Ordinary woman, extraordinary faith

I’m sure no one in Nazareth would have predicted young Mary would be mother of the Messiah.

But God chose her to bear Jesus.

What did he see in her?  Faith.

Mary was ordinary. Nothing in the scriptures speaks of her as being particularly brilliant or accomplished.

But her faith was extraordinary.

I think of Mary as we are on the doorstep of Mother’s Day.  Mothers have a formative influence on children and God knew that as he selected Mary to be Jesus’ mother.

There is not much about Mary in the New Testament, but what is there paints a picture of her as a woman totally committed to her son, trusting him and the Father even when she was bewildered by what was going on.

Her first encounter with the angel Gabriel in Luke 1 is wonderful – I can’t help but rejoice at the way she responded to this terrifying appearance and news.  He tells her that she will bear the son of God even though she is engaged to be married to the carpenter Joseph.  The Holy Spirit will plant the seed.

Mary responded: “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”

That simple acceptance that what God has said is trustworthy continued to mark her life.

When Jesus was 12, he went with his family to the Passover celebrations at the temple in Jerusalem.  He stayed behind when his extended family left and discussed spiritual things with the temple leaders (Luke 2).  When his parents discovered he wasn’t with them, they returned to the temple and reprimanded him for not accompanying them and worrying them.

His reply: “But why did you need to search?  Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke says Jesus’ mother stored all these things in her heart.  Others in Nazareth didn’t think much of Jesus – he was just the carpenter’s son.  But Mary knew he was more than that.

In John 2, Mary plays a very interesting role in Jesus’ first miracle – converting water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana.

She goes to Jesus to tell him that the hosts have no more wine.  That’s embarrassing, but Jesus says that’s not his problem.  Yet, Mary tells the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Clearly, her mother’s heart told her that Jesus would help out his friends.  And she knew he would do something out of the ordinary.

And Jesus, the loving son, asks the servants to fill the wine jars with water.  The result is wine – a miracle.

Jesus’ bond with his mother was strong.  Even in the midst of excruciating pain, he tells his disciple John to care for his mother who is standing watching him in the final throes of death.

I can only imagine how terrible it was for Mary to see her son abused, cursed, scorned and then brutally nailed to a cross.  Any mother would have been heart-broken in a similar situation.

But I can also picture her joy when she and the disciples and followers of Jesus saw him after he rose from the dead.  What a vindication of the trust and faith she had placed in God and her son Jesus.

As believers, we can learn a great deal about faith by looking at Mary, an ordinary woman.


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