Mary, the Mother of Jesus – 10 Key Points for Bible Study

1.  Her name may mean “Bitterness.” (4, pg. 158)

2.  It is impossible to write a historical sketch of Mary’s life, so inadequate are the data in the gospels and so unreliable are the traditions of the church.  Such data as we have are contained in stories whose purpose is not historical narration but theological affirmation:  they declare that God has come to man in a child born of a virgin,  that he may redeem them from sin and death and lead them into his blessed kingdom.  Mary is depicted as the instrument of God’s gracious purpose (the ” handmaid of the Lord.” Luke 1:38.) (1, pg. 290)

3.  Family Background.  We know very little concerning Mary’s background.  She was a devout Jewess, apparently living in Nazareth at the time when she conceived.  Since both genealogies (Matt. 1:2-16; Luke 3:23-28) are Joseph’s, we do not know whether she belonged to the Davidic line, though the angel’s words in Luke 1:32 would at least imply that the early church believed that she was so descended. (1, pg. 290)

4. Virginal Conception.  At the time when she conceived, she was betrothed to Joseph,  who is said to have been “of the house of David” (Luke 1:27 and the genealogies ).  He is described in Matthew (1:18 -25) as a God-fearing, law-abiding man, of considerable nature.  Since betrothal in Judaism was tantamount to marriage, except for residence in the bridegroom’s home. (same pg. 290)  Mary’s pregnancy was at first a shock to Joseph.  How could this condition have occurred except by an adulterous act?  The stories in both Matthew and Luke explain the pregnancy as due to the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35),  the purpose of God being to raise up for His people a divine Savior (“Emanuel” Matthew 1:23); “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32), who ” will reign over the house of Jacob for ever (Luke 1:33).  Joseph’s fears were allayed by the assurances of an angel, and he is said to have proceeded with his plans with respect to Mary.  (1, pg. 290)

5.  The Birth of Jesus Foretold:

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.”Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. (Luke 1:26-30)

6.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

7.  And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me holy is his name. ( Luke 1: 46-49)

8. The Visit of the Magi

After they heard the king, and his disciples, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped 0ver the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with the gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (Matthew 2:9-10)

9.  Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his  mother’s sister, Mary the wife of  Clopas and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw the mother there and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:25-27)

10.  By the time Mary opened her eyes opened her eyes, the setting sun had turned the city into a golden land.  She smiled, wiping the tears from her wrinkled face.  How true the angel’s words had been.  No woman from Eve onward had ever been blessed as she, the mother of the Messiah had been.  Yes, the past was alive inside her, but it was the future that filled her with joy.  Soon she would see her son again and this time it would be his hands that would wipe away the last of her tears. (3, page 295)

1. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volume Three K-Q, In Four Volumes, Abingdon Press, New York 1962.

2. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995. (All Scriptures)

3. Women of the Bible,  One Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture, Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan, 2007.

4. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999.

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