I wrote about Mary for Women of the Bible.
Her Character: Mary was a willing, humble and obedience God-fearing woman.
Her Sorrow: Mary was a witness to the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.
Her Triumph: Mary was able to perform and accept the will of God in her life.
Key Scriptures: Matthew 1:16-2:23, 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:26-2:56; Acts 1:14
The story of Mary is a beautiful example of what happens when believers are continually in the right position because of their obedience to God.
Mary was an obscure woman who lived in Nazareth. When we first encounter Mary in scripture, we learn that she is engaged to be married to Joseph. Mary was probably imagining what her life would be like as a wife and eventually a mother. Then Mary’s life was interrupted. She was visited by the angel Gabriel and told of the unique task she had been chosen for. Mary accepted her charge because, as she told Gabriel, she was the Lord’s servant.
From Gabriel, Mary learned that her older relative, Elizabeth, was also with child. So Mary went to visit Elizabeth. Her initial encounter with Elizabeth became a confirmation of her assignment. We can deduce that Mary was aware of the Old Testament because of the scripture woven into the song of praise and adoration to God that she broke out into. After staying with Elizabeth for several months, Mary returned home and to Joseph, who was prepared to quietly break off their engagement until he was visited by an angel of God. From there, we have the birth of Jesus, His circumcision, His presentation at the Temple and her own purification at the Temple.
Like any mother, Mary cared for, clothed and fed her children. As a family, they would make yearly trips to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Joseph is not mentioned again after the yearly trip when he and Mary searched three days for the 12-year-old Jesus only to find him in the Temple. Although no record is given of his death, it is thought that Joseph must have died sometime between then and Jesus’ first miracle in Cana, leaving Mary a widow.
Mary was present for Jesus’ first miracle of changing water into wine, and she was there when He took His last breath. He was her son, and He was her Savior. From the Cross, Jesus saw His mother and commanded the disciple John to care for Mary for the rest of her life. Mary has the unique position of being there for Jesus’ birth and death.
As a mother, it must have been incredibly hard to witness her son’s death and to not be able to do anything. Yet in still, Mary had an understanding that Jesus was fulfilling His purpose. What strength it must have taken to endure something so painful. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can assume that Mary assisted the disciples. She is last mentioned in Acts after the Ascension, praying with the apostles in the upper room.
Mary’s example shows us that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We just need to make ourselves available and our response to the unexpected makes all of the difference.
Although she had a humble life, today we can see Mary adorned in fine garments in churches and palaces all over the world. Throughout the ages, Mary has been revered and honored through art, music and literature. She has been called “Mother of Mercy,” “Queen of Heaven” and “Virgin Most Powerful,” to name a few. Yet it is from Mary’s own words that we can sum up her life. She was a humble “servant” who was willing to be used by God. Mary is indeed blessed among women.
Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica. Photo by LaTonja Brown.