I hope that you had a great Mother’s Day. Sunday and Monday got to visit my mom which is always a blessing. To honor mothers and all women on Mother’s Day we looked at a few women mentioned in the book of Acts. This week, I’m going to make a post of each woman in the book Acts; they all are incredible women and have inspiring lives. They are all very different but God used them in incredible ways.
We’ll start with Mary, the mother of Jesus found in Acts 1:
14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. Acts 1:14 (NLT)
Mary- The Mother of Jesus & Woman Honored Above All Women
No female has been honored as has Mary by millions of peoples in all the world who have named their daughters Mary. This Hebrew name has ever been popular in all countries of the Western world, and has altogether some twenty variations, like Maria, Marie and Miriam.
According to scripture, Mary was a humble village woman who lived in a small town, a place so insignificant as to lead Nathanael to say, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46), but out of it, and from the womb of the peasant woman came the greatest Man the world has ever known. Mary was of the tribe of Judah, and the line of David. In the royal genealogy of Matthew and the human genealogy of Luke, Mary became the wife of Joseph, the son of Heli (Luke 3:23). Apart from Jesus, called her “first-born,” a term implying that other children followed after the order of natural generation (Luke 2:7). As a virgin, Mary bore Christ in a miraculous way, and Elisabeth gave her the most honorable of titles, “Mother of the Lord” and praised her, “Blessed among women.” Later Mary was married to Joseph the carpenter and she bore him four sons and several daughters, the former being named—James, Joses, Judas and Simon, and the daughters unnamed (Matthew 13:55, 56; Mark 6:3). During His ministry, none of His brothers believed in Him. In fact, they sneered at Him, and once concluded that He was mad, and wished to arrest Him and take Him away from Capernaum (Mark 3:21, 31; John 7:3-5). But as the result of His death and Resurrection, His brothers became believers, and were among the number gathered in the Upper Room before Pentecost. (Acts 1:13, 14).
Among all the godly Jewish girls of that time in Israel why did God select such a humble peasant young woman as Mary? Mary was selected among the common people who heard Him gladly. The one of whom He was born, the place where he was born were arranged beforehand by God. Centuries before Mary became the mother of the Savior of mankind, it was prophesied that it would be so (Isaiah 7:14-16; 9:6, 7; Micah 5:2, 3). Born of a peasant girl, and having a foster-father who eeked out a frugal living as a carpenter, Jesus was best able to sympathize with man as man, and be regarded by all men as the common property of all.
Because Mary’s divine Child was to be “holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners,” she herself had to be holy unto the Lord. When Gabriel announced to the virgin whose name was Mary that she was to bring forth a Son to be called Jesus, he recognized her spiritual fitness for such an honor when he said, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). The woman who was to give Him birth, whose breast would be His pillow and who would nurse and care for Him in infancy, who would guide His steps through boyhood years, and surround Him with true motherly attention until His manhood, had to be a godly woman. That Mary excelled in the necessary, spiritual qualities for her sacred task is evident from the record we have of her character.
Taking the Lord at His word, Mary praised Him as if what He had declared had been fully accomplished. What a marvelous song of rejoicing the Magnificat is! It reveals poetic and prophetic genius and a gem of Hebrew poetry. As given by Luke (Luke 1:46-55) this lyric expresses Mary’s inward and deeply personal sacred and unselfish joy, and likewise her faith in Messianic fulfillment. It is also eloquent with her reverential spirit. Her worship was for her Son, for her spirit rejoiced in Him as her own Saviour.
Her “hymn” also spoke of her humility, for she was mindful of the fact that she was but a humble village maiden whose “low estate” the Lord regarded. Mary’s “firstborn” Child was to say of Himself, “I am meek and lowly in heart,” and such poverty of spirit is the first beatitude and the very threshold of the kingdom of heaven. By her “low estate” Mary not only had in mind the material poverty she was accustomed to, but also the sharpest of all poverty, the low estate of one of Royal birth. Mary never claimed anything for herself, but Christendom wrongly selected her as the object of worship and one entitled to a consideration above her Son.
What must not be forgotten is the fact that Mary not only bore Jesus, but also mothered Him for the thirty years He grew up in a modest Nazareth home. There were some things Mary was not able to give her Son. She could not surround Him with wealth. When she presented the divine Infant in the Temple all she could offer as a gift was a pair of pigeons—the offering of the very poor. But little is much if God is in it! Then she could not introduce Jesus to the culture of the age. Being poor, and enduring an enforced exile in Egypt, she had little of the acquired education of one like Luke who recorded her story. But she gave her Saviour-Son gifts of infinitely more value than secular and material advantages.
When Mary brought her infant Son to be dedicated in the Temple, the aged, godly Simeon, taking the Babe in his arms and blessing Him, said to His mother, “A sword shall pierce through your own soul also.” Mary was to experience sorrow, as well as delight, as her “first-born” went out to fulfill His mission in the world.
Following the records of the gospels concerning the conversations between and about Jesus and Mary, the first event we notice took place in Jerusalem where Mary and her husband, Joseph, and Jesus had gone for the annual Feast of Passover. When the ceremonies were over Joseph and Mary, with their relatives, left for home, lost in animated gossip about each other’s affairs. Mary suddenly realized that Jesus, now twelve years of age, was not near her, and searching for Him among her kinsfolk and acquaintances could not find Him. Retracing her steps to the Temple she found Jesus where He had been left, and came upon Him in conversation with the fathers of the sanctuary. In a correcting motherly mode , Mary said, “Your father and I have sought you!”
Christ’s reply was like a sword piercing her heart: “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” The mixed feelings in the mother’s heart, and her almost reproachful language as she sought to charge Jesus with having disregarded His mother’s natural feelings, must have been checked by a sort of awe as she looked at Him in the Temple and then heard Him say that His place was in His Father’s house.
We now come to recorded incidents causing Mary to realize that Jesus had severed Himself once and for all from her control. There were to be further sword-thrusts as she understood that her illustrious Son was absolutely independent of her authority and of human relationships. Now the moment of parting comes when Jesus leaves the home that has sheltered Him for so long. And the striking thing is that we do not read of Jesus ever returning to it! In the home Mary had made for her Son, God had been preparing Him (for thirty years) for a brief but dynamic ministry lasting just over three years. As Jesus began His public life, His first miracle gave Him the occasion for impressing His mother with the fact that she must no longer impose her will and wishes upon Him (John 2). There must have been a pang in Mary’s heart the day Jesus left her home for good, and another heart-wound as she encountered the lack of official recognition as His mother. Whenever He met her it seemed as if He repelled her.
At the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, at which Jesus and Mary were guests, a predicament arose when the stock of wine failed, and Mary, who failed to see that the youth had become a man, sought to order her Son to meet the crisis. His mother, conscious of the supernatural power Jesus was to manifest, approached Jesus and said suggestively, “They have no wine.”
Jesus replied abruptly: “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” He was not disrespectful when He used the term “woman,” for it was the common mode of respectful address among the Hebrews.
Although blessed among women, Mary was to learn that she must not be permitted to control the operations of the One sent of the Father. As the Son of Mary, Jesus was willingly subject to her, but now as the Son of God, Mary must endeavor to be subject to Him. The very fact that He addressed her as woman and not as mother probably hurt.
Then after a double circuit of Galilee during which crowds gathered around Jesus for teaching and healing, so much so that He had little time, “to eat bread,” His mother and brothers came to Him. Had not the men of Nazareth sought to throw Him over the brow of the hill (Luke 4:29)? Now, anxious for His safety and fearing He would destroy Himself by His constant work and lack of food and rest, Mary and her sons “sought to speak with him, and give advice, for they said, “He is beside himself” (Mark 3:21, 31-35). It was natural for a mother to be concerned about her Son wearing Himself out.
Thinking, perhaps, that she might save Jesus from the effects of overwork, Mary receives another mild rebuke in which He hinted that the blessedness of Mary consisted not in being His mother, but in believing in Him and in His God-given mission, and in obedience to His words. Jesus again denies any authority of earthly relatives, or any privilege from human relationships. “My mother! Who is My mother and My brothers?” Then pointing to those sitting around Him who had believed His word and followed Him, He said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 11:28). In effect Jesus said, “I, in working out the world’s redemption, can acknowledge only spiritual relationships.” So the distance between Mary and her Son widens, and the piercings of the sword, which old Simeon had prophesied, were keenly felt.
Mary’s deepest sword piercing came when in agony she stood beneath that old rugged cross and witnessed the degradation, desolation and death of the One whom she had brought into the world and intensely loved. She heard the blasphemies and revilings of the priests and the people, and saw the lights go out—but her faith did not die.
If the cross was our Lord’s crown of sorrow, it was likewise Mary’s, yet how courageous she was. Should she not have been spared the agony of seeing the Son of her womb die such a despicable death?
How impressed we are with the valor of Mary, as the sword pierces her heart again “now that which she brought forth was dying”! Before He died Jesus recognized His human relationship to Mary, which He had during His ministry put in the background, that His higher relationship must stand out more prominently. Commending Mary to John, Jesus did not address her by name, or as His mother, but as “Woman.” To John He said, “Your mother” (John 19:26, 27). But even then she did not desert her Son. Some of His disciples forsook Him and fled, but her love never surrendered, even though her Son was dying as a criminal between two thieves.
The last glimpse we have of Mary is a heartwarming one. We find her among the group of believers gathered together in the upper chamber. (Acts 1:12-14). Her Son is alive forevermore, and life has changed for her. So she takes her place among those awaiting the coming of the Spirit to equip them for the beginning of the Christian community. Mary was present in that upper room humbly along with the rest, including her sons, who, by this time, were believers. So the last mention of Mary is a happy one. We see her praying, along with her sons whom she had possibly led into a full-orbed faith, as well as the other disciples who had met to pray and await the gift of Pentecost.
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