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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus and Mary’

These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14)

For several weeks now we have been studying the life of Mary the mother of Jesus. We have seen that Mary responded to God’s call to her to bear the Savior joyfully and with humility, courage, and instant obedience. Mary trusted God and her husband, Joseph to provide for her and her Child even when danger came their way.

When Herod sought to kill the baby Jesus she was willing to flee to mary and young JesusEgypt, a land traditionally an enemy of the Israelites. Returning home to Nazareth she and Joseph raised Jesus as a normal boy even though Mary knew that He was the Son of God.

Mary did not remarry when Joseph died, but depended on her sons, especially her firstborn, Jesus, to help care for the family. Jesus continued to care for her until the day that He began His public ministry.

Jesus’ first miracle was at a marriage feast in Cana that Mary was attending with Him. We saw that though Jesus knew it was time for Him to go out on His own, He showed respect and deference to His mother when she asked for His help. Mary then acknowledged Jesus’ duty to begin His ministry when she turned over authority to Him as she told the servants at the wedding, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5).

After this Mary returned to Nazareth and continued her life with her other children. The Gospels do not say many direct things about her but we may infer some things from what the Gospel writers do say. Mary no doubt led a good life among her neighbors in Nazareth. She probably did all of the normal socializing and participated in the usual customs of the day. She was probably a friendly and caring person and well liked by her neighbors. Though she knew that Jesus was the Son of God, Mary did not go around boasting about her Son or treating Him any differently than she would anybody else.

In fact we have indirect evidence of this. When Jesus attained adulthood He began His public ministry in Galilee by teaching in the Synagogue. People were amazed at His words and wondered, “Is this not Joseph’s son? (Luke 4:22) His own neighbors did not accept Him apparently because to them He was just a normal member of their community. They wanted proof that Jesus was the Son of God and when He didn’t perform a trick for them they led Him out of the city to throw Him off of a cliff.

As Jesus’ ministry progressed people began to oppose Him more and more. Once after Jesus cast a demon out of a man the Pharisees accused Him, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul (Satan) the ruler of the demons” (Matthew 12:24). These Israelites thought that Jesus was evil or insane.

It was right at this time that Mary and some of Jesus’ brothers and sisters came to see Him. Was Mary worried about the anger and hostility that was displayed on this occasion? Mary must have been wondering how things were going for Jesus. Perhaps she was even concerned that He was being too controversial. This does not show a lack of faith on Mary’s part, only anxiety as she observed the life of her Son. We have the benefit of hindsight and we know the rest of the story. But Mary was living in the middle of it. Neither she nor any of the other disciples were clear at this point about what was to happen to Jesus. Mary had to live one day at a time trusting God.

When someone told Jesus that His mother and brothers were waiting outside to see Him, He responded, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” (Matthew 12:48) Some have said that Jesus’ response was being disrespectful to His mother. No, Jesus was not slighting them but trying to make a point. He immediately answered His own question by saying, “Behold My mother and My brothers!” as He pointed to His disciples. In other words, Jesus used this occasion to teach the lesson that those who have established a relationship with Him by putting their trust and faith in Him are His family.

As Mary listened to Jesus explain that, “whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50) she would have understood that Jesus was referring to more than just His physical family. Mary returned home knowing that she had a double relationship with Jesus, physical and spiritual. Jesus was her Son and her Savior.

Mary at the crossWe don’t hear about Mary again until we meet her standing at the cross when her beloved Son was put to death. Here she is standing with other women, and John the disciple. What pain and anguish must have been in her heart as she beheld the cruel and painful death of her Son.

Here again, we see how considerate Jesus is of His mother. Though He has the weight of the sins of the world to bear, He takes time out to provide for Mary. He puts her in the care of John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” John took Mary into his own household. Jesus shows that though He said that His family now includes all believers, Mary still held a special place in His heart. Though Jesus’ time on earth was growing short, He spent some of it doing His last duty as a human son by thoughtfully caring for His mother.

Mary returned home with John and waited for events to unfold. Was she as surprised as all of the other disciples when on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came and told Peter and the others that the tomb was empty? It is very likely that no one understood the full extent of Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth until His resurrection. But what joy must have filled her heart when she heard the good news!

This is not the end of Mary’s story. We know that she was waiting in an pentecostupper room in Jerusalem along with the eleven apostles and over 100 other disciples after Jesus ascended into heaven. (Acts 1:14) The believers would be filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They would then all go out to proclaim the Gospel of the good news that Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that people could receive forgiveness for their sins and be at peace with God.

Mary would surely have been a willing and dedicated follower of Christ her Son proclaiming the good news to everyone. We know that she lived for at least a few more years because of the details of her life in Luke’s Gospel. Only Mary herself could have recounted such intimate details to Luke.

Mary’s relationship with Jesus was very special. She was a model of faith, courage, humility, and obedience for all.

Mary is also our first example of the many women that Jesus dealt with during His ministry on earth. We see that Jesus showed her respect, deference, and most of all love. Jesus showed kindness, consideration, and love for all of the women He met. We will continue stories of these encounters in the coming weeks.

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My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior for He has had regard for the humble state of His servant; for behold from this time on all generations will count me blessed. (Luke 1:46-48)

And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. …And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:33, 51)

In last week’s post we looked at how a young Jewish girl was called to bear the long awaited Messiah. We saw how Mary responded to God with obedience, humility, and courage. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a poor stable in Bethlehem. When Jesus was eight days old Joseph and Mary took Him to be circumcised as required by Jewish statutes. About two months after Jesus’ birth, Mary went to the temple for her purification as also required.

Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt when Herod threatened to kill the baby. Eventually they returned and began their lives anew in Nazareth.

Though Mary’s firstborn Son was special she led a typical life as a mother in a small village in Galilee. There is no evidence that she treated Jesus any differently than her other children. Mary would have fixed meals, washed robes, and schooled Jesus as a small boy. The Bible doesn’t say that Jesus did anything other than what ordinary human boys do when He was young.

Christ_TempleThere is only one incident in Jesus’ childhood mentioned in the Gospels. (Luke 2:41-51) On this occasion Jesus astounded the leaders in the temple with His knowledge of the Scriptures and His wisdom in understanding and applying them to life. Of course Jesus is also God, but on this occasion He showed His attention to learning and His devotion to studying about His Father as a human child. We mustn’t forget that in Jesus’ day a twelve year old had already had many years of training in the Torah. Mary would have helped Jesus with His Scripture memory and study even as Christian parents do today.

Jesus returned to Nazareth after this incident with His parents and was subject Jesus,Mary,Josephto them in all things. This means He was not only a good student, but He was a good Son. Luke mentions several times that Mary pondered these things in her heart. (Luke 2:19, 51) All during the years that Mary raised Jesus she would have been wondering just what it would mean that Jesus was the Messiah. What was He going to do?

So Mary enjoyed a normal family life with her children raising them the way all good mothers did in those times. At some point Joseph died. Mary would then be raising her children as a widow. Being the oldest Son, Jesus would have taken over the position of head of the family. He would have assumed the duty of seeing to it that His mother was protected as well as His sisters and brothers. These were all the normal duties of any son in those times.

It was when Jesus reached the age of adulthood and began to make decisions on His own that His relationship with Mary changed. Jesus made His identity as God’s Son public at His baptism. The Father Himself authenticated Jesus’ claim when He spoke from heaven. The Holy Spirit appeared as a dove over Jesus’ head, thus confirming that God is a trinity.

Was Mary present at Jesus’ baptism? The Scriptures do not say, but this was an important event in the life of a Jew; perhaps she was present. If Mary was there then she saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and heard God’s voice from heaven. These things would have reminded her of that time over 29 years ago when the angel appeared to her and announced who her Son would be. She would have recalled Simeon’s words to her and also Anna’s prophecy. The things that she had been pondering in her heart would begin to make sense. As would be true for all of Jesus’ disciples however, it would take time for the mission of the Messiah to become clear.

On the way back home to Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and some of His brothers or friends stopped in Cana for a wedding. At this wedding in Cana we see the first opportunity to witness the change in the way Jesus related to His mother.

The story is well known. At the feast the wine ran out. This was a major embarrassment not only for the bridegroom but also for the steward who was in charge of the wedding feast.

Jesus:CanaMost readers comment on Jesus’ response to His mother, but I would like to back up first for a minute and ask, “Why did Mary even ask Him?” Did she realize that He could work miracles? He hadn’t done a miracle yet. And what kind of miracle was she asking for? Most of Jesus’ miracles would be about doing really important things like healing people or even raising people from the dead. Why was Mary asking Jesus to help with a less than a life or health-threatening situation? Why did Jesus go ahead and do this miracle as the first one of His public ministry?

In light of this, it actually makes Jesus’ answer to Mary very kind and considerate. His response has always seemed harsh to people, “Woman, (note: not “mother”) what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) At first it seems like Jesus is giving His mother the brush off. We should remember two things.

First, Mary is now in a slightly different relationship with Jesus. Just like any young man who leaves home, Jesus holds His mother in great respect but must make His own decisions.

Secondly, Jesus knows what His life is to be. Remember, at the temple when He was twelve years old He told His parents that He must be about His Father’s business. What did Jesus think of making His first public miracle one of seemingly small importance? He could have told His mother that it was just too bad about the wine but His Father doesn’t want Him doing such trifling works.

Instead somehow Jesus indicates to Mary that He will help. Mary tells the servants to do what Jesus instructs them. In this way, Mary shows that she understands that her Son now has the authority. She is telling Him, “Yes, You are now to go out on Your Father’s business. I will return to Nazareth and You will go and do the work that Your Father has given You.”

Mary had pondered all of the things that were told to her about her Son. Now she is beginning to see the reality of Jesus’ deity. Now she is beginning to understand what the predictions about her Son were all about. There would still be a long way to go as Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth would begin to unfold.

Mary would continue to love, honor, and follow her Son. In the next posting we will look at Mary as a disciple of Jesus.

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But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

And a sword will pierce even your own soul — to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:35)

In the next few weeks we will continue to explore the topic of how Jesus treated women. The most important woman in His life, humanly speaking, was of course His own mother, Mary.

Many people have written stories about Mary the mother of Jesus. She is still the most revered woman who ever lived. Some have exalted her to a place that she herself would say in all humility that she would not accept. Mary exalted God alone. Mary would wish us to keep Christ on the throne.

There is so much to praise in Mary who as an ordinary human being had great faith, courage, and piety. She proved her faith with obedience, her courage with humility, and her piety with thoughtfulness, prayer, and submission.

We learn the most about Mary in Luke’s Gospel. Doctor Luke took it upon himself to interview many disciples of Jesus in order to write his story. Luke wanted everyone to know that he was giving the exact truth of the events surrounding Jesus’ life, and so he wrote the things “just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,” (Luke 1:2). The main eyewitness was of course Mary who was there from Christ’s conception until His death.

It should not surprise us then that there are so many details about Mary’s interaction with Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Mary was still alive and probably shared all of the stories with Luke personally. Even after the resurrection Mary continued to be a faithful witness. That explains how we know the very conversations that Mary had with the angel, Elizabeth, Jesus, and others.

angel:MaryWe first meet this humble peasant girl when an angel of the Lord goes to Mary’s home and announces God’s plan for Mary to bear Jesus. Most scholars agree that Mary was probably 13 to 15 years of age, the age of betrothal for many Jewish girls.

Having an angel suddenly show up in your room would be amazing, perplexing, and frightening. Mary felt all of these emotions, but she humbly submitted to God.

Some people think that Mary did not believe the angel when she was questioning, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Luke had already told the story of Zacharias who did not believe the angel. When the angel told Zacharias that he and his barren wife would have a child, it was just too hard for him to believe. (Luke 1:5-25)

But this was not the motive behind Mary’s question. Mary was not questioning the angel because she did not believe God. She merely wanted to know how a virgin could get pregnant. Though the Bible doesn’t say, I have to wonder if the humble maiden also wondered why she was the one who was chosen. After all, the Israelites had been waiting for their Savior for hundreds of years. Perhaps Mary thought that she wasn’t good enough to be the mother of the Messiah, nevertheless she believed God.

The angel then explained to her that God would be the Father of Jesus. The Holy Spirit would cause the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Indeed Jesus would be the King who would sit on David’s throne. Mary’s response was of total submission to God, “Behold the bondservant of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

And so, Mary’s faith is an example to us. She proved her faith by Mary:Elizabethresponding with humble obedience. Her cousin Elizabeth confirms this, “and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 2:45)

In other words, while it was an unspeakable privilege for Mary to have been chosen to bear the Savior, it was not her motherhood that we should exalt, but her belief in the promises of God.

Mary herself says as much in her beautiful prayer that we have called the Magnificat. (Luke 2:46-55)

After Elizabeth calls Mary blessed, meaning that Mary has received a special favor from God, Mary lifts her voice in praise to God. God is the One who should be praised for all that He has done. Mary wants people to praise God for His mighty acts.

Some scholars have portrayed Mary as an ignorant peasant girl with little understanding of the Scriptures. But Mary’s song of praise reveals that she had studied the Scriptures. She speaks of the promise to Abraham and her Jewish ancestors. She knows that the child she carries is the Savior that everyone has been waiting for. Jesus is the promised king, the promised son of David.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months then returned home. When it was very nearly the time for Jesus to be born, Mary went with Joseph to Bethlehem. Women did not usually travel during the advanced stages of their pregnancies. Was she aware of the prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem? We don’t know. We do know that angels spoke to Joseph as well. Perhaps the angel directed Joseph to take Mary with him. We know that whatever came her way, Mary responded in obedience and with great courage.

Even upon arriving in Bethlehem Mary could have wondered if she did the right thing when she and Joseph found that there was no room for them at the inn. Still she humbly obeyed. It would not have been easy to give birth in a stable. Mary trusted God. Though barely out of childbed, she graciously entertained visitors – rugged shepherds who came by to rejoice in the birth of Jesus. All of these things she pondered in her heart.

Mary:Simeon:Jesus:JosephWhen Jesus was eight days old, Mary and Joseph took Him to Jerusalem to be circumcised. Simeon gave praise to God for allowing him to see the Savior before he died. He also prophesied that Jesus would be a “light of revelation to the Gentiles.” Simeon also gently told Mary that, “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.” (Luke 2:34, 35) Mary was amazed at these words, but continued to ponder all of these things in her heart – something┬áLuke would mention many times in his Gospel. Mary was truly a thoughtful, pious woman.

From the announcement of Jesus’ birth to His circumcision Mary humbly served God. In the next several weeks we will see how she continued to demonstrate her faith in obedience, her courage with humility, and her piety with wisdom and love. As Jesus grew older His relationship with His mother changed in all the ways that human relationships usually do. He respected His mother and yet began to do things His own way.

Jesus did not treat women the way the Pharisees did. This includes the treatment of His mother. The Pharisees twisted and perverted many things with their traditions. On of those things was their treatment of women. We will see how Jesus brought change beginning with His treatment of His own mother, Mary.

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