“Blessed Art Thou Among Women”

“The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the LORD is with thee: Blessed art thou among women.” —Luke 1:27,28

THE FIRST PART of this article was published in the December, 1997 issue of The Dawn magazine. Part 2, a continuation of the topic, endeavors to establish Mary’s place in God’s plan by considering all of the known Scriptural references to her.

The angel, Gabriel, visited Mary to tell her that she would conceive, as prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. She wondered how this could be possible since she had not known any man. Gabriel explained to her that this child would be begotten by God’s Holy Spirit, and God would be his father. Thus, the life of the Logos was transferred to Mary’s womb and she bore a child who grew into the man, Christ Jesus.

When Mary and Joseph went to the Temple in Jerusalem for her purification, they also presented Jesus to the Lord. Two elderly ‘Israelites indeed’ had come to the Temple and quoted scriptures that were a surprise to Mary. How many scriptures did Mary know? As a faithful Israelite she diligently attended services in the synagogue, and she was attentive to the words spoken by the rabbi and the words of the Psalms that were sung. This is evident from the words of the hymn of praise sung by Mary when she visited her kinswoman, Elisabeth. The components of this beautiful hymn recorded in Luke 1:46-55 are excerpts from Psalms 138:6; 103:17; 98:1; 33:10; 113:6; 34:10; and 98:3. Mary, however, did not know the true meaning of these scriptures until the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles and the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.—Acts 2:17,18,28


After the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary resided in a house in Bethlehem for a while. It was there that the ‘wise men’ from the East found them to present gifts and to worship the King of the Jews. (Matt. 2:1-11) First the wise men had gone to Jerusalem to ask the king where to find the “King of the Jews” (vs. 2), for they had been following his star. Herod did not know where Messiah would be born and so he inquired for this information from the chief priests and the scribes. They promptly answered, “Bethlehem,” citing Micah 5:2. Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem, asking to be told when they found the child so he could “worship him also.”—Matt. 2:8

God, the Father, knew that the defenseless child, Jesus, was in jeopardy. Therefore God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their country by another route. (Matt. 2:12) Likewise, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to flee to Egypt because Herod would seek the child to destroy him. None of this could have happened if Jesus was part of a Trinity. When we see that God, the Father, was protecting his Son, Jesus, and that both were distinctly separate entities, how reasonable is the record of these events.

It was God, the Father, who knew of the murderous threat of Herod and took action to protect the young child, Jesus. True to form, as known by the Father, Herod had all children slain in the Bethlehem area, who were two years of age or under. Jesus, however, was safe in Egypt by then.


Another incident, recorded in Luke’s Gospel, concerns Mary when Jesus was twelve years old. He had accompanied his parents to Jerusalem, where they went every year to celebrate Passover. When it was time to return home, Jesus tarried in Jerusalem; but his parents did not know he was not with the returning group until they had traveled a day’s journey. After searching among all their relatives and friends who were traveling together and not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem and searched for three days before they found him in the Temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his remarks.

When his parents found him, his mother said, “‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you’. ‘Why were you searching for me’, he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (Luke 2:41-50, New International Version) If Mary was the mother of God, she surely would understand what he was saying. Jesus was now at an age where he could understand the Biblical prophecies—especially those which concerned his mission on earth as designed by his Heavenly Father.


In the Bible there are only a few references concerning Mary at the time when Jesus first began his ministry. One incident, however, did occur at the very beginning of his ministry when Mary and Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding at Cana of Galilee. The celebration had run out of wine, and Mary made this predicament known to Jesus. Apparently she had some involvement with the wedding party. Our Lord’s reply was, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? … My time has not yet come.” (John 2:1-11, NIV) We note that Jesus did not address her as ‘Mother of God’, ‘Queen of Heaven’, or by any special title given to her in later years. On this occasion Jesus proceeded to provide the wine, performing his first miracle.

Later, as Jesus began his ministry, there was the occasion when Mary, and Jesus’ brothers also, sought Jesus. They wanted to speak to him as he was preaching to a crowd of followers. Jesus was told of this by one who brought the message to him. Jesus reacted by asking, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”—Matt. 12:46-50

This same incident is recorded in Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21. Why did Jesus make this statement? It is because he was emphasizing that earthly relationships have no meaning when it comes to selecting “a people for his [God’s] name.” (Acts 15:14) Being the mother of the man, Christ Jesus, was not as important as being a disciple and true follower of Christ.


It is believed that Mary did not bring her own children with her, but that they were her nephews. The scriptural passages: Matthew 13:53-58, and Mark 6:1-5, record the visit Jesus made to the territory near his boyhood home, and the reaction of people who had known him, who said: “Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matt. 13:54-56) These ‘brethren’ are believed to be Mary’s nephews and our Lord’s cousins. In those times, cousins were called brothers.

These were the children of Mary’s sister-in-law, also named Mary, and the wife of Cleophas (also called Alpheus). The scriptural basis for this assertion is provided in the Appendix to this article.


All these family relationships make more sense of the action that Jesus took while dying on the cross. He saw his mother and the other two Marys standing by the cross with the Apostle John. He entrusted his mother into John’s care. The Scriptures tell us, “From that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:27) Would Jesus have done this if she had other children to look after her? Mary was now alone. Her husband, Joseph, had died; and now her son, Jesus, was about to die.

Mary had performed the task given to her by God very well. She gave birth to Jesus; she nourished him and cared for him as all good mothers do for their children. What reward did God plan for her? What position could be made available for her? Since Mary was descended from Adam, it was necessary for her to understand that Jesus was, indeed, Israel’s and the world’s Savior, and that he would restore the kingdom to Israel.

Believing that Jesus was man’s Redeemer was no problem for Mary. She understood God’s plan perfectly after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles and her, and all the faithful disciples who formed the nucleus of believers assembled on the Day of Pentecost as instructed by Jesus.


When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he showed himself on a number of occasions to this faithful company of believers. The last time they saw him was in Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 1:1-12, before his ascension. Mary was there. They were told not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Holy Spirit. The eleven apostles were present and are named by Luke, assembling in the upper room. (Acts 1:13) “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:14) This is the last scriptural reference to Mary. Together with the other faithful disciples (120), they waited until the Day of Pentecost when they all were blessed by the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. Before the day ended about 3,000 men and women of Israel were baptized accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and dedicating their lives to doing God’s will by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Mary was one of these chosen from Israel to be a member of the body of Christ. If she continued faithful unto death she would receive a “crown of life” and have the privilege of living and reigning with Christ.—Rev. 2:10; 20:6

There is no further mention of Mary in the Scriptures. There is very little in traditional writings as well. She remained with the Apostle John until she died. Traditional writings are contradictory and unreliable. Some say she died in Jerusalem. Others say she traveled to Ephesus with the Apostle John. What is important is that she no doubt was faithful in her consecration to do God’s will, and we expect that she will be in the body of Christ, where there no longer is any distinction of personalities, and all who are faithful are one in Christ Jesus. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”—Gal. 3:28


During our Lord’s ministry, there were many women who ministered to him and were his followers. There are six women named Mary mentioned in the New Testament: 1) Mary, the mother of Jesus; 2) Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha; 3) Mary Magdalene; 4) Mary, the wife of Cleophas and the mother of James, Jude, Joses, Simon, and Salome, called the ‘brethren’ of our Lord, and by which it is believed that Cleophas and Joseph, the husband of Mary (the mother of Jesus), were brothers; 5) Mary, the mother of Mark; 6) Mary, a resident of Ephesus who ministered to the Apostle Paul.

With so many women with the name Mary, we depend on other scriptures to avoid confusion. John 19:25 is the principal scripture, which says, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” Since it is unlikely that a family would use the same name for two sisters, it is reasoned that Mary, the wife of Cleophas, was a sister-in-law to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Commentators believe that Cleophas was the Syriac or Hebrew name of the father of the Apostle James the less, and that Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3) was his Greek name. Cleophas was believed to be the natural brother of Joseph, and their wives—both named Mary—were sisters-in-law. Mary, the wife of Cleophas, is mentioned as the mother of James the less in Mark 15:40. In some citations her other children are mentioned, such as in Matthew 27:56: “James and Joses”; or Mark 15:40: “James the less, and of Joses and Salome.” The family of ‘James the less’ is mentioned on two other occasions where they are called our Lord’s brethren, “James, Joses, and Simon, and Judas” (Matt. 13:53-58; Mark 6:15), but their sisters were not named except in Mark 15:40, where Salome is mentioned.

In addition to John 19:25, there is recorded in two other Gospels which women were at the cross when Jesus was crucified. Matthew says: “Many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”—Matt. 27:55,66

In Mark’s Gospel we read, “There were also women looking on afar off. among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.”—Mark 15:40,41

Finally, the Apostle Paul relates his visit to Jerusalem three years after his conversion, and reports seeing the Apostle James (the less—John ‘s brother James had died). He refers to him as the Lord’s brother (cousin, in our language).—Gal. 1:19

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