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Published / updated: 14 August 2013 | Author: Dele Oke

Mary - Mother of Jesus

Matthew 1:18-25; Mark 3:21, 33-35; Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:1-38; John 2:1-10, John 19:26-27


Mary (Maria or Mariam in Greek and Marah or Miryam in Hebrew) was a virgin girl engaged to be married to Joseph when the Holy Spirit came upon her. The presence and power of God led the virgin Mary to give birth to the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:35-38, Matthew 1:18). The Hebrew version of Mary (Mariam or Miryam) means 'bitter or grieved'.

The Story

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary when she was still a virgin engaged to be married to Joseph and delivered a stunning message
But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David' Luke 1:30-32 NIV
Joseph obviously had a problem accepting Mary's explanation of this sudden pregnancy, yet being a kind man he planned to break the engagement privately. However, before he could take this action the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and enlightened him that Mary's child was indeed of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-24). Joseph kept her as his wife.

The angel Gabriel also told Mary that her elderly relative, Elizabeth, was also pregnant with child. Mary hastened to visit Elizabeth. Finding Elizabeth pregnant must have been a great relief to Mary. It would have confirmed that she was just not 'seeing things'. She stayed with Elizabeth till John (Elizabeth's child) was born (Luke 1:35-56 NIV).

Mary the mother of Jesus

Mary is one person who could claim to be close to the Lord Jesus Christ from the beginning till the end of his earthly ministry. What an insight she must have had.

She witnessed his birth (Luke 2:4-21), his dedication in the temple (Luke 2:22-40), his young growing up years (Luke 2:41-52).

Mary obviously went through turbulent times. She knew her child was special. Indeed she called on him to help out at a feast when the wine ran out (John 2:1-12). Notice in this chapter that Mary and Jesus' brothers are mentioned but not his father. It is reasonable to assume that Joseph had died before Jesus started his ministry on earth as he is never mentioned after the birth narratives.

Mary was a woman who had to carry a heavy burden. First she was misunderstood by her husband to be, and no doubt her immediate family, only God knows what they would have made of the 'virgin birth theory'.

Secondly, she would have found it hard to fully understand her own son as he got more and more involved in ministry (Mark 3:20-21, 31-34; Matthew 12:46-50). After all, Mary did have other children after Jesus (Mark 6:1-4; Matthew 13:53-58), so she was fully aware of what normal children were like. She probably never did doubt Jesus as much as his earthly brothers did (John 7:1-5), yet Mark 3:21 might include her in those members of Jesus immediate family who were worried at his conduct.

Simeon's words to Mary gives us some insight into what this godly woman would have been through

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too. Luke 2:34-35 (NIV)

The greatest agony Mary would have suffered would have been when she saw her beloved child on the cross (John 19:25-27). Imagine a mother having to witness her own child being crucified! Mary certainly was someone who grieved. Yet she was firmly in the plan of God for her life!

Mary was a vessel found fit for use by God. Her life is an outstanding testimony to all children of God.

Mary was a woman of Faith

As a young girl she was already full of faith. Notice the angel's words to Zacharias the Priest and his response (Luke 1:13-18). Here we see a priest having problems believing the word given to him by an angel.

Mary on the other hand did not display such unbelief when addressed by the angel. Her response is one many of us Christians still desire to repeat today.

Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38(NKJV)

Somehow, Mary, an ordinary village girl, had more faith in God than a righteous Priest.

Mary's life is a testimony to the fact that ordinary women can do extra-ordinary things for God. God is no respecter of our positions in life. He looks at the heart. A heart full of faith is a useful vessel in the hands of our God.

Mary was a woman of virtue

Mary was a virgin. She had known no man and kept herself pure. No wonder the favour of God was upon her life (Luke 1:28). A life lived in discipline to God's commands brings His favour. Do you want the favour of God on your life? Then change your lifestyle. Bring it into accordance with God's will. God's favour brings God's blessings. Living right is essential to a fruitful Christian life. Every time we compromise our lifestyle we deny ourselves the favour of God. What tragedy. No wonder why satan spends so much time tempting us to compromise our Christian stand.

He knows that without the favour of God we cannot accomplish the will of God. Satan is no fool. Nor should you be.

Filled with the Holy Spirit

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her, "[The] Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (NKJV)
Despite all Mary's virtues she still needed the Holy Spirit to fulfil the will of God.

Nothing can replace the power of the Holy Spirit. God fills vessels that are set apart for Him.

No one can say Jesus Christ is Lord except by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). We ignore the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church today at our own peril. He is the source of all godly achievement.

Supernatural things can only be done for God when His (Holy Spirit) presence is with us.

The angel told Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and then the power of the Highest will overshadow her.

Take time to pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit today. Let us not assume that we have all the power of the Holy Spirit that God wants to make available to us.

All Mary required for the filling of the Holy Spirit was the favour of God. If you are a child of God, you too can receive His power today.

Mary sought God's will

Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, (Luke 1:39 NKJV)
After the angel had finished delivering the message to Mary she immediately set out to confirm it. She made her way to Elizabeth's house. She knew very well that a pregnant Elizabeth was confirmation that she has not just been seeing things but indeed has seen an angel.

Allow God to confirm the things He tells you in secret through other people. In the midst of two or three witnesses the truth shall be established. All the confirmations that Mary was receiving would have been tremendous help in sustaining her through the difficult times that were to come.

Mary lingered around Elizabeth long enough to see the evidence. Elizabeth was six months pregnant before Mary turned up on her doorstep (Luke 1:36). Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56). She was there when the baby was born (Luke 1:57).

The attitude of Mary is one we should all follow. Many Christians today receive prophecies from God and then sit down idly waiting for them to be fulfilled. Not Mary. She stayed active. She sought the things of God. She remained in the right place.

When God gives you a promise you need to pray it through. Play an active role. Never cease believing God for His promises. This is what the attitude of Mary shows.

*Blomberg, C. (1992). Vol. 22: Matthew. The New American Commentary (58–61). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.