Mary was “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42). She received the singular holy gift of being the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:43). God the Son dwelled inside of her body in human form. Then he lived in her home and was under her care until adulthood. This has tempted some to worship her.
In fact, one woman publicly exalted Mary by crying out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed” (Luke 11:27)! But Jesus corrected her by replying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28)!
Do you see what Jesus is doing? In this correction Jesus is protecting Mary’s true blessedness and protecting us from idolatry.
Gabriel told Mary that she had “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Certainly bearing and raising the Christ Child was an incredible favor. But it was not the greatest favor God bestowed on Mary. Though he gave Mary a completely unique calling, he favored her in a way similar to how he favors all his children.
Mary was not sinless. Mary deserved God’s wrath along with every other fallen human. This meant that God’s favor on her was unmerited — his grace upon her was of staggering proportions. Mary’s greatest blessing was not being mother of The Child. Her greatest blessing was that her Child would save her from her sins. And this blessing is given to everyone who believes in him (Matthew 1:21).
That’s why Jesus directs our attention away from Mary to his Word in Luke 11. The greatest blessing anyone can receive is the gift of the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8). Mary’s vocational calling as the mother of Jesus was a great blessing, but it was nowhere near the blessing of her salvation.
God was “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) to Mary in a way no one else has experienced. But the most important way God dwelled with Mary was the same as he dwells with all his children: through faith (Ephesians 3:17).
And so with her relative, Elizabeth, we say of Mary, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). Because God’s greatest blessing is given to those who believe him.