History's Women: Women of Faith: Mary - Mother of JesusMary
Mother of Jesus
By Patricia Chadwick

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the best-known female character in the Bible. We are first introduced to Mary when her name appears in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew where she is referred to as the wife of Joseph. Though her first mention is in this context, she soon became known as a godly young woman who God chose to carry his Son to term. Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ.

Historically, little is known about Mary. It is told to us that Mary was a peasant woman from the tribe of Judah, and in the line of King David. She became the wife of Joseph, son of Heli (Luke 2:7). It is never mentioned who Mary’s parents were, but based on the knowledge of Mary’s character found in the Scriptures, it is believed that she came from a godly home of devout Jews. In the time period that Mary lived, girls were not always trained in the Holy Scriptures, but were trained mainly to run the home. But Mary evidently had a been trained in the Scriptures.

As seen by her praise of God in her “Magnificat” in Luke 1:47-55, Mary was well-versed in the Scriptures and had hidden portions of it in her heart.

Mary was engaged to Joseph and in that era the engagement, or betrothal, was binding and could only be dissolved by a legal divorce. This engagement was signed by an official and came at least a year before the marriage took place. It is believed that Mary was quite young when she married. Most Israelite boys at that time married in their late teens, but women wed even earlier. According to The Handbook of Life in Bible Times, by J.A. Thompson, rabbis had set the minimum age for marriage at 12 for girls. Mary was likely a young adolescent.

Though she was young, and probably poor, Mary had something priceless inside: she was a woman of faith who loved God deeply, having an obedient spirit. Have you ever wondered what kind of woman God would choose to carry His Son? She was chosen to love and nurture Him as her firstborn and raise Him in the knowledge of God.

  • Mary was a chaste virgin. In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet Isaiah stated that the Messiah (God’s Son) would be born of a virgin. Mary fit the bill. She was a young, unmarried woman; pure and godly.
  • Mary was a humble woman. Mary was a small-town girl from the insignificant village of Nazareth. Though she was of nobility, being in the line of King David, the family had lost all its status because of the years of Israel’s captivity and years of foreign domination. No, Mary was a peasant girl, not a princess.
  • Mary was an obedient follower. God does not look at outward appearances, but always looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). When God looked at Mary He saw an obedient woman who would live according to His will, just like her ancestor, David (Acts 13:22).
  • Mary was a faithful Jew. Mary was of the tribe of Judah and the line of David. She worshiped the one true God and she knew the Holy Scriptures.

After the birth of Jesus, many curious events occurred. The shepherds, who were out in the fields tending their sheep, had seen angels who told them that their Savior had just been born and that they should go find the Child in Bethlehem. They found Him and they worshiped. Later, wise men from the East came to Bethlehem to honor the Child, whose “star was seen in the East (Matthew 2:2). They found Him, and they worshiped. Mary just took it all in and she pondered these things in her heart (Luke 2:19). She was given a great responsibility, yes. But she was also given a tremendous gift.

Mary’s service to God did not end that first Christmas when Jesus was born. Mary mothered Jesus for the thirty years that he lived with her their poor Nazareth home. From childhood to manhood, Mary loved and nurtured Jesus as he grew into manhood. She did all the things a devoted mother did for the son she new was no ordinary man. Mary could not surround her Son with wealth. The family was so poor that when she went to the Temple to present Him to the Lord, she could only offer a pair pigeons – the offering of the very poor. She could not introduce Him to the culture of the day. Being poor and enduring a forced exile in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15) Mary and Joseph had little education to pass on to the young Jesus. But Mary had so much to give Jesus. She gave him gifts of infinite more value than secular and material advantages.

  • She gave Him birth.
  • She, along with Joseph, gave Him a home.
  • She cultivated in the home a purity of heart, obedience, and love.


Mary was a woman who was blessed by God. Though she seemingly had nothing to offer, she was chosen by God himself to be a part of His plan of redemption of mankind. She was young, poor, and unknown. She had never been a mother, she possessed no wealth or family inheritance, and she boasted no fame or social status. Yet she has been honored throughout all history for her faithful obedience to God.


Excerpt from Old Fashioned Holidays from History’s Women written by Patricia Chadwick. It is available in eBook format at the History’s Women Shop.

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