“Mary did you know… that a song was going to be written on the assumption that you suffered a severe bout of amnesia the moment the angel had left you…”
Pentatonix did a great rendition of this song a couple of years ago, and its currently got over 91.5 Million views on YouTube! But the problem with that is that over 91 million people have heard some pretty poor theology…
Theologically it is a weak song. But…I have a confession…I quite like it! Having said that, I also enjoy Wizzard’s ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’ and Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas everybody’ but I don’t want to sing them in church! Nor does me enjoying them mean there is any spiritual worth to them. But I think there is something about ‘Mary did you know’ that is worth commending, and it is this: It is attempting to convey the wonder of the incarnation.
Asking Questions like ‘did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? or did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man? try to help the listener consider the implications of the incarnation – that God stepped down into human flesh, and joined himself with humanity. The mighty creator of the universe became that which he created! He confined himself to the womb of a Virgin, to be born into a lowly family and live out an average human existence.
Holding her baby that first night, Mary was holding a member of the trinity! Holding the baby Jesus, she was holding the one who held all things! It is mind blowing to reflect on that and to consider the implications of the ‘Word become flesh’!
The lyrics whilst actually demonstrating the ignorance of the song writer – give the impression to the casual listener/singer that Mary would in fact not be expected to know these things. I know as protestants we rightly do not venerate Mary – but come on – credit where credit’s due – she knew what was going on!
Am I being too harsh on the song writer? Perhaps. Regardless lets compare the questions asked with the biblical record, and see what exactly did Mary know?
Q: Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
A: No. But then again how would she know? I’m not saying that Mary is omniscient – just that she was able to understand and retain what she had been told! There were of course actions of Jesus that she could not foresee (such as when she lost him on a trip to Jerusalem!)
Q: Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
A: Yes. Luke 1:31 – ‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus’. Jesus means – ‘Saviour’, or more precisely – ‘Yahweh saves’. Mary knew the meaning of the name, which is why she later says ‘my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.’ Mary fully understood that the birth of her baby was the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham when she said these words:
‘He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.’ (Luke 1:54-55)
Q. Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.
A: Yes. I think in line with the fact that she understood her child to be THE Saviour, she realised that he was in fact HER Saviour too!
Q. Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
A: No. But she did know he was the creator God – and probably not completely surprised that he could?
Q. Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
A: No. But again – she did know that he was the sovereign God – and again not taken completely by surprise?
Q. Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
A: Yes. In fact, an angel who walked where angels trod, named Gabriel, was the one who told her about Him! Specifically that ‘He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:32).
Q. Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
A: Yes. This goes with being “Son of the Most High” and conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Q. Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
A: Yes. The Angel Gabriel was fairly clear on that point…’and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ (Luke 1:32)
Q. Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the great “I am”
A: In summary, yes. Mary did know that – she would have known her scriptures, and understood both the imagery of the Lamb, and the title ‘I am’ – and given that she understood her baby to be the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, she would have understood that her baby boy was both of these things.
All in all – there were a lot of things Mary knew! Which if anything – makes it more incredible!