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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Existence of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: What Do We Know about Mary, Jesus' Mother?

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What Do We Know about Mary, Jesus’ Mother?

The Existence of Jesus Christ – Question 14

Mary is one of the most famous characters in all of Scripture. She was the wife of Joseph and the biological mother of Jesus. We know the following things about her.

1. The Angel Gabriel Told Her about Jesus’ Miraculous Conception

While she was a virgin, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced the coming birth of Jesus. Luke records the following:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 NRSV)

Mary was told that she would supernaturally conceive a Son who would rule forever. She willingly obeyed.

2. Mary Praised God for His Faithfulness: The Song of Mary

There is the song of Mary recorded in Luke’s gospel (Luke 1:46-55) in which Mary praises God for His faithfulness:

Mary said “My soul praises the Lord’s greatness! My spirit finds its joy in God, my Savior.” (Luke 1:46, 47 God’s Word)

Her Son would also be her Savior.

Mary correctly predicted that she would be called blessed from that time on. The Bible records her saying the following:

“...because he has looked favorably on me, his humble servant. From now on, all people will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48 God’s Word)

She was indeed blessed of God.

3. Mary Was Present at Jesus’ First Miracle

At the site of Jesus’ first miracle, when He turned water into wine, His mother Mary was present. John records this:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:1-5 NKJV)

This shows us that Mary realized Jesus’ ability to perform a miracle although He had not performed one up to this point.

4. Mary Was with Jesus’ Brothers and Sisters on One Occasion

There is a recorded account of Mary being with Jesus brothers and sisters in an attempt to restrain Jesus and bring Him back home. We read about this in Mark:

When his family heard about it, they went to get him. They said, “He’s out of his mind!” (Mark 3:21 God’s Word)

The “they” most likely refers to Jesus’ own family rather than the crowd. It seems Jesus’ entire family thought that He was deluded. This may have included his mother Mary.

This interpretation is reinforced by what we later find in this chapter. We are told that His family attempted to speak to Him on this occasion. Mark further writes,

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:31-34 NIV)

Jesus emphasized that His real family consisted of those who did the will of God. We know that His brothers did not believe in Him during the time of His earthly ministry. John wrote,

For not even his own brothers believed in him. (John 7:5 NET)

At the very least, we find that Mary’s faith was not strong enough to keep His own brothers from wanting to bring Him back home. Whatever the case may be, we discover that Mary, like the rest of us was an imperfect human being who needed a Savior.

5. Mary Was Present at the Crucifixion

She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion. John alone among the Gospel writers tells us this. He wrote the following:

Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27 HCSB)

John the Apostle then took Mary into his home.

6. She Was in the Upper Room after Jesus’ Ascension

The last we hear of Mary is with Jesus’ disciples in the Upper Room. We read about this in the Book of Acts:

The apostles had a single purpose as they devoted themselves to prayer. They were joined by some women, including Mary (the mother of Jesus), and they were joined by his brothers. (Acts 1:14 God’s Word)

Here she is called the “mother of Jesus.” After this there is no mention of Mary in the New Testament. We know nothing with respect to the circumstances of her death.

7. Many Fanciful Stories Arose about Mary

After the New Testament era, many fanciful stories were written about Joseph and Mary. However, the only facts about their lives of which we can be certain are those that are recorded in the New Testament.

Summary – Question 14
What Do We Know about Mary, Jesus’ Mother?

We know some details about Jesus’ mother Mary. She was married to a man named Joseph. However, the Bible makes it clear that Joseph was not the actual father of Jesus, but adopted Him upon His birth. Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, Mary was a virgin when the angel announced to her that she would give birth to the Messiah. While she figures prominently into the birth narrative of Jesus there are only a few other occasions where she is mentioned.

She is at the wedding of Cana of Galilee when Jesus turns the water into wine. She suggested that Jesus perform some miracle when the wedding party ran out of wine. While Jesus did perform a miracle He made it clear that it was to be His miracle done His way and in His time.

Mary was also with Jesus’ brothers when they wished to restrain Him from doing His ministry and bring Him back home. The Bible says His family thought that He was deluded. It is possible to conclude that Mary too shared this sentiment with Jesus’ brothers. At the very least, she could not restrain her other sons from wanting to bring Jesus back home. Like the rest of us, Mary had her lapses of faith.

However, Mary was there at His crucifixion. She was taken into the home of the Apostle John after the death of Jesus; her sons, Jesus’ brothers, were not with her when Jesus was crucified.

The last mention of Mary in the New Testament is before the Day of Pentecost where she is together with the other disciples. After this, we hear nothing of her.

While many fanciful stories arose about Mary the only authoritative information which we have about her is found in the New Testament.

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