The Christmas song “Mary Did You Know” is a pretty good one, and the Pentatonix version of it is particularly lush. Glorious soaring vocals, complex harmonies, and lyrics expressing the wonder of the Incarnation in a series of questions addressed to His mother Mary.
It’s lovely to listen to, and Christologically-speaking there’s very little you could argue with.
However, it does raise an interesting question: how much of her Son’s role and future was His mother aware of? Or in other words: Mary, did you know?
The lyrics are worth posting, especially in an examination like this, so here they are:
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy will one day make you new?
The Child that you deliver will soon deliver you?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of The Lamb.
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great I Am.
A look at the Scripture reveals some interesting answers. “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?” leads us to the answer, probably not. There’s no particular fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy in that miraculous sign; no reason she’d be able to be aware of it. The angel said nothing about walking on the Sea of Galilee, or feeding 5000 men with five loaves and two small fish, or giving sight to a blind man named Bartimaeus in the city of Jericho.
But to the other questions and statements, like “the Child that you deliver will soon deliver you”, well, the Scriptural answer is yes.
Her husband Joseph was told by the angel, when he was contemplating putting her away quietly, that “you will call Him Jesus, because He will save the people from their sins”. This is a clear Messianic reference even if it wasn’t exactly the sort of Messiah they’d been expecting, and only a high-order moron would suppose that he never discussed it with his wife.
Even Mary herself was told a great deal: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High”, “So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”, and so on.
Elizabeth told her more: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so fortunate, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Even Zechariah’s prophetic words at the birth of Jesus’ cousin John would have found their way to Mary’s ears quite easily: “And you, my son, will be a prophet of the Most High, to prepare the way for Him…”
Then there were the words of the shepherds who came to see Him laying in the manger, and the Magi who came some time later. She had enough to go on that it would take an unusually dense person not to know; not the sort of person God is likely to pick as the mother of His Son, and not the sort of person the Scriptural evidence indicates He did pick. Mary gets it enough to make the gutsy, faith-filled declaration that “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me according to your word”. It would be incongruous to suggest that she’s suddenly become clueless.
Did she know the precise details of individual signs and miracles He would perform? It seems unlikely. But she certainly knew Who He was and that He was capable of them. Just look at the way she pushes Him forward at Cana!
But in a way, whether she knew or not doesn’t actually matter. Though the song purports to be addressed to the Virgin Mary, it’s actually addressed to we who listen. Mary is, after all, beyond the place where she could give an answer we can expect to hear; she’s with the One to whom she gave birth. The point of the song is for us, no matter how it’s worded. Did you know that Mary’s baby boy is the promised Deliverer? Did you know that He’s the Incarnate Deity, God with skin on, with all of the power and grace that implies?