Who was Mary, the Mother of Jesus?

There are so many Marys in the Bible, that it tends to get confusing. Yet, when we say, Mary, Mother of Jesus, we know exactly which woman is being spoken of. This Mary stands out above all others as the most blessed, most admired, and most favored by God among women. 

Let’s take a look at Mary’s life and determine how best we can use her faithfulness as a wonderful example for Christian women everywhere. 

Who was Mary in the Bible

Mary, the vessel who would bring the Messiah into the world, was chosen specifically for this purpose. While Mary is an amazing woman and the most blessed of any, the Bible gives us no indication that she should have god-like status. So, we don’t need to put her on a pedestal next to God; instead, remember she is just like us. However, Mary was given the special privilege to carry Christ, the chosen woman picked by God.

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Let’s step back for a minute and find out where Mary lived, how she lived her life, and what took place in the months before Jesus was born.

Mary was a Nazarene who lived in Nazareth, a small town just south of the Sea of Galilee.  If you hike up that tall hill, you’ll find a most spectacular view from Mt. Tabor to Mt. Gilboa. So many Biblical events took place around Nazareth: Gideon defeated the Midianites and Saul was killed by the Philistines. 

She had a sister and a close relative named Elisabeth, who is the mother of John the Baptist.

The Virgin Mary 

The gospel sets the stage for Jesus’ birth in the Book of Luke. We discover in Luke 1:26 that the highest-ranking archangel Gabriel visits Mary. Mary gets the surprise of her lifetime –she is part of God’s excellent plan of salvation. Gabriel notifies Mary that she will carry the son of God, and will call his name Jesus. Puzzled, she asked how when she has not known a man yet. He tells her the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. He also tells her that her relative Elisabeth is with the child in her old age too. 

Yet, Mary is not a perpetual virgin. The scripture clearly indicates that Joseph and Mary went on to have more children after the birth of Jesus. 

How Old was Mary when She had Jesus?

What makes her life so extraordinary is the fact that she was a young girl who was pregnant without being with a man. Most likely, at the time of Annunciation by the angel Gabriel, Mary was a teenager, possibly 14 or 15. 

It was a Jewish custom for girls to have an arranged marriage by parents during this era as young as 13 years of age. Since Mary was ‘betrothed’ to Joseph, which means a legal, binding contract just like marriage, lasted a full year. 

Who is Jesus’ Mother? 

Mary was educated by her parents who were obviously Old Testament saints. While many cultures kept women illiterate, this was not the way of the Jews. Mary had a Christ-centered education and understood what the promises of the Messiah entailed in the scriptures. 

We discover through Mary’s trust in the promises of God that she is humble and joyful to fulfill God’s Will. Without any doubt, she listened carefully to God’s instructions and willfully obeyed without question. She obviously understood and believed that the Messiah was coming. What an amazing young woman of mature faith and true worshiper of God. 

Mary was a humble handmaiden of the Lord. 

Joseph and Mary in the Bible

Mary and Joseph were both Old Testament saints or Jewish believers looking for the promised Messiah. While most of the nation were unbelievers, there were remnants of believers including Zacharias and Elisabeth.

Joseph and Mary were espoused as required in the Jewish culture. While Joseph had never touched her, he somehow discovers she is pregnant with a child. With respect to her, he plans to divorce her quietly as he knows it’s not his child. As he was getting ready to ‘put her away’, an angel comes to visit him in a dream. He tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife as she will bring forth a son, and call His name Jesus. Joseph’s obedience and faithfulness to God’s commandments is an excellent reminder of why they were chosen as parents of Jesus. 

Elizabeth and Mary in the Bible

As soon as Mary discovers the wonderful news and the bonus that her older relative Elisabeth is with her child, she rushes to go see her. The scripture tells us that Elisabeth’s immediate response was full of prophecy as her child in the womb leaped with joy and she became blessed with the Holy Spirit. 

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. Luke 1:41-45 KJV

Mary and Jesus

Jesus seems to manage his earthly mission himself, apart from Mary. While there are times we notice her concerns and controlling his situations that seem humanly unbearable, Jesus typically responds with a reminder of his earthly ministry. Mary learns to become one of His faithful and obedient disciples – all the way until the end at foot of the cross, the third and final time they are together in the scriptures. 

We know he loves His mother and takes care of her all the way until the end of his ministry and even afterward with the passing of the torch to John, the man Jesus loved. 

When Jesus was a boy at the age of 12, his earthly parents frantically search for him when they discovered he was missing on the journey back from the temple in Jerusalem. As they find him in the temple, he seemed amazed that they did not know he would be doing his Father’s business.

During Christ’s early ministry, Mary appeared in only three scenes. The first occasion was during his first miracle at the Wedding of Cana. They had run out of wine and Mary asked Jesus to intervene. While Jesus responded with ‘my hour has not yet come’, he addressed her request. It seemed to be a mild rebuke for Mary, yet, He performed the miracle of replenishing it with the best wine. 

Lastly, Mary appears again when the demands of Jesus’ ministry were so significant that he doesn’t have time to eat. Mary and his brothers started calling him during one of these pressing times. The multitude sitting around him told Jesus that his mother and brothers were calling him. Yet, he answered with a rhetorical question, “Who is my mother, or my brothers?”. Then he answered with “whoever does the will of God” is my brother, sister, and mother. 

The Magnificant Words in the Bible

Mary had prophetic words of her own – they were so filled with unspeakable joy and worship that are named the Magnificant, which is Latin for ‘My Soul Magnifies the Lord’. It was customary for Jewish prayers to recite God’s faithfulness to His people. 

This worship statement below is the first scriptural language in Luke 1:46-55 containing messianic hope, scriptural language, and Abrahamic covenant messages. In addition, this hymn of incarnation shows a strong similarity to Hannah’s famous hymn of praise for the birth of Samuel. 

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: 

for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; 

he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Luke 1:46-55 KJV

Why did God choose Mary?

When Gabriel the archangel visited Mary, he proclaims that Mary has found favor in God’s eyes. Can you imagine the amazement and wonder Mary would be feeling at that moment?!!

If we look at Mary as an example, we notice the following characteristics:

  • She sang of His grace
  • Mary worshipped the Lord
  • She was humble and lowly
  • Obedience was at the forefront
  • She praised the Lord for His power, mercy, and holiness
  • Mary confessed God’s great blessings on her
  • She had grace and courage at the foot of the cross

Who were the 3 Marys in the Bible?

Now that we’ve established this Mary is the one who carried Jesus to term, how many Marys are there in the Bible? Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. There were 2 other Marys as well – Mary Magdalene, an early follower of Jesus, and Mary, the wife of Cleophas. Cleophas was Joseph’s brother, therefore, this Mary was Jesus’ (step) aunt.  Do not confuse Martha and Mary of Bethany, she was not at the cross, she already said goodbye with her anointment of oil.

How Did Mary Die? 

The New Testament does not tell us where and when Mary dies. There is a Christian tradition that places her tomb in a church at the foot of the Mount of Olives. This is across the Kidron Valley in the walls of Jerusalem, just before Gethsemane.

Mary in the Bible Meaning

Mary is more of an old-fashioned name in the 21st century, but it’s one of the classical names in history and has roots in Hebrew. Name meanings include “beloved”, “bitter,” “wished for child,” and “rebellion.”

Mary in the Bible Characteristics

Mary’s faith was an extraordinary testimony of child-like faith as we see in the scriptures. She was sincere, worshipful, and dependent upon God. Because of her faith in God, she was rewarded with becoming the admired mother of the promised Redeemer. 

Bible Study on Mary Mother of Jesus

If you’d like to learn more about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, I would highly recommend finding a Bible Study focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was a redeemable and remarkable woman who was loyal to Jesus from the beginning of his ministry to the end of his life on earth. John MacArthur has a wonderful book about the 12 Extraordinary Women in the Bible.

Genealogy of Mary

Mary did have some respected ancestors in her line of genealogy. Both Mary and Joseph came from the line of David as detailed for Mary’s lineage in Luke 3:23-28. Mary was an ancestor of David’s son Nathan and Joseph’s line of heritage started from the royal line of Solomon and is listed in Matthew 1:1-16.  

Some interesting facts to note are many famous women of the Bible we’ve studied are included in the genealogy of Christ such as Ruth, Rahab, and Sarah

What does Mary Represent in the Bible?

Mary represents the virtuous woman we strive to be in Proverbs 31:10. In addition, it represents the kind of woman we should strive to be like. Mary, a humble servant of God, knows many things about the Lord according to chapter 1 of Luke.

  • God is mighty 
  • He is holy
  • The Almighty is merciful 
  • He’s the God of judgment against sin
  • God loves to fill the hungry with good things
  • The Lord is faithful in keeping His promises
  • God speaks to man
  • He is feared 

Let’s not forget these truths and praise Him every day for these powerful attributes. As Christian women, if we carry these powerful Mary Bible Verses throughout our lives, we will surely make a huge impact in the Kingdom of God.

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