31 Days of Women from Scripture
Lessons from Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
Above is one of the better known prophecies of the coming Christ. Let’s learn about the woman who God chose to be part of the fulfillment of this prophecy.
In Luke 1:26 – 38 we read that the same angel, Gabriel, who visited Zacharias to tell of John’s birth, came to visit a virgin named Mary. She is engaged to Joseph of Nazareth. When Gabriel comes into Mary’s house he greets her by saying, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
Mary shows why she is “favored”. After Gabriel explains what is going to happen and Mary has her questions answered – her response to the whole thing is – “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”
This thing was not going to be a secret. Elizabeth knew immediately upon hearing Mary that the mother of her Lord had entered the room (Lk. 1:42-45). The Spirit declared Mary to be “blessed among women” and that Mary was blessed to have believed that the words of the Lord would be fulfilled. We learn in Matthew 1:18-25 that when Mary was found to be pregnant before having married Joseph, that Joseph made plans to send her away, so that she would not be disgraced. An angel tells Joseph what is going on. Joseph goes ahead and marries Mary, but he “kept her a virgin” until she had given birth to the boy they would name Jesus.
A very pregnant Mary travels with Joseph and Jesus is born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7) in a barn because there was no room in the inns. Shepherds arrive to see the “Savior who is Christ the Lord.” After telling how they came to be there, Luke 2:19 says that Mary, “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
When the baby Jesus is eight days old, Mary and Joseph go sacrifice as the law required after the birth of a son (Luke 2:21-24). A man named Simeon meets them in the Temple. He declares Jesus to bring “salvation” and to be “a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel” (Lk. 2:25-32). Joseph and Mary were “amazed” at what was being said about their baby. Simeon turns and says to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35). Being mother to this boy will come with extra heartache!
While Mary and Joseph remain in Bethlehem for a while, and find a house to stay in (Mt. 2:11), they are visited by wise men from the east. These men come to worship Jesus and bring kingly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The arrival of the magi draws the attention of Herod to the birth of the “king of the Jews”. An angel appears to Joseph and tells him to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt to escape the danger that is coming from Herod. He and Mary stay in Egypt until Herod dies, then they move back to Nazareth.
Over the years, Mary will experience many things like any other mother (Lk. 2:41-52). Yet, she also has all of these unusual circumstances to consider along the way. Knowing she gave birth to the Son of God did not mean she fully understood everything that encompassed (Lk. 2:50-51). Mary did give other children to Joseph (Mt. 12:46; 13:55-56; Gal. 1:19). She raised Jesus as any other child (Lk. 2:48, 51-52). Knowing he would be able to help, she calls on him to take care of a problem in Cana (Jn. 2:1-11). On the day of His crucifixion, a day I am sure was like a sword piercing her soul, she stood nearby while Jesus hung on the cross (Jn. 19:25-27). She continued with Jesus’ chosen family (Mt. 12:46-50; Jn. 19:27), a family of believers, after He is raised from the dead and ascends into heaven (Ac. 1:14). Mary was there through it all.
Mary’s response to her circumstances at a young age is remarkable. God’s taking notice of her and choosing her is remarkable. I believe what made her stand out was her humility and her obedience. After her visit with Elizabeth we are given Mary’s thoughts on what is happening to her in Luke 1:46-55. She says:
- Her spirit rejoices in God “my Savior”
- God noticed her even though she was not worthy
- All generations will call her blessed
- God has done great things for her
- Holy is His name
- God has done mighty deeds
- He has brought down rulers and exalted the humble
- He has fed the hungry and left the rich wanting
- He has sent help for Israel
- He has kept His promise to Abraham.
This young woman knew her scripture. This young woman had a proper respect for God and His authority. Gabriel comes and tells her that she is going to be pregnant before she is married. The worst case scenario could be she was put to death (Gen. 38:24). Best case would be shame and disgrace among her people (Mt. 1:19). But she does not come up with excuses like Moses (Ex. 3 – 4). She simply asks how this can be while she is a virgin (Lk. 1:34). Once she understands better, she readily accepts the responsibility that is put upon her. She responds to the call just like Samuel (1 Sam. 3:4) and Isaiah (Is.6:8).
How do we approach the things that are given for us to do? None of us is ever going to be asked to give birth to the Savior of mankind, so that pressure is alleviated. But we are given things to do. How willingly do we do them? How do we approach nine months of pregnancy? How do we view the dishes that need washing and the rooms that need cleaning? Do we willingly submit to our own husbands? Do we approach these things with Mary’s joy or with grumbling and complaining (Phil. 2:14).
Mary was a woman just like us. I believe what made her stand out was the same thing that made Noah stand out, she SERVED the Lord (Gen. 6:8-9). This was part of her character before she became the mother of Jesus and it remained part of her character, as far as we can tell. The Bible celebrates her as the one who was chosen – but beyond that she goes back to being just Mary. She had to work, to raise her children, and interact with her neighbors and friends just like all the rest of us. Each of us can be like Mary.
We looked at Elizabeth yesterday. These two women, when studied together, give a very good example to women of all ages. These two women are at opposite ends of the stages of the adult time of life. Mary is young and unmarried, while Elizabeth is older, married for many years, and past child-bearing. Yet both have their devotion to the Lord noted in Scripture! What worthy examples for each one of us to strive to imitate – no matter which stage of life we are in ourselves. Worshiping God is not a YOUNG thing, nor is it reserved for OLDER. Living a FULL life in SERVICE to Him is always something we can achieve. We simply have to set our minds to it. Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem as the customs of the law dictated. This took preparation to pull off. It was not a simple, last-minute trip – as is seen when they make the trip when she is nine months pregnant! Both women were called “Blessed” because of God’s choosing them for motherhood. They were not perfect women, just women – but what WONDERFUL WOMEN. I pray that every young lady would strive to be like Mary, and I pray that every woman strive to be like Elizabeth. Do not dismiss your “timeliness” to serve due to your youth or being older. God has work for ALL of us! What will you do for Him today?
What are your thoughts about Mary?
Comment below and let’s talk about how we can learn from her life!
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