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Studies on the Women of the Bible
Davis W. Huckabee
MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” (Luke 1:26-35).
First, some disclaimers are needed. Mary was not the MOTHER OF GOD as Catholics like to characterize her. For while Jesus was indeed the Son of God and Deity in the fullest sense of the word, Mary was not the mother of His deity, but was only the mother of His human nature that He assumed for some thirty plus years. It is a form of blasphemy to call Mary the Mother of God, for God has no Mother. This is the natural result of Mariolatry—the worship of Mary—and in the Day of Judgment she will be the first to condemn all that have been deceived into worshipping her.
And another mistaken idea of Catholicism is in giving the phrase “highly favored,” (v. 28), the meaning that she is “the fountain of grace.” This is the same Greek word that Inspiration has used of all saved people in Ephesians 1:6, and differs only in tense in these two places. It means literally to endow with grace, and the Greek word appears nowhere else but these two places. In using this word of Mary it was simply saying, as she will shortly acknowledge herself, that she was saved by grace, as all believers are.
We have already called attention to the monstrous system of Mariology fruiting in Mariolatry. The base of it all is in the angel’s salutation to Mary: “Hail thou that art highly favored—thou that hast favor with God.” It is a matter of translation. Shall we render “highly favored” (Greek, kecharitomene) “mother of grace” or “daughter of grace?” Does it mean “fountain of grace,” or “endued with grace,” i. e., grace conferred or “found?” A Pope has said that Mary is the mother and fountain of all grace and our only hope of salvation. —B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation Of The English Bible, Vol. X, pp. 81-82.
This whole system of Mariolatry is one of blasphemy and much of it was taken from the ancient Babylonian false doctrine that glorified Nimrod and his mother, as has been so ably shown by Alexander Hislop in His “Two Babylons.” In the course of our study of Mary she will, by her own words, refute many of those dogmas that are held by this heretical system.
Mary was a most common name among Jewish women, being the same as the sister of Moses and Aaron, for the Greek text sometimes reads Miriam, especially in Luke’s Gospel and in Acts. There were at least seven women by this name in the New Testament. (1) Mary the mother of Jesus. (2) Mary Magdalene. (3) Mary the wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John. (4) Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. (5) Mary the wife of Cleopas, who was also sister to Mary the mother of Jesus. (6) Mary the mother of John Mark. (7) Mary a member of one of the churches in Rome.
The virgin birth—i. e., conception and birth wholly apart from the agency of a human male—was absolutely necessary to prevent Jesus’ human nature from being sinful. In the beginning, God constituted man the head of the race, and made him representative of all his descendents. All mankind was in the first man seminally, and when Adam sinned, they all became sinful, (Rom. 5:12), and so, a sinful nature is passed from father to child forever afterward. In being born of a virgin mother, Jesus received a human nature, yet one that was “holy,” (v. 35), and without sin. In no other way could a perfectly holy human nature have been produced. And this was the subject of prophecy, (Isa. 7:14; Jer. 31:22). Liberal theologians ridicule this as “impossible,” “irrational,” etc., but they display their ignorance, for the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 clearly shows that this was never intended to be an ordinary birth, but rather it was to be something significant—a “sign.” And the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:22 shows that this would involve a creative act by God Himself for a woman to somehow “compass” or encompass a man child in some mysterious way. Mary herself was mystified over how this could be, seeing that she was a virgin that had never known a man in a sexual sense. But Gabriel explains that this was to be accomplished by the Holy Spirit as He created within her this human nature. In Hebrews 10:5 the Lord Himself explains it. “A body hast thou prepared me.” This was the purpose of the virgin birth to this young teenager.
There are two genealogies listed in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 and this has caused liberals to account error to the Scriptures, since they say that these “cannot be reconciled.” Friends do not need to be reconciled, for these are not antagonistic to one another. It is to be granted that these two vary considerably in some places, but there is a reason for this: one is the genealogy of Joseph (the legal father of Jesus) through Solomon, while the other is the genealogy of Mary (the actual mother of Jesus’ human nature) through Nathan. “Son of Heli” in Luke 3:23 is to be taken in the sense of “son-in-law of Heli, and it is instructive to read that some Jewish genealogies list what is believed to be the mother of Jesus as being “the daughter of Eli” (same as Heli). The Jews were very scrupulous in their genealogy records, and so, Jesus’ genealogy has never been questioned by Jews.
That this is thoroughly reliable is manifest, both because these catalogues would not have been published at a time when, if inaccurate, they could easily have been refuted by reference to well-known family and public registers. And because there is not a particle of evidence that they were ever questioned, much less invalidated. —David Brown, in Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, A Commentary Critical, Experimental and Practical On The Old And New Testaments, Vol. 5, p. 2.
Without such genealogies few if any of the Jews would have accepted Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah. John Gill quotes Jews that speak to this very issue about the coming of the Shekinah (the Messiah) into a human nature, that it would be proven by genealogies. Hence we read of no challenges of His genealogical fitness to be Messiah.
Mary is thought to have been only in her teens when Gabriel tells her what is ahead of her, and yet she is already a child of God and a faithful servant to God. Her own words testify to this fact, so that both she and Joseph are to be admired for their faith in the Lord. It is phenomenal to find people this young that are this dedicated to the Lord, but then God had been preparing her for her destiny for some time. Mary’s faithfulness to the Lord is first to be seen in that, as soon as the angel explains that her pregnancy is to come about by Divine power, and not by ordinary means, she immediately submits to the will of the Lord, (v. 38). “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Such a submissive attitude can only be found in those that are born again, and who are resting upon the omnipotence of the Lord. And this had come about because “thou hast found favor with God,” (v. 30). To “find favor,” or “to find grace,” which are the same things, is often used in the sense of having been brought into a saving relationship with God, as we see in many places in Scripture, (Gen. 6:8; 19:19; Ex. 33:12; Acts 7:46), et al.
And her faith in God and in the message that the angel brings to her is rewarded by a confirmatory sign, (v. 36). This announcement of the miraculous conception of Elisabeth did not produce this faith in Mary for no miracle can produce faith, but it can confirm an already existing faith and so it did here. Faith is only produced by the Word of God, (Acts 17:11-12; Rom. 10:17). Mary’s faith was in contrast to Zacharias’ unbelief.
This is all confirmed by Mary herself in her testimony to Elisabeth in (vv. 46-47). “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Immaculately conceived people do not need a Savior—only sinners do—so that here Mary, by the appropriating pronoun “my,” acknowledges that sometime in the past she had received God as her Savior. Elisabeth recognized that her cousin was a believer in God by her words in (v. 45) and pronounces a blessing on her. “And blessed is she which hath believed that there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord, and which stands on record” (literal reading of the inspired Greek text—“told” is perfect passive participle). Mary’s blessedness consisted, not in her being henceforth a saviour, but in being chosen to be the mother of the human nature of Him that was to save all those given to Him to save by the Father.
After three months, and apparently just before Elisabeth was to deliver her child Mary returns home to Nazareth to deal with the problem of telling Joseph of her pregnancy. Can you imagine the shock to this young engaged man when his betrothed returns from a three months visit with a cousin in the Hill Country and she is three months pregnant and he knows that it cannot be his? This is set forth in Matthew 1:18-25 where he first has in mind to privately divorce her for unfaithfulness. No doubt Mary had told him what had been revealed to her by the angel, but who could believe such a wild story as that? He could have called for her public stoning, but he did not want to make her a public example for he loved her and was a pitiful man. O the heartbreak that he must have felt during this time. While he thinks on this an angel appears to him in a dream and explains all that is involved in this—that Mary has not been promiscuous, but is rather the Divinely chosen instrument for the glorious incarnation of the Son of God. It took a lot of faith on his part, just as it took a lot of faith on Mary’s part, to agree to such a radical situation.
The angel cites Isaih 7:14 as fulfilled in this matter, showing that this One was to be “Emmanuel”—God with us—and was also to be named Jesus, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua or more fully Jehoshua, which means God is my Savior. Thus, Emmanuel describes His Person, while Jesus describes His work.
The Jews had God with them, in types and shadows, dwelling between the cherubim; but never so as when the Word was made flesh—that was the blessed Shechinah. By the light of nature, we see God as a God above us; by the light of the law, we see Him as a God against us; but by the light of the gospel, we see Him as Immanuel, God with us, in our own nature, and in our interest. —Matthew Henry, Commentary On The Bible, on Matthew 1:23.
This settles the matter for Joseph and he immediately takes Mary into his home and under his protection although the marriage was not consummated until after the birth of Jesus. Though they were espoused before, and that constituted marriage in the eyes of the Law, Joseph and Mary had not yet been living in cohabitation up to this point, which is what constitutes actual marriage, (Gen. 24:67; 1 Cor. 6:15-16). But now she has the protection of Joseph’s name as well as his care and provision.
Catholics hold to the heresy of “the perpetual virginity of Mary” in their endeavor to justify their worship of Mary, and they try to explain away the “brethren and sisters of Jesus,” (Matt. 12:46-47; 13:55-56) as either Jesus’ cousins, or the older children of Joseph by a previous marriage. None of this is true, and that Joseph and Marry had a normal marital relation after Jesus’ birth is proven by several things. (1) By the statement “before they came together,” (v. 18), which is a Biblical term for intercourse between husbands and wives, (1 Cor. 7:5). (2) By the fact that Jesus is referred to as Mary’s “firstborn” (which often implies others). (3) By the fact that Joseph is said to not have “known” Mary “till she had brought forth her firstborn son.” (4) By the fact that these are specifically named, which cousins or step-siblings would not likely have been. (5) And prophecy proves beyond any doubt that Mary had other children, for Psalm 69:9 is quoted in John 2:17 as being fulfilled in Jesus, yet in the immediately preceding verse Jesus says prophetically, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.” This is biblical parallelism, a common usage where two parallel statements explain one another. Thus, “my brethren,” the very word used in Matthew 12:46-47 and 13:55, is explained to be “my mother’s children,” not my cousins or my step-brothers or any other relationship. Alas, how false doctrine and especially idolatry will try to pervert clear Scripture.
When the time came for the Son of God to be born into a human nature, God used the whim of a mighty king to fulfill the details. “Decree” in Luke 2:1 means literally “an opinion,” so that it was a mere whim of Caesar Augustus that brought Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to the place where prophecy had foretold the birth was to be of Him “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (Micah 5:2). On a map it looks to be between eighty and one hundred miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah, so that this was a rather arduous journey for a woman in her last stages of pregnancy, especially if they had to walk all the way. O Yes! Though artists generally picture Mary sitting on an ass as they travel, Scripture is silent as to whether she had this option as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Upon their arrival and finding no room in the inn they are put up in a cave that served as a stable as caves often did, which was probably quieter and more private than a crowded and noisy inn would have been, and here Mary brings forth her firstborn. From the silence of Scripture about any midwife or other helper, some have concluded that Mary delivered her Son with no assistance except that of her husband, and Scripture does say that it was she that wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes, (v. 7).
Following this there was the visit of the shepherds, then later the visit of the Magi from the East which gave expensive gifts that would enable the holy family to flee into Egypt as commanded. However, there was almost six weeks that elapsed before this flight, for it was on the eighth day after birth that Jesus was circumcised, and then the Law had commanded that forty days after birth a son was to be presented to the Lord in the temple, (Lev. 12:1-7). It was after this that Joseph had the dream in which he was commanded to take the family and flee into Egypt, (Matt. 2:13-23).
From this time mark Scripture is silent for the next twelve years about Joseph and Mary and their family At this time we have the visit of Joseph’s family to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, which was their annual practice, (Luke 2:40-52). After this we have another eighteen years of silence until both John the Baptist and his Lord make their official entry into public life, (Matt. 3:1ff; Mark 1: lff; Luke 3:1ff; John 1:6ff), for thirty years of age was the tradition time for Jewish men to enter public life.
Mary is with Jesus and His disciples at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, but no mention is made of Joseph, which makes us wonder if he was now dead, (John 2:1ff). And verse 12 reveals that Mary sometimes accompanied Jesus and His disciples in their travels. Here we see a most interesting fact. Catholics make much of Mary’s supposed intercessions with Jesus, but here was the only time she ever interceded with Him, and He rebuked her for it, (John 2:3-4). What she did say to all of the servants should be heeded by every Catholic, yet none do so. She told them to obey whatever Jesus said to them, not to slip around and try to get His mother to influence His decision. This attitude is a slander of Jesus, as if He were harder hearted than Mary.
The next to the last mention of the mother of Jesus is found in John 19:25-27 as she stood at the foot of the cross and saw her beloved Son suffer for the sins of His chosen people. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus there saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” The great heartbreak that Mary here felt at seeing the intense suffering of her Son, and in knowing that He was shortly to die, fulfilled the prophecy of ancient Simeon that had been spoken some thirty-three years before, (Luke 2:34-35). “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
As the ultimately righteous Man who must be a dutiful son in order to be in the will of God, Jesus here in His most intense agony honors His human mother as He had as a child, (Luke 2:51-52). It has been wondered why Jesus did this instead of leaving Mary to the care of her other children. Catholics have tried to use this as a proof that she had no other children, in order to help establish The perpetual virginity of Mary, but they hold this contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture that we have already noted. Several reasons enter into this commitment of Mary to John’s care. (1) Her other sons were not saved at this time, and had no sympathy with Jesus’ work, (Ps. 69:8; John 7:5). (2) They were all younger than Jesus, most being under thirty years of age, and so, according to Jewish reckoning, not yet mature. (3) They were very poor as Jesus had always been, (Matt. 8:20). (4) John was the wealthiest of all the disciples, being part owner with his brother James and their father, Zebedee, in a fishing business that employed several others, and so he would have been well able to care for her. (5) John’s own mother was a relative, and so, there was already a close relationship between them. (6) John was the closest in affection both to Jesus and to Mary.
Subsequently Mary is not seen except in Acts 1:13-14 where she and her other sons meet with the church in its first business meeting after Jesus’ return to glory. But nowhere in all of this does she exercise any influence whatsoever on policy or on practice and it is presumptuous to think so. Catholics, in their endeavor to justify their idolatrous worship of Mary, pretend that all the apostles were in a state of total confusion until Mary took charge and directed them. There is not a word of truth in that. It only shows the lengths to which false doctrine will go to establish itself.
Ere concluding this study on this woman that was blessed above all other women in being privileged to obtain the “desire of [Jewish] women,”—to be the mother of the Messiah’s human nature, (Dan. 11:37), it might be well to note her deep spirituality. This is seen in her first appearance in Scripture in Luke 1 as just a teenager. In her own words, and in those of her cousin, Elizabeth, there is testified: (1) Her morality, (v. 34). (2) Her native sinfulness, (vv. 47-48). (3) Her salvation, (v. 47). (4) Her submission to God’s will, (v. 38). (5) Her fear of God, (v. 50). (6) Her giving of all glory to God, (v. 46). (7) Her knowledge of God’s holiness, (v. 49). (8) Her recognition of God’s mercy (the counterpart of grace), (v. 50). (9) Her faith in God as testified by Elisabeth, (v. 45). (10) Her recognition of her blessedness in being chosen to bear the Messiah’s human nature was testified of and she realized this, (vv. 42, 48). (11) God’s sovereign rule over men, (vv. 51-52). (12) God’s revelation to Israel, (vv. 54-55). What a phenomenal woman, yet none of it was of herself, but was all as a direct result of God’s grace extended to her.
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