MARY, Mother of Jesus


True Bible Teaching - Gods Word Explained

MARY, Mother of Jesus

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary, Jesus in Nativity sceneMary is one of the most famous characters in the Bible. Even people who have never read the Bible have heard about the mother of Jesus Christ. But what was Mary like? What part did she play in the Gospel story?

An Angel appears to Mary

The first mention of Mary in the Gospels concerns the appearance of an angel:

"In the sixth month God sent the angel Gabriel to Galilee to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David" (Luke 1:26-27)

Luke records here that Joseph was a descendant of David, yet when he records the family tree of Jesus in Luke 3:23-38 he gives the ancestors, not of Joseph, but of Mary. Mary was also a descendant of David, but she was descended from David’s son Nathan, while her husband Joseph was a descendant of David’s son Solomon (the genealogy of Joseph is found in Matthew 1:1-16).

‘The angel went to her and said; "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you". Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be," Mary asked, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord’s servant," Mary answered, "May it happen to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.’ (Luke 1:28-38)

Mary’s Song

When Mary heard the words of the angel she sang a song of praise to God:

"My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, For the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those that fear Him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; He has scattered the proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as he said to our fathers." (Luke 1:46-55)

Mary thanked God for helping Israel and remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants. Mary herself was a descendant of Abraham, as were all the people of Israel, and by providing this special child God was showing his mercy not only to Abraham’s descendants but even to Abraham himself. It may sound strange that God could "show his mercy" to Abraham by the birth of Jesus, as he was long dead when Mary sung this song. This is because Mary saw that the child, Jesus, would be a fulfilment of promises that God had made to Abraham. (see Galatians Ch.3)

There is another song in the Bible like Mary’s song. This is the Song of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, in 1Samuel 2:1-10.

The birth of Jesus

Mary and Joseph lived in the north of Israel, but the prophecies concerning the future King of Israel, "the Messiah", said that the king must be born in the town of Bethlehem, in the south of Israel. (see Micah 5:2 as quoted in Matthew 2:6). In order for the prophecy to be fulfilled God arranged circumstances so that Mary, even though she was heavily pregnant, had to travel to Bethlehem:

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who has pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7)

Jesus ‘came down from heaven’

Jesus’ birth was the most important birth in history. More than that, the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus form the central point in the purpose of God in making the world. God had seen so clearly the need for Christ that he is described as "the lamb slain before the foundation of the world". (Revelation 13:8)

This kind of language can be confusing. In God’s eyes Jesus was "the lamb slain before the foundation of the world" yet we know that in human terms, Jesus was not slain before the foundation of the world at all. His death at the hands of the Jews and the Roman governor Pilate was a historical event at a fixed point in time (28 or 29AD). Before the lamb was slain, and raised from the dead, there was no way for men to be saved. All those who died before this event ‘slept’ (a Bible term meaning ‘died’, but death with hope of resurrection). Faithful men born before Jesus, like Abraham and David, faced death with the faith that God would one day provide a way for them to be saved, but not denying that death was real. The fact is that none of them could be saved without Christ. If Christ had failed when he was tempted, or not submitted to the cross, then all those who died before Jesus - and we too - would have perished without hope. Consider Paul’s words on the importance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead:

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost." (1Corinthians 15:17-18).

This is what Jesus meant when he said that "no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6)

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