What does the Bible tell us about Mary the mother of Jesus?

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Mary was a descendant of the house of David (Acts 2:30; 3:23), for it was through her alone that Jesus could literally be “the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). She was highly favored of the Lord and blessed among women (Luke 1:28, 42). God chose her because she was chaste and pure. She was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25, 38; Mark 15:43). She spent her early life in Nazareth (Luke 1:26). She had a kinswoman, Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias (Luke 1:36) and also had relatives in Cana, a village near Nazareth (John 2:1, 5).

When the angel Gabriel declared to her that she would give birth to a son who would be the Savior through the Holy Spirit, Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant… May your word to me be fulfilled. Then the angel left her” (Luke 1:38). She immediately accepted her calling despite the implications that came with it, being pregnant and not married. In middle eastern culture today, and more so at that time, she received persecution for being pregnant and not married.

Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Luke 1:34–38), but she didn’t continue in that condition. For the Bible declares of Joseph, “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25). The word ‘until’ shows that Joseph and Mary had normal sexual relations after Jesus was born. Jesus had four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55); and He also had half-sisters (Matthew 13:55–56).

All have sinned (Romans 3:23), and this includes Mary (Romans 6:23; 1 John 1:8). Mary herself declared that God is her Savior, “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–49). Therefore, Mary should be respected, but not worshiped or adored. For Jesus is our only advocate and mediator in heaven (1 Timothy 2:5).

When Jesus was a baby, Joseph and Mary presented Him at the temple and Simon prophesied to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34–35). At twelve years old, Jesus went to the temple with his parents but remained behind at Jerusalem. After three days of searching for him, Mary and Joseph found Him at the temple. When asked why He hadn’t gone home with them, His response was that He should be doing His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). And Jesus returned and was subject to His parents and Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

At the beginning of Jesus ministry, Mary requested His help at the wedding of Cana. Jesus honored her by performing His first miracle and turned water into grape juice/wine (John 2:1–11). On one occasion a woman said, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed” to which Jesus answered, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:27, 28).

The prophecy of Simon that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart was fulfilled when she witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:25). Understanding her pain, Jesus asked John the beloved to take care of her (John 19:26–27). The last mention of Mary is found in Acts 1:14 as she continued with the disciples in prayer and supplication for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Bible doesn’t state that Mary ascended to heaven.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

 

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