Mary, Mother of Jesus

    Michael O'Malley

    The joys of motherhood

    Jesus’ mother Mary can be perceived as an ultimate caregiver. We know of Mary in how we know Jesus, even in the brief glimpses we get to share with her in scripture. So, who was Mary, the mother of Jesus?

    Mary was a humble Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee. While betrothed to Joseph, the angel Gabriel relayed God’s plan to Mary. Unlike Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:6), Mary receives God’s favor in obedient agreement and would bring the Messiah into the world through a virgin birth.

    Her declaration was a joyful one, taking on the full responsibility of protecting and raising her son until He was ready to begin his public ministry. Mary and Joseph would travel to Bethlehem in Judea, where she would give birth to Jesus Christ in a stable with an audience of shepherds, adoring magi, and farm animals. From her womb and into her arms, she held the salvation of humanity, keeping Him safe from the harsh elements and kingly persecution.

    After Mary and Joseph took shelter in Egypt from King Herod’s orders, they would return to Nazareth, and then travel to the holy city of Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was about to enter his teenage years. It was in these formative times that Jesus would begin teaching. As Jesus grew into an adult, Mary would be present for Jesus’ water-to-wine miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana.

    We can almost visualize Mary, like many mothers before and after her, watching her son become who he was meant to be. Through every trial and tribulation that came between their family and the world prior to His public ministry, she would stand by her son’s side no matter what until she no longer could. We can also picture Mary holding Jesus as a protective force against King Herod, a careful child-bearer and nurturer, and a devoted mother to God’s Son.

    Even as Jesus would suffer on Mount Calvary, it was Mother Mary who stood at the foot of the cross, lamenting her son’s agony. And though she did not lose--and would never lose--God's Son, she was justified in mourning the loss of her son.

    The lessons from Mary, the mother of Jesus

    Grief doesn’t spare the good. As it were, Mary not only knew of her son’s divinity and His incarnation from the very beginning, but Simeon’s foreboding prophecy must have loomed over her throughout Jesus’ journey, especially as he was gaining disciples and teaching across Galilee and Judea.

    The prophecy stated that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart (Luke 2:25-35). In other words, the persecution that would ultimately result in the crucifixion of her son would break Mary’s heart as if she were mortally harmed; this is how immense her love for her son was.

    As the mother of Jesus, she would face hardships all relating back to carrying the responsibility of this title. After His birth, Mary and Joseph were forced to seek refuge in Egypt with aid from an Angel’s warning that King Herod had ordered the execution of all male children two years old and under within Bethlehem.

    The amount of suffering and bloodshed that proceeded this ruthless pursuit is staggering and would have set the tone of how dangerous the world was going to become for Mother Mary and Jesus.

    After escaping Herod’s wrath, Mary would settle in Nazareth. While Jesus was barely a teenager visiting Jerusalem for Passover, He would go missing for three days. Imagine the panic and uncertainty that Joseph and Mary felt, not knowing where their son—the Savior--had disappeared to.

    They would find him in the Temple in Jerusalem, having a discussion with the elders. Relieved, Mary admonished His disappearance, to which Jesus replied that she should have expected Him to be in His Father’s house (Luke 2:49).

    There’s a universal motherly instinct to keep your sons and daughters close and shielded from a tough world, especially for Mary’s sake, where the world was clearly going be hostile toward her son--the Messiah.

    Like any coming-of-age story, the son or daughter outgrows their surroundings and fulfills their purpose. Jesus proclaiming the Temple as His “Father’s House” was a statement to Mary that it was His mission to preach and teach the Word, and when He is resurrected, He will be seated at the right hand of the Father.

     

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    "When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:26-27 (NKJV)

    The triumph of fulfillment

    Mary’s presence in the Gospel wanes after Jesus begins His public ministry, possibly because of the previous lesson at the Temple; it isn’t until Jesus is persecuted and condemned for crucifixion that Mary meets with Jesus again. From the cross, Jesus has His arms open. He is ready to commit his spirit as she committed herself to the son from her womb.

    While nearly every disciple abandoned Jesus at His death, Mary would remain near the cross, watching the Son of God sacrificed, perpetrated by the very people He loved dearly. As she was comforted by John the Evangelist, Jesus used some of his final breaths to address them both.

    Jesus would be taken down from the cross after He gives His spirit in death, and He was buried. After the third day, Jesus Christ is risen. This is a triumphant ending for Christ, delivered by the faith and obedience of God’s will.

    Now imagine how Mary, mother of Jesus, must have felt hearing of His empty tomb after the sabbath, and that the Christ had risen; to behold the fulfillment of her Son, His becoming the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). What a beautiful sight it must have been!

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    Michael O'Malley

    A talented writer and strategist for the CHM marketing team, he‘s on a “digital mission” to profess the gospel to anyone willing to listen. His creativity on social media presents new ways of thinking about faith and what it means to be a follower of Christ.

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