (Mark), and "while he yet talked to the people" (Matthew), "behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak to him;" but, as we gather from Luke, they "could not come at him for the press," that is, the crowd. Then, "standing without, they sent unto him, calling him," as we learn from Mark. Word was thus passed into the inner circle of His audience that our Lord was wanted by His mother and brethren; and thereon, following the account in Matthew, one said unto him, "Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee."

      At first it may seem strange, after the lesson which Mary had been taught at Cana, that she should have ventured thus to interrupt the Lord in His service. It can only be understood in the light of the incident, already referred to in Mark 3: 20, 21. Although it had been revealed to Mary who and what Jesus was, it could not but be that she had devoted natural affections; and surely these would be both intensified and augmented as she witnessed His pure and holy life, a life wherein might be seen perfect love to God and man, divine and earthly claims (for He was subject to Joseph and Mary as a Child) adjusted. That Mary did not see all the fragrance and beauty of the life of her Son may well be imagined, but what she did behold could not fail to make Him increasingly the absorbing object of her heart. When therefore she saw Him yielding Himself, without any consideration of self or ease, to His service, following it day by day, and never, in any, even the slightest, degree, sparing Himself, but unweariedly, morning, noon, and night, seizing every opportunity to be about His Father's business, she must have been, in so far as she was governed by her natural affection, alarmed for His sake. It is only thus that the message that she desired to speak with Him can be accounted for or understood.

      Before considering the Lord's reply, it will be profitable to point out a characteristic of divine wisdom which is here displayed. Failures on the part of the Lord's disciples, and expressions of the enmity of the carnal mind, are often recorded in the gospels, and yet all these are immediately turned to divine account, either for calling attention to some trait of glory in the Person of Christ Himself, or to teach some valuable lesson of divine truth. Nothing more clearly proves that God is behind everything, that He uses all for the accomplishment of His own purposes, whether of grace or judgment. So is it with Mary's interruption of our Lord's address as here recorded. The parables of Matthew 13 make it clear that the Lord had reached a crisis in His ministry; and it is not too much to say that they could not have been uttered before He had broken off His connection, by His teaching, with the Jewish nation according to the flesh. It is this very thing which the Lord takes occasion to do from Mary's message. How divinely perfect is both His wisdom and also the word in which it is enshrined! And who but a divine Person could have foreseen everything, and made it subservient to His own objects!

      The answer of the Lord to His mother and His brethren is worthy of our most devout attention: "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matt. 12: 48-50.)

      Although we are mainly concerned in our meditations with the personal history of Mary, it is not altogether possible to pass over the profitable instruction of this incident. As to Mary herself, the lesson is very much the same as that given to her at Cana of Galilee. Engaged as the Lord was in doing the will of God in His blessed service, He could not allow an interruption even from His mother according to the flesh. In His devotedness to His Father's "business," He had nothing to do with her. (See John 2: 4.) And herein we are permitted to see Him as the true and perfect Levite. When Moses, before his departure, blessed the tribes of Israel, he said of Levi: "Who said unto his father and mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: but they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant." (Deut. 33: 9; see also Ps. 69: 8.) How blessedly is all this exemplified in Christ in the scene under our consideration! He was for God wholly and entirely, and thus outside of all the claims of natural relationship. He was indeed the Leader of His people in every path in which He calls upon them to walk. (See 1 John 2: 6.) In like manner He fulfilled God's thought of the Nazarite, inasmuch as in all the days of His separation He was holy unto Jehovah; for while His Nazariteship is maintained now in another way, and in another condition, for in that He liveth, He liveth unto God, He was absolutely for God in all His earthly pathway.

      But there was, as indeed already mentioned, another significance. The close of Matthew 11 shows that He had now been rejected, and that God's elect had set aside the nation which would not receive their Messiah. If the blessings of grace were now hid from the wise and prudent, God had revealed "these things" unto babes, and Jesus could praise the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for the exercise of His sovereignty according to His eternal counsels. Henceforward therefore, as it was now revealed, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." When the Lord thus said, in reply to one who told Him that His mother and His brethren wished to speak with Him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? it was the declaration that His natural ties with the Jewish people were no longer owned. Hence it is, as we may expect, that we find Him in the next chapter, going forth as a sower to produce fruit, for He had indeed come to seek fruit, and He found none.

      Together with this we learn that He had formed His most

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