Though the New Testament mentions quite a few women by the name of Mary, three Marys assume prominence. They are Mary – the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany – the sister of Lazarus and Martha.
MARY – THE MOTHER OF JESUS CHRIST
Of all the women mentioned in the Bible, Mary – the mother of the Saviour, stands out as the most remarkable. There are only three brief direct mentions about Mary’s background before the birth of Jesus. First, she belonged to a city of Galilee named Nazareth (Luke 1:26). Second, she was betrothed to a man named Joseph who was of the house of David (Luke 1:27). Third, she had a relative by the name of Elizabeth (Luke 1:36) who was the wife of Zacharias, a priest.
Mary found favour with God (Luke 1:28, 30)
Most Jews of that time must have been acquainted with the various prophesies about the birth of the Messiah. However, the angel Gabriel was sent by God specifically to Mary to declare unto her that she would conceive the Messiah in her womb. What specific attributes of Mary made God zero-in-on to her, is something that could be known to us in eternity if God so wills. What is known to us however is that Mary found favour with God. How wonderful to be addressed as ‘highly favoured one’! She surely met the criteria for the prophesies to be fulfilled, in that:
- She was pure (Matthew 1:27) Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
- She was betrothed to Joseph who was of the house of David (Luke 1:27) There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse . . . (Isaiah 11:1-5)
Mary had faith in God
Mary believed what the angel said. She did not doubt. Though she was surprised by the Annunciation (announcement by the angel Gabriel) Luke 1:29, Scripture doesn’t mention her sinking into depression or experiencing bouts of anxiety at the thought of being an unwed mother. It would have definitely been an arduous task on her part to break the news to her family members and to Joseph and to convince them to believe her and not doubt her fidelity. Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph had thought in his mind to desert her secretly without putting her to public shame, which means that it was not easy for him to believe in what Mary said regarding the visitation and annunciation of the angel Gabriel. Though there would have been myriad questions in her mind, like the one she voices in Luke 1:34 – ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’, Mary did not express any reluctance or unwillingness to be available for God’s purpose.
Mary acted in faith and her faith was boosted
On coming to know that her relative Elizabeth was with child (Luke 1:36), she arose and ran out to the hill country to meet her and saw for herself that Elizabeth was indeed with child in her old age. If God could bless Elizabeth and Zacharius with the hope of a child at their ripe age, He could surely bring to pass a virgin carrying a child! “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) Mary’s faith was boosted and she broke into a hymn of praise (Luke 1:46-55), popularly known as The Magnificat.
Mary submitted to God’s plan (Luke 1:38)
In submitting to God and allowing Him to have His way in her, Mary played a great role in God’s master plan of Redemption. God is ever willing to work in and through His people. The only precondition He needs is a heart of unconditional surrender. He was able to take an ordinary woman from a nondescript place and use her in His scheme of eternal divinity. He can do the same with you and me.
Mary knew her Messiah
Though Mary bore Jesus in her physical womb, her heart knew Him as her Messiah. Mary would have cared for Jesus during his growing up years just as any mother does for her child. However, she was not to dictate the terms of His ministry as is evident in the account of the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-11). She witnessed His miracles, His trial, Crucifixion and Resurrection just as many others did. At His crucifixion, a sword did pierce her heart as had been prophesied by Simeon. Mary acknowledged Jesus as her God. She was careful enough not to let her love for her human son be a barrier in His divinity. She worshipped Him as her Lord and prayed along with the others (Acts 1:14).
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Believe and you shall see – is the way God works. Mary believed and she saw the impossible happen to her and through her for the entire mankind – a virgin bearing a child, the Saviour of the world. Is there any seemingly impossible situation to which God is calling you today? Believe and yield. Have faith in His plan and surrender to His will. And, you will see His might at work in you and through you to many others.
Allow God to compound your faith. Put no conditions. A step of faith boosts the next. If God is calling you to traverse a less trodden path, have courage enough to put that first step forward even when there is no assurance of support from anyone around. Mary had enough reasons to fear societal stigma. Moreover, a virgin bearing a child without a man had not been ever heard of. An imminent separation from the one she was betrothed to, stared at her face. Still Mary’s leap of unconditional faith made her to persevere till the birth of her first-born. God smoothened all the rugged places to the extent that Joseph not only took her as his wife, but also cared for her – thus playing his supportive role in the birth of the Saviour.
Don’t let your emotions obstruct your worship. Mary had enough reasons to cling on to her first-born. However, she fully well knew that He was not hers to hold on to. She was just a medium in bringing the human incarnation of God to the world. Her mature understanding enabled her to worship Him as her Lord. Is God asking you to release your loved one to ministry? Do not hold on. Release in the Name of Jesus.
Nathanael once remarked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Such was the reputation of the city that Mary came from. But, the good that came of Nazareth redeemed the world!
My Prayer for us: Lord, help us to be faithful just as Mary was and to live a life of unconditional surrender so that we can can see Your plan work in us and through us. Amen.
Click the link below for ‘The Three Marys – Part II’
Click the link below for ‘The Three Marys – Part III’