Mary is honoured as the Mother of Jesus. Was she more than a mother? This is part 1 of 7 where I look at what calling God may have given to Mary after Jesus's resurrection.
When a woman called out from the crowd to bless the womb that carried Jesus and the breasts at which he nursed, Jesus corrected the woman, teaching her that God values a woman for more than the sons she may bear. On the contrary, blessed is the woman who hears God’s word and puts it into practice.
In Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold, you can imagine yourself as the mother of Jesus honoured God chose you from among many women to give birth to Jesus. Mary was young, maybe fifteen, yet she questioned the angel, asking how that could happen since she had never been with a man. The angel gave evidence that God could do such a thing, citing that Mary's cousin was pregnant even though she was old and had never before been able to have children. The predicted pregnancy would risk Mary's betrothal to Joseph, would ruin her reputation and could risk her life if the community thought she was an adulterer. Mary agreed to be the Lord's servant, consented to be used by the Lord, and prepared to do God's will and let the plan go forward. Did God value Mary for her womb and breasts or for hearing God's word and obeying it?
Mary had pondered the miraculous birth and likely seen private miracles before she directed Jesus to do a public miracle at the wedding in Cana. She believed in Jesus. Yet Jesus's brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5) and it appears they convinced Mary that Jesus was endangering his life and safety by breaking the laws and that they should take him home and keep him quiet (Matt. 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Lk 8:19-21).
Jesus refused to go with them and said that only those who heard God's word and obeyed it were his true mother, brother, or sister. If you were the mother of Jesus, would you feel as if he had rejected you?
In Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold, Mara of Clopas comforts Maria (Mary of Nazareth) and reassures her that Jesus loves her and wants her to stay in his life. He did not give Mary less honour when he gave others more. Jesus did not abandon Mary when he brought others into the family. Others gained the privilege of being adopted into God's family.
In the same way, if those in privileged positions today share their leadership, they lose nothing but show their acceptance of the teaching that God gives all men and women believers the privilege of being adopted with the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:4-7). Jesus showed he valued Maria for more than her womb and breasts. Since Maria is a woman who hears God's word and obeys it, God blesses her - with more than giving birth to Jesus. Maybe God will give her a new calling, following his example of lifting up others. In the same way, women today who are past the age of childbearing may find God calls them to a new direction, purpose, or calling.
When God blesses Adam and Eve with being fruitful and multiplying, some may think it is a command to have children (Genesis 1:27-28). However, Genesis says that it is God's blessing, and it includes not only filling the earth but managing the earth. Jesus explained that our fruit as the result of our character and work (Matthew 7:17). Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Even once women are past the age of childbearing, they can bear spiritual fruit. "The righteous... will still bear fruit in old age", Psalms 92:12-14). After giving birth to Jesus and mentoring him as he grew, Mary will continue to bear spiritual fruit.
Please click here for more biblical, traditional, and historical references to Maria of Nazareth and the other woman disciples in Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold.
When Jesus was on the cross, it appeared that God had abandoned Jesus. But God did not abandon Jesus; God opened the way to adopt others into the family. It did not appear that a new kingdom had been established, but Maria and other women stood by Jesus, faithful and brave. After the risen Jesus appeared to many, Mary was with the disciples and the other women and Jesus's brothers as they saw Jesus rise into the clouds and then they returned to Jerusalem (Acts 1:1-14).
After the resurrection, Mary was able to confidently teach others about God's faithfulness and the call to follow the words of Jesus. Mary heard God's word and put it into practice when she was young, and again when she was middle-aged. We can honour Mary for more than being the mother of Jesus.
In the following posts, I will provide summaries and insights from the book, Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership. It shows ancient evidence that Mary was an apostle who baptized new believers and presided over the Eucharist/Communion. She was a priest or bishop who spoke, taught, blessed and strengthened other followers of Jesus.
Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership, by Dr. Ally Kateusz, reveals Mary as a leader in the early church. Published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.
It is available at no cost, licensed under Creative Commons Open Access:
Elaine Ricker Kelly Author is empowering women with Christian fiction about women in the Bible and early church and Christian blogs about women in leadership, church history and doctrine. Her books include:
Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold
The Sword A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says About a Woman's Role