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She is a woman admired for her bravery and loved for her devotion to God. She walked a difficult path, knowing how costly her submission would be. The virgin birth of her son Jesus defied scientific logic. Mary is recognized most as the mother to God’s only Son. But how much do we know about the details of her life?
God chose Mary for what could be arguably the most important job in history – bringing our Savior Jesus Christ into the world. She was the perfect unlikely choice, which made her story even more remarkable.
We know the angel Gabriel visited Mary to bring her the news of God’s plan. She would give birth, even though she wasn’t married yet (Luke 1:35 NLT). At that time, Joseph had already asked Mary to be his wife. But the two would soon embark on a life-changing journey.
There is so much we can learn from Mary’s walk of obedience. And there’s more to her story than you may have noticed before. Here are three things you probably didn’t know about Mary in the Bible.
1. Mary was the only person to be present with Jesus at his birth and his earthly death.
Thinking about the Christmas Story takes me back to my childhood memories of Sunday school. I listened to the teacher tell about the stable, swaddling clothes, and the manger filled with hay. We added each piece to a plastic nativity scene as the story unfolded: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, animals, and shepherds – in that order.
Joseph stayed by Mary’s side through that uncertain time. They both witnessed Jesus’ first breath on this earth. Soon shepherds came to join them and see what the angels told them about. (Luke 2:15-16) But did you know Mary was also present as Jesus took his last breath on earth?
“Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).
Mary comforted Jesus as He entered this world, and also as He left it to return to the Father. She devoted herself to being there for her son – through birth, death, and beyond.
2. Mary knew Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah.
This young girl showed unequalled bravery when she accepted the angel’s message by saying, “… may it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). But did she understand what she was agreeing to?
In Mary’s famous song of praise, we find evidence that Mary knew the Old Testament teachings. As a Jew, she had been learning about biblical prophecy her entire life. Her song also bears a striking resemblance to Hannah’s famous prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Now, she would become part of the fulfillment of God’s ultimate plan.
“He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever” (Luke 1:54-55).
Mary understood the magnitude of her decision to say yes when God chose her. Her knowledge of God’s promise to send a Savior for His people showed through her worship.
3. Mary had four other sons after Jesus.
Jesus faced constant opposition during His ministry on earth. During one such time, a group of sceptics mentioned Jesus’ family members.
“Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.’ They were deeply offended and refused to believe him” (Mark 6:3).
From this passage we discover Jesus had four brothers and more than one sister, though his sisters are not named. We do not know how many sisters he had, but these unbelievers used this information against Him. They wanted to convince themselves and others that Jesus must have been just another man from Nazareth. But their cynicism couldn’t distract Jesus from His purpose.
Mary shines as a symbol of God’s desire to use the obscure and the ordinary. What encouragement from this simple peasant girl who now stands as one of the most loved women of all time! In her book, All the Women of the Bible, Edith Deen wrote of Mary, “Though she never traveled any farther than from Palestine to Egypt, and then by donkey, her story still travels to the farthest corners of the earth.”
Let’s learn from Mary’s example today. Let’s remember to live humbly and step out with boldness. Like Mary, we can all be part of God’s remarkable story.
Kristine Brown is a writer, dramatist, and former English teacher. She desires to support women in their spiritual lives with practical teaching for real-life struggles. Kristine devotes her time to freelance writing and her non-profit ministry, More Than Yourself, Inc. You can read more from Kristine at www.morethanyourself.com.
Publication date: June 3, 2016