Author: Ron Graham

Man Woman

Mary, Mother of Jesus
—A virtuous woman

A lesson about Mary the mother of Christ. We consider how Mary was a virtuous woman, a victim of the law, and has been venerated through the centuries.

1 A Virtuous Woman

A blessed virgin. King Lemuel was taught wisdom by his mother. Her oracle asks, "Who can find a virtuous woman?" (Prov 31:1,10). Well, virtuous women do exist, and Mary the mother of Jesus was one. The Bible tells us one important way in which she she showed virtue: her virginity. Mary is described as "a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph" (Luke 1:26-27). An angel appeared to her and said, "Hail, Mary! You have found favor with God." (Luke 1:28,30).

Choosing chastity. In Mary’s time, as in ours, virginity and chastity were not much respected, except among a minority of devout and religious people. Mary didn't run with the majority. She was a virgin by conviction; not because no man wanted her. She believed in remaining a virgin until she married a man, and then keeping herself only for him while they both lived. When she became a mother, it would not be through intercourse with any man other than her husband. Was Mary wise or foolish? Many people see no value, and possibly even detriment, in such an undertaking. Good motherhood, they think, is not served by chastity.

Preserving genealogy. The prophecies had said that Christ would be the Son or descendant of David (Psalms 89:3-4). It was critical therefore that through the generations the genealogy be preserved. But this has a wider application than just to Mary and her ancestors. In a promiscuous society, it is likely that children will be born who will have no knowledge of who their fathers or grandparents were; and many men will not know the children they have sired.

Mary lived righteously. Mary, the mother of Jesus, sets a standard of virtue for women and men today. Mary encourages people to preserve, by chastity, the integrity of marriage, motherhood, and family.


2 A Victim of the Law

The weeping mother. Mary was an innocent victim of corruption in high places. She had to flee to Egypt with her son to escape King Herod’s shocking massacre of infants (Matthew 2) which left many mothers distraught and weeping. Later, Mary had to stand by and watch the Romans nail her son to the cross. Motherhood has its sweetness, but it also has its sorrows (Matthew 19:25-27).

When the law is cruel. How many mothers have had their children taken away by force? Oh so very many. War has robbed many a mother of a son or daughter. But the conquerers have often mistreated mothers and their children. Take for example the “stolen generation” in Australia who were unjustly taken by force from their mothers causing grief that is felt deeply to this day.

Mary endured faithfully. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a hero of history with whom mothers, and others, who have suffered wrong can identify, and from whom they can draw courage.


3 Venerated through the Centuries

A unique woman Mary has been venerated for 2000 years, recognized as a unique woman because she was the mother of God’s Son. "Mary, you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus... The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:30-35).

Revering Mary The veneration of Mary went beyond what is proper, to the point where she is worshiped, and people pray to her. This however does not alter the fact that we should hold Mary in high regard as indeed God himself did. We should even be awe-struck as we consider her election and blessedness. Arguably there is no human being of higher honor than Mary, except for the Son she bore and nurtured.

A lesson from Mary Mary’s experience with God shows us that God holds human beings in high esteem and does not consider them worms, inherently corrupt. "What is man (male and female) that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you are concerned about him? You made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honour..." (Genesis 1:27, Psalms 8:4-5, Hebrews 2:5-6-7). This crowning is the intended destiny of all men and women, if they will accept it. Mary’s Son has already received it (Acts 2:32-33, Philippians 2:9). But it's open to all, because "in every nation, the one who fears God, and does what is right, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:35).

What Mary epitomises. God loves us and desires fellowship with us in glory. That's why he chose Mary to be the mother of his unique Son, so that through him, the Beloved, we may be made acceptable to God (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). Ephesians chapter 1 is the magnificent charter of God’s intention to bless and honor human beings. Of this Mary is the perfect example, and her Son is the means.

Surrender. Underlying this is Mary’s willingness to fully surrender herself to God. "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:30). Her Son Jesus also surrendered himself completely to God. "Not my will, but your will be done" (Luke 22:42). The principle is that nobody is exalted by God who does not surrender all to the will of God and let him take control.

Mary surrendered fully to God. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is an outstanding figure among the blessed and chosen of God, highly respected because she, like her Son, was willing to surrender herself fully to God’s will.