Mary the mother of Jesus Biography

Mary with the Angel Gabriel

Mary with the Angel Gabriel

No one had ever paid unusual attention to young Mary.  She was born in a poor family from the insignificant town of Nazareth. She didn’t appear to stand out from her peers and would probably not have been voted ‘most likely to succeed.’ Eventually, however, she was engaged to a man named Joseph who could not promise her affluence but was a kind man with a stable reputation.

While Mary was growing up unknown by the outside world, God had taken note of her and was delighted.  One day, to Mary’s astonishment, an angel appeared to her.  “Greetings, favored one!  The Lord is with you,” the angel said.  “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God.” The angel proceeded to tell her she would conceive and give birth as a virgin to the Son of God himself.  Instead of recoiling in terror or objecting stubbornly, Mary submitted completely to a pregnancy she had to know would give rise to the ugliest of rumors and accusations.

Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem

Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem

At that time Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. The elderly Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant with a baby who was to become the mighty John the Baptist.  When she saw Mary she cried, “Blessed are you among women!  And blessed is the fruit of your womb.  What an honor that the mother of my Lord should visit me!”  Spontaneous joy overflowed from Mary’s heart in those days.

Then shortly after Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary took him to the temple to be dedicated.  That is when the godly Simeon told Mary, “This boy will be the greatest joy to some, but others in Israel will cruelly reject him.  And a sword shall pierce your soul…”

Perhaps this was Mary’s first omen of what was to come.  But she did not shrink from forebodings nor did she attempt to speculate to others of her son’s future.  As Jesus grew, and multiplied events pointed to his unique identity, his mother silently pondered and treasured up all these things in her heart.

As the Son of God reached manhood and launched out into his public ministry, Mary ushered Him onto center stage and faded into the background.  Little is mentioned of her throughout Christ’s public ministry, but we do detect a few cases in which confusion about Jesus’ words and actions appears evident.

And what was Mary to think when this great Messiah she had birthed came more and more under intense opposition and was finally railroaded to death when she knew he could have demonstrated his divine power?

We do know, however, that Mary was standing with John, the disciple, at the Cross as the sword of grief pierced her soul.  She was also with the select group of disciples when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.

It would be wonderful if we knew more about this remarkable woman—if we could gaze into her soul and learn her most intimate thoughts and emotions during those astounding times.  Perhaps the deepest glimpse we have into that soul is in the words of her Magnificat:

Mary and Joseph at Jesus' birth

Mary and Joseph at Jesus’ birth

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden;
Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,
For He that is mighty has done to me great things and holy is His name,
And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation,
He hath shown strength with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts;
He has put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree,
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away,
He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to His seed forever.

What can we learn from Mary the Mother of Jesus?

We view Mary as the most privileged woman who ever lived, and, in a sense, she was.  However at times we may not realize the price she paid for the honor.  Though she knew she was pregnant through the Holy Spirit, many neighbors and acquaintances undoubtedly spread deadly gossip that she had fallen into sin with her fiance or someone else.  When Jesus began his ministry, surely Mary must have cringed and feared for Jesus when she heard people call Him a bastard, a drunkard, and even Beelzebub himself.  And, finally, as she watched her son die at Golgotha mere tears must have hardly reflected the wrenching agony she felt inside.  Yet from Mary we can learn that God gives more grace as our burdens grow greater.  From whom He asks much He also supplies much, and God will be there for you if a sword pierces your own soul.

Bible Verses about Mary the Mother of Jesus

Matt. 1:16; Luke 1:27, 38, 46, 56; 2:5, 16, 19, 34; Matt. 2:11; Luke 2:43, 48; Matt. 12:46, 13:55; John 2:1, 5, 12; 19:25

What questions does this help to answer?

  • Who was Mary in the Bible?
  • Why did God choose Mary?
  • What was the relationship between Mary and Joseph?
  • What was the relationship between Mary and Jesus?
  • Was Mary favored by God?
  • What happened to Mary when Jesus grew up?

Author Info

Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes.  Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education.  Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally.  He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.

Steve Fortosis