Mary Mother of Our Lord
Andrew Borland of Scotland, Editor of The Believer’s Magazine, is well-known to our reader family. This is the first of three articles dealing with three noble women of the New Testament. The articles have been selected from “Wholesome Words,” a bi- monthly paper received from New Zealand.
Readers of the New Testament know how indebted we are to Luke for information about the people associated with the birth of our Lord. Chapters one and two of his Gospel are masterpieces of literature, written with a sympathetic understanding of the events surrounding the birth of the Saviour of the world. Among the numerous interesting features of those chapters is the introduction of three most remarkable women, each one of whom had her own special part to play in that unique period in history.
Mary was a young woman, whose age is undisclosed; she evidently was in the blush of maidenhood. She was a virgin, espoused to Joseph, the village carpenter whom she expected soon to marry. Elisabeth, who was to become the mother of John the Baptist, was a married woman, well-stricken in years. The great disappointment in her life was the absence of a family, although both she and her husband were a worthy couple and had prayed that they might have a son to dedicate to the service of God. Anna of whom Luke gives us only a momentary glimple, was a widow of great age, whose memory stretched well nigh a full century back.
One general lesson from the story of those women is this that women had a noble and beautiful part to play in the fulfilment of the purpose of God. Age, in the development of the divine plan, was no disqualification. Mary was young; Elisabeth was beyond middle-age; Anna was an old woman. Social status is no hindrance to usefulness. Mary was a virgin; Elisabeth was a married woman; Anna was a widow. What an encouragement to all classes of women! None need claim exemption from service according to the will of God.
Consider, Mary, the virgin. As we are concerned with her character rather than with the unique nature of “that Holy Thing” of which she would be the mother, there is no need to defend the truth of the Virgin Birth of our Lord. Notice that she lived in social surroundings which were not conducive to the promotion of godliness of character. Nazareth, presumably her native town, was notorious. The question was asked by Nathaniel, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” The inhabitants, generally, had a reputation for being proud, haughty, and easily offended. Yet the impression we get of Mary is that she was meek, submissive, pure. The obvious lesson is that the grace of God can enable a person to triumph over circumstances which are detrimental to godly living. That should be an encouragement to young Christian women surrounded by a permissive society.
Evidently Mary had been able to maintain her beautiful character throughout girlhood into young maidenhood. Although nothing is recorded about her home life, it is deducible that from her earliest years she had been taught that she had her soul to keep free from the pernicious environment in which she lived. How did she do that? Would she not be helped by the recollection of her worthy family connection? The probability is that, like her prospective husband, she was of the house and lineage of David. Consequently, she may have been impressed that she had a fine tradition to maintain. What a help it would be to her to have near and distant godly forbears! Young women should not forget the duty of the respect they owe to parents whose godly lives and careful instruction build a protective moral and spiritual wall around their exposed lives.
Further, the grace of God was upon her. Tradition, good as it might be, was not sufficient. More was needed. The divine purpose had destined her for a wonderful part in the program of salvation. To preserve her, and she being unwitting thereof, the grace of God was in constant operation on her behalf. Little do any of us realise what a debt we owe to God for the grace which surrounds us, protects us, and will not let us go.
Mary was a lover of the Word of God. What access she had to the Old Testament Scriptures we do not know. Perhaps she was indebted to the recitation by her mother of favourite passages read in the synagogue. The maiden’s retentive memory cherished the words she had heard, and when the occasion demanded it she was able to give vent to her pious feelings in language reminiscent of Hannah’s song preserved in their ancient writings. Happy the young woman whose speech is recollective of words she has memorized from her perusal of the Book of books.
Is there any wonder that Mary attracted the attention of the most godly man in the village? Joseph is described as a righteous man, that is, pious, noble, and known for character derived from fellowship with God. While the physical beauty and comeliness of behavior may have attracted him to Mary, such a man would be aware that his betrothal to Mary was of the Lord. That is a most important factor in the establishment of a new home.
We may well ask. What should be the overruling factors in the betrothal of two young Christian persons?
1. Mutual attraction prompted by the Lord. So important is the right decision that mere natural impulses should be regulated by prayer and evidence of divine guidance.
2. Character should take precedence over every other qualification. It is better than possession of material wealth. It is better than mere academic attainment. It is better than the attractiveness of personal adornments.
3. Faithfulness to one’s pledge in the partnership. Joseph had a most tempting experience, but by the grace of God he overcame despite seemingly insuperable difficulties. The breaking of engagements, simply for personal advantages, is to be deplored, and should be neither countenanced nor encouraged.
4. Years of waiting are a splendid preparation for the duties of motherhood. What a home Mary’s must have been! Submission to the divine will cannot but result in a home which will radiate the atmosphere of heaven.