This week, we conclude our Faith Heroes series.
In the series, our faith heroes include:
Our faith hero this week lays the groundwork for our Easter series that begins on April 10th. Today’s faith hero is Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Back in December, I introduced you to the main characters in the birth of Jesus. Jesus was fully God, and fully human. When Mary was visited by an angel of God, it was proclaimed to her that she would be carrying the Christ child through an immaculate conception.
Let’s dive into Mary’s life, and see why this special woman is a faith hero.
Who Is Mary?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a teenager and a virgin when Jesus entered the world. Her conception is a miracle, and scholars point to unusual birth circumstances for:
- Sarah (mother of Issac) – Gen. 1:8 – Issac was the direct descendent of Abraham for which the promise of a nation was fulfilled
- Minoah (mother of Samson) – Judges 13 – Samson was a judge over Israel who was a rebel
- Hannah (mother of Samuel) – 1 Samuel 1 – Samuel was a prophet of Israel, and who anointed both Saul and David to be kings.
- Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) – Luke 1:36 – Jesus’ forerunner and Mary’s cousin.1
Scholars point to these women, and their births, because they were all barren. Mary was still a virgin at the time of her birth whereas the others were not.2 All of these women were strong women of faith.
Most scholars believe Mary was around 12-14 years old when she gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. Joseph, her soon-to-be husband, was a few years older than her – somewhere around 18 years old.
Joseph was her betrothed – he was promised to her, and they never consummated their relationship until after she gave birth to Jesus.
As you might recall from the birth narrative, Joseph was planning to divorce her quietly after he found out she was pregnant, but an angel of the Lord spoke to him about how her pregnancy and they continued forward with their marriage.
We do know that Mary had five children including Jesus, and her husband Joseph was a carpenter.3
Mary in the Gospels
Mary appears in all four gospel accounts as well as the book of Acts.4
Here are a few places where she is found:
- The birth of Jesus – all four gospels
- Jesus hanging back at the temple when he was twelve (12) – they left without him
- Jesus’ first miracle – the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) – He turns water into wine5.
- Jesus’ crucifixion – (John 19:25-27)6
Where Was Mary Throughout Jesus’ Life?
Little is known about Mary during the life of Jesus. Some people often mistake Mary Magdalene (a follower of Jesus – she had demons cast out of her) as being Jesus’ mother but that is not the case.
The only times we see her referenced post the birth of Jesus are when he was hanging out at the temple, the wedding in Cana, and his death.
The focus of the Gospels was on His birth, earthly ministry, death, and resurrection. Mary played a pivotal role in the early years of Jesus’ life which we don’t have much information except for the temple incident.
We can presume that Mary was busy with the other four kids she was raising during Jesus’ life and ministry.
Mary was chosen by God at a young age to bring Jesus into our world because He would save us from our sins. In a few short weeks, we will see how Mary’s simple act of obedience paved the way for our chance to spend eternity with Jesus.
Mary’s simple obedience is why she is a faith hero.
Lord, thank you for using ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the history of the world. Mary’s obedience paved the way for your Son to come, and give His life for each one of us, so we could have life ever after. This week, please use us to make a difference in someone’s life as you lead us. Amen!
- Faith Heroes series
- Births through Unusual CircumstancesThe biblical accounts of the events leading up to Christ’s birth share parallels with several accounts of women who gave birth to a special son through unusual circumstances, including (Cavalletti, “Judíos,” 1024–25):• Sarah, the mother of Isaac (Gen 18);• Minoah’s wife, the mother of Samson (Judg 13);• Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Sam 1); and• Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:36).Dempsey Rosales Acosta, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩
- Parallels between these accounts and the accounts regarding Mary include the following:• In each account, God overturns the laws of nature to bring about the birth of a child. Sarah, Minoah’s wife, Hannah, and Elizabeth were all barren prior to God’s intervention. God similarly performed a miracle through Mary’s virgin pregnancy (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:35).• With the exception of Hannah, each of these women receives news of her upcoming pregnancy from an angel.• Both Hannah and Mary perform a song of praise (1 Sam 2:1–10; Luke 1:46–55). Their songs have very strong literary and theological connections.These parallels suggest that the authors of the Gospels viewed these Old Testament accounts as prefigurations of Mary’s giving birth to Christ.Dempsey Rosales Acosta, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩
- In Mark 6:2–3 the people of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, mention Mary when expressing skepticism over Jesus’ authority, stating, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?Dempsey Rosales Acosta, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩
- The proper name Mary (Μαρία, Maria) appears in the New Testament only in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts. Luke contains the most references to Mary and places the greatest emphasis on her (Fitzmyer, Luke, 57–58).Dempsey Rosales Acosta, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩
- John does not mention Mary by name, but he refers to the mother of Jesus in the account of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1–11)Dempsey Rosales Acosta, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩
- and records that she stood near the cross at the crucifixion (John 19:25–27)Dempsey Rosales Acosta, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩