Women in the Bible

Women in the New Testament - Mary the Mother of Jesus

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to Pip.

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.' 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.' 34 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' 35 The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.' 38 'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May your word to me be fulfilled.' Then the angel left her.


Mary can have a bit of a bad rep in our sort of church. This is often in reaction to other Christians who put Mary on a bit of a pedestal. If you have a bit of a Catholic hangover you may have strong feelings about her too. But I want to encourage you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and see Mary for who she really is - a hero of the faith. Not divine, nor equal with God, but someone uniquely used by God and in whom we see a remarkable example of faith and obedience.

There is a Greek word used commonly used by Eastern Orthodox Christians of Mary: Theotokos [θeoˈtokos]. It approximately means 'parent' or 'Mother of God' or 'God-bearer'.

I want to share a few reflections on Mary being the first God-bearer.

God with us | God in us

Throughout the Old Testament God by his Spirit is said to come upon particular patriarchs, judges, warriors, kings, and prophets; for example, Joshua (Num. 27:18), Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (6:34), Samson (13:25; 14:6), and Saul (1 Sam. 10:9, 10). However, the Spirit later departed them (1 Sam 16:14). From the time of Moses, there was a desire that the Spirit of God would be with all people not just a few: "...I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!' (Numbers 11:29). The prophet Joel prophesied that a day would come when the Spirit would be poured out on all people, young and old (Joel 2:28-29). The Spirit is said to be upon these people but rarely, if ever, is the Spirit said to dwell in these people.

The angel announces that the Spirit will come upon Mary and she will conceive, carry, and nourish Christ (the Messiah) in her womb. Mary bears God in her womb. Imagine that for a moment. God - the creator of everything; solar systems, oceans, humans, personally contained by a womb. This is like trying to squeeze a battleship in a thimble.

At Pentecost, the Spirit is poured out indiscriminately and the disciples speak in many tongues. We as followers of Jesus are called, like Mary, and like the disciples to be filled with Christ. We are to be 'God-bearers' in the world.

Just as Mary carried Christ in her womb, may we respond as she did with faith and obedience and carry Christ in our lives too.

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