Mary, the mother of Christ is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or LDS. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.
Here is Part II of her story:
Unique among Women
Many are the unique experiences and qualities of Mary that extend beyond the obvious, i.e., the mother of the Messiah. Most notably, she was the only eyewitness of the Savior throughout his mortal life. In so doing, she obtained a testimony of the Lord’s divinity as well as his mortal mission on a very personal level… one which I’m sure that she shared with John the Beloved after he (John) took her into his home as his mother 1.
John’s testimony of Christ has a distinctive flavor that includes aspects and details missing in the other gospels. For example, in the three other gospels a clear separation exists between man and Yahweh …a continuation of Old Testament statutes. However, in John’s Gospel we see the clear joining of man and God as one in purpose. 2 We also see details about the Savior’s life not present in other records, e.g., the wedding at Cana.
Some of the above may result from his longevity and opportunity to progress in mortality. Others I suspect are a result of his care — assignment if you will — of Mary to himself. The presumption has always been that the Savior was commending his mother to John’s care. But perhaps, the Lord was also saying, ‘John, here is your mother… learn from her for she has much to share.’
The Gospel of John tells us that from that day forward, John took her into his own home. And, from then on, John who loved the Savior greatly would have much opportunity to talk with Mary about the Savior and his life.
John under went quite a transformation from a son of Thunder to a John the beloved filled with charity. The Book of Revelation is stark and quite a contrast from the Gospel of John and letters attributed to him. Although we digress but I do suspect that his association with Mary, select above all other women, had a marked impact across the years on the Lord’s beloved apostle. JMO
Parenting doesn’t stop at age 18, 21, or ?? but is a life long role. In Mary we see the impact and a mother’s love that extends throughout the Lord’s life. Anything we can learn here-in?
If you had the opportunity to speak with Mary, what two things would you really like to know about the Savior’s life?
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 1 Luke 47-48
Mary, the mother of Christ is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or Latter Day Saint. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.
Here are just a few things gleamed from her story:
… A Beehive in Israel
Young women ages 12-17 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are organized into three distinct groups: Beehives (ages 12-13), Mia Maids (14-15), and Laurels (16-18). Why the distinction? The person that we call Mary was little more than a Beehive when she learned that she was to give birth to the Savior.
We are not talking about a Mia Maid, Laurel, or even a young woman just graduating from high school … but a Beehive. (Interestingly, a 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith was similarly entrusted with a great mission.)
During that period women in Judea were typically betrothed at age 12, married at age 13 1, i.e., the age of a Beehive. The perspective helps us appreciate in some small way the esteem to which Mary must have been held, her very character, & integrity. She was selected as a young woman of Beehive age, above all other women ever born, for this important event. For all the credit Eve may have ever received as being the ‘first,’ her mission would never carry with it the weight that Mary’s would.
It also reminds us of the respect that we should treat all youth with — for in those Young Women lay the mother of the Savior, in another perhaps a potential prophet, or maybe a wonderful companion. I remember well the harsh words of a self important high priest as he bragged how he put a young lady in her place. I wonder if he would feel the same if it had been Mary that he spoke with?
Challenges of ancient Judea
Challenges: those of youth, the role of women in ancient Judea (read that near slavery), no elementary school with free lunches, etc. But for whatever she endured, she rose above all of the injustice/embarrassment including the appearance of having a child while unmarried, being completely vulnerable to an unmerciful system in which women who committed adultery could be executed, sold as slaves, …along with the day to day hardships of disease, wars, invading Romans (OK, occupying Romans), and periodic famine/food shortages.
No, she rose above her surroundings and while I wasn’t physically present, the descriptions of her all recount a person of quiet dignity. Her response to a 12 year old in the temple, the wedding feast in Cana, all testify of divine attributes — a woman of virtue who knew no guile, a vessel that could bear and teach the Lord that which he would need to know.
Although the Savior was taught from on high in ways that are not yet revealed we also can be sure that a mother’s care was just as relevant then as perhaps it is today. The hours spent as a toddler at her side, as a ‘elementary age’ youth, trained and able to read and write scripture to the point of astonishing the Priests.
It’s not surprising that the Lord could read and write, and probably learned this either from his parents or from Mary’s cousins Elizabeth & Zechariah. The latter, Zachariah, as a Priest would certainly have known how to write and quite probably had a role in training the Messiah. (Everything within me tells me that John & Jesus knew each other long before his baptism.)
Although we may be getting a little ahead of our story, five character traits of Mary do stand out — ones that she displayed through out her life:
Courage both physical and moral. No record exists of her ever denying her role as mother of Christ, even while standing by (at a distance) during the Crucifixion, etc
Patience and endurance to travel to Bethlehem, pack it up to go to Egypt, and the most difficult — to endure the murder of her first born.
Faith almost beyond compare to have entertained angels and heavenly messengers
Profound wisdom to raise the Son of the Most High God, to have him at her side in his youth, to love him without guile, and to let him grow into that which he was.
Understanding to live a life time of middle class (carpenters were mc), yet humble in the knowledge of her divine role.
Few things give greater insight into the Savior, & who he was, than his relationship with others, especially women and children. With Christmas approaching, we are focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary is unique among all women in her divine role in giving birth to the Messiah. Her story is fascinating, regardless of whether we are Catholic, Muslim, or Later Day Saints. And yet, for the countless pages that have been written about her, we still know so little about Mary, the person, & Mary, the Mother of God.
Here are 4 videos that provide some insight into this great woman and the birth of the Savior:
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
The Video, produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, reflects the quiet devotion and strength of Mary. Worth viewing. 2:21
An Angel Foretells Christ’s Birth to Mary
The angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to announce the coming of Jesus. See Luke 1:26-38
Another video well worth viewing. Video time: 4:08
Mary and Elisabeth Rejoice Together
Mary visits her relative Elizabeth who both rejoice in the coming birth. See Luke 1:39-55
Video time: 5:07
Mary and Joseph Travel to Bethlehem
Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem where they cannot find a place to stay at an inn. Instead they find room only in a stable…. See Luke 2:4-7 Video time: 2:06
We often hear about Mary – the mother of the Savior, Mary Magdalene, Eve, and even the woman at the well as great teaching moments. But just as important are those lessons encapsulated in some very short passages. Three of my favorite are those below:
A touch of a robe, the gift of the Master
Many have exercised great faith, including a passing woman who needed only to touch the hem of his robe.
Healed by a touch is a woman whose faith was so great that she needed no fanfare or great declaration to be healed of her infirmity. No, she needed only to touch the hem of the Master’s robe to be healed.
He noticed immediately that virtue had gone forth, and commended her by acknowledging simply ‘who has touched my robe’. Of course he knew but wanted us to know of the great faith found in her humble touch.
So what’s so special — the ease of what was required, to be willing to reach out to the Savior such that even a slight touch was sufficient. The story reminds me of the many who perished in ancient Israel who were not willing to lift their eyes to the serpent — the smallest of gestures, the slightest of faith, the beginning of a mustard seed — to be healed.
Hidden in a coin
Was it a coin that she sought? Or, was it the child who was wayward?
Hidden in a coin was the mother who looked for the lost coin among the ten that she had. The coin that was lost? Not an old coin, but something far more valuable …a loved son or daughter in need.
Ever wonder why the Lord spoke of the 99 sheep, but of the 10 that belonged to the mother? It was her family, and he spoke of a mother’s love to find a cherished child.
Offerings of the Heart
Priests, Levites, the rich & powerful, all upstaged by a widow and her mite…
Hidden in a coin was the mother we talked about above. Hidden in the widow’s mite is the requirement for eternal life… the willingness to give all that we have.
Her story is short, only a few lines. But for any, and all serious about gaining eternal salvation, is the hidden path. Simple, but perplexing enough that it escaped Nicodemus.
Jesus Teaches about the Widow’s Mites
The Video, produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, reflects the true worship of one who had little by way of earthly possessions but possessed great riches in heaven. 0:59
Gospel of Mary, discovered in 1896. P. Oxyrhynchus L 3525, Papyrology Room, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Mary Magdalene appears to the immediate left in De Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ …an artist’s conception or divine inspiration?
Mary Magdalene, companion & disciple of Jesus, was trusted and greatly loved by the Lord. At the tomb her sorrow and desire to know where they had taken her Lord turned to joy on hearing one word ‘Mary’. It was enough for she knew the Master’s voice, and immediately responded ‘Rabboni’ (Master) 1.
The parting of the sea in the movie The Ten Commandments reminds us of heaven’s great power. Mary’s humble request to know where they have taken her Lord melts the heart with her love and devotion.
So why has Mary Magdalene captured the interest & attention of so many …beyond that of the popular novel and movies? Her addition to the last supper (perhaps speculation) occurred well before the birth of any 20th century author. Although the codex Gospel of Mary was discovered circa 1896 2, translations weren’t widely available until more recently (read that internet). And yet, we wonder about her role.
The answer may be more simple than we realize — she is a profound example of Heavenly Father’s plan and truth restored. In great contrast, the adversary would cloud, degrade, and deny the role & divine nature of women — as companion, mothers, and disciples. Mary’s story reveals a quiet strength and life filled with love and virtue that honors all women.
During that era, an evolution in the Judeo/Christian view of women is evident — from Pre-Christ roles (chattel/property), to more prominent roles found in the New Testament, & then the gradual diminishing role/discipleship with the rise of a male priesthood in the early church (especially post 300 AD) — male egos at work? Maybe…
Whatever the case, each sees with eyes quite different than their neighbor’s. For example, one may see an architectural perfect 1963ish Vet, another will pop the hood to see that engine, or perhaps in the case of a few of female friends — just a bunch of old, pudgy guys with thinning hair trying to drive around looking cool.
In Mary’s case, what I see:
a wonderful friend/companion to the Lord,
a person whose personality shines through… even though very little is written directly in the scripture,
fearless at times & unashamed at the events of the crucifixion and burial,
faithful in continuing her discipleship after the acension,
and humble, very humble and sincere in her attitudes and reverence for God, the Father, and all that he created.
What could I learn from Mary’s devotion that would help me in my progression as a Christian?
What else do you see in the life of Mary that really stands out… as disciple, woman, or as an example?
The Video, produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, depicts the resurrection & meeting of Jesus with Mary, Magdalene. 4:01
[1} See John 20: 11-18. Mary’s response to refer to the Savior as Rabboni represents her reverence and silent love for the Master..
Many have traveled along lonely paths carrying heavy burdens, hoping for relief. The woman at the well illustrates God’s love for his children in sending Jesus to teach and heal a beloved daughter.
The woman at the well is one of my favorite biblical stories. And, for many years I didn’t really know why, just that it was very touching. Often I heard suggestions that this Samaritan woman who had five husbands was quite promiscuous, unworthy by every measure. Yet intuition said otherwise. Why would the Savior travel so far out of his way to meet with the ‘one’, and how could she be so unworthy yet spiritually in tune enough to eventually recognize that she spoke with a prophet?
Much of her reputation may stem from comments that can be interpreted quite differently. The most often cited is a single line where the Savior declares that she has had five husbands and lives unmarried with another.
The assumption is that she has broken her marriage vows and deserted each eventually to live with a man to whom she was not married. Unfortunately, the latter especially conveys a promiscuous image.
The second hint at unworthiness came from her not going with the village women to the well in the morning but rather during the heat of the sun — a time when others would not be around. The well that she used was further away than those closer to the village, again allowing her to avoid contact with others.
So why did the Savior select the Samaritan woman to convey such a powerful message of God’s love? Was it to soften and prepare the way for the gospel to be carried throughout the world?
Or was it more personal in that she was the ‘1’ separated from the ‘99’ and needed encouragement? She clearly loved God for within her was a spirit that recognized and cherished the Messiah, rejoicing greatly in the knowledge.
Divorce in Judea
In her day divorce was simple, and could be done for almost any reason. She simply had to be given a writ of divorce and her clothes and belongings set outside. The Talmud allowed a man to divorce a woman “because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman’s consent to the divorce is not required”. The 19th chapter of Mathew reinforces the ease of divorce that then prevailed: “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matthew 19:3).
Jewish law suggests that it was the woman who was abused for only men could initiate divorce and not women. As for her living with another man, she may have been a live-in cook of sorts. Custom may not have accepted a woman living alone.
We can also conclude that was she was not wealthy — women of wealth did not draw their own water. Yet she was willing to share that which she had with a stranger. And in turn, she too desired deeply to drink of the water that he freely brought to all on earth that would receive it.
His conversation with her is among the longest recorded in the New Testament. Her spirituality was keen enough to recognize that she stood with a prophet while her detractors — those whom she may have avoided by drawing water at noon — did not.
The Savior’s deep respect for women is well illustrated in his reaction to the Samaritan woman. In that season men did not speak to women publically although Jesus often did so. He had great reason to shun this woman for she not only was a Samaritan but a virtual outcast from her own people.
In short she was an outcast among the outcast — a contest that I wouldn’t want to win. But his conversation with her became symbolic of his great love.
She came to draw water from Jacob’s well at noon seeking only to quietly fill her vessel from the well. Afterwards, she left filled with joy and declared that she had found the Messiah.
At the well, the Good Shepherd left the 99 (he sent his apostles & disciples on ahead into Jericho) that he could tend to the one. Ever wonder how he knew that the one was in need, and that she would be at the well? The answer lies in the same as how he knew the fish contained the coin that would pay his taxes.
He left the 99 to search her out, specifically, not by chance, that he might tend to her wounds that she as you and I might always know of his great love.
A lesson learned
Ahhh, but the story’s not over, not quite. The Samaritan woman displayed considerable knowledge in the questions and comments that she posed of the Savior. She was not ignorant by any means but was earnestly seeking the truth, her heart was prepared and ready.
As Paul Harvey often related on his radio broadcasts, ‘And now for the rest of the story…’ the ‘one’ on hearing his message then turned to help convert many of the ’99’. The Samaritans saw no mighty miracle by mortal standards but the miracle of the heart swayed by a Savior’s love:
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
41 And many more believed because of his own word;
42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. …
The video, produced by the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is from Mormon Messages… 3:56
What is the real lesson(s) behind the Samaritan woman at the well?
Many in Jesus day expected a temporal Messiah, a king after the mold of King David. Instead, the Messiah was born in a manger, openly walked / talked with women, and related some of his most profound teachings through their greatest (or most disdained): the Samaritans? Why?