Mary – A Role Model For Mothers

Title: Mary - A Role Model For Mothers

Bible Book: Selected Passages

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Mother's Day; Mother



Because some folks have mistakenly elevated Mary, in their thinking, to a position that is not taught in the Bible, others of us have gone to the extreme of almost ignoring her. But she deserves better than either of those extremes. Mary was one of the noblest characters in the entire Bible. She is a wonderful role model for mothers, and she deserves to be honored as such.

Let’s look today at what the Bible tells us about Mary. In what ways is she a role model for mothers?

For one thing, she is an excellent role model because of


Indeed, not only is she a role model for mothers - she is also a role model for unmarried women and teen-age girls.

In Luke 1 is the story of how the angel Gabriel revealed to the aged priest, Zechariah, that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son - and that son would be John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus.

Then we read in Luke 1:26-27: “And in the sixth month [that is, the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

Mary was a virgin. She was “espoused,” the Bible says, to a man named Joseph. Some Bible versions translate it “engaged” or “betrothed.” But in those days, to be espoused - or engaged, or betrothed - was very different from a modern-day engagement. Betrothal was considered just as binding as marriage, even though the couple were forbidden to have sexual intercourse during the betrothal period. In fact, it was so binding that the betrothed couple were spoken of as husband and wife, and the only way the betrothal could be broken was by divorce.

We need to remember that Mary was not divine - she was a mere mortal, just like you and me. Then, as now, temptation abounded on every hand. But she had kept herself clean and pure. I’m thankful for the “True Love Waits” movement that has gained such momentum among the young people of today. More and more of our youth are realizing that the only right way to live is God’s way, as revealed in the Scriptures. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification [or, holiness], that ye should abstain from fornication.” The Greek word for “fornication” means “all kinds of illicit or unnatural sexual indulgence.” The Williams translation renders it like this: “For it is God’s will that you should keep pure in person, that you should practice abstinence from sexual immorality.”

You and I need to do everything within our power to help our children and grandchildren

understand the fallacy of the idea that all things are relative. Regardless of what they might hear from some ungodly liberal sources, there are in this world some moral absolutes. The weak-kneed claim that “everybody is doing it” is a lie from the depths of hell. Unfortunately, many are doing it - but thank the Lord, those whose heads are on straight and whose hearts are right are not indulging in premarital sex.

Young ladies, please hear me: any male who tells you that you ought to prove your love by engaging in sex with him is a liar - and he’s also lying if he says that he loves you. Real love never tries to exploit the other person. Real love shows respect for the other individual. Real love puts the brakes on one’s own desires. Real love seeks to elevate and ennoble the other person. So, if some young fellow comes on with that line, tell him to go peddle his papers somewhere else. What you’ve got on your hands with a fellow like that is a selfish, immature kid - not a real man. Real men have self-control and show respect.

The greatest gift that a person can bring to marriage is to be able to look your marriage partner in the eye and say truthfully, “I’ve kept myself clean and pure just for you, as I know that you have for me.”

Well, preacher, what about the person who has failed in that regard? Thank the Lord, our God can clean up a life that is not pure - as evidenced, for example, in the case of the woman at the well in Samaria, or the woman taken in adultery in John 8. So, if you’ve failed, don’t give in to despair. God loves you, and he gives you this wonderful promise in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

But how much better it is to keep oneself pure to begin with - and Mary was a wonderful role model in that regard.

Mary was also a great role model for mothers because of


Let’s read Luke 1:28-37: “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Now look at verse 38: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”

Mary didn’t fully comprehend what God’s angel had said to her. She understood it in part, but yet she couldn’t completely grasp what was in store for her. Yet her life was so surrendered to God that she said, in effect: “Lord, whatever your will for my life is, so be it - whether I understand it or not.”

Mary was clearly a born-again person. During her visit with her cousin Elizabeth, Mary began praising God. In verses 46-47 we read: “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Mary was a wonderful, clean, blessed young woman - but nevertheless she, like all the rest of us, had fallen short of the glory of God. She was sexually pure, but she had sinned in other ways. 1 Kings 8:46 declares that “there is no man that sinneth not.” Thus, Mary needed a Savior - just as you and I do.

No doubt she was familiar with such Old Testament prophecies as Isaiah 53:5-6: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

She had put her faith in God’s promised Redeemer who would one day come to save people from their sins - and now she can hardly contain herself as she realizes that she is to be the human vessel through whom the promised Christ will enter the world. That’s the basic explanation as to why Mary was such a wonderful role model for mothers - she was saved. That’s the number one requirement for anyone to be the kind of person God intends you to be. Be sure that you’ve yielded yourself, in repentance and faith, to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not only was Mary saved, but she was a woman of prayer. One of the red-letter days in Christian history was the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out in mighty power and several thousand people were saved on that one day. But the secret of Pentecost was that, prior to that day, a group of faithful believers prayed long and fervently. Several of those present are named in Acts 1:13, and then verse 14 says: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

Thank the Lord for praying mothers. In my youth my ambition was to be a professional comic strip artist. After one year of college I asked my parents to let me go to New York City to a particular art school that I had learned about. Reluctantly they agreed, and I took a bus to New York. I was a few months shy of my 19th birthday, and here I was - an inexperienced small-town boy - in the big city. I didn’t know a soul. I was not yet a Christian at that time. I enrolled in the school, and rented an apartment with a fellow student, a young man about my own age - he wasn’t a Christian, either. I had myriads of opportunities to ruin my life permanently - but somehow got around those Satanic traps. Later I understood why. Back in my little home town in Mississippi was a precious mother who spent a lot of time on her knees praying for her son who was away in the big city. There is no doubt in my mind that it was my mother’s prayers that kept Satan from destroying me during that year in New York. Later, when I was back in college, I was saved.

There’s a third reason that Mary was a wonderful role model for mothers - and that is


I have no doubt whatsoever that she was also deeply devoted to her other children, all of whom were conceived after the birth of Jesus. Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” But the purpose of the New Testament is to present Jesus - so, as the Bible tells us about Mary and what kind of mother she was, it deals primarily with her relationship to Jesus.

Even though Mary experienced great blessing and joy in being the mother of Jesus, she also experienced heartache - not inflicted by Jesus, to be sure, but heartache nonetheless. We learn in Luke 2 that when Jesus was only a few days old, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem for a ceremony in which they “presented him to the Lord.” It was probably similar in some ways to our baby dedication services.

There was an elderly man living in Jerusalem named Simeon. We read about him in Luke 2:26-30: “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

Now, verses 33-35: “And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also)....”

If you really want to tear me up, then you dare to hurt one of my children. That’s the way we fathers feel about it, and that’s also the way mothers feel. It must have crushed Mary to see her son misunderstood, falsely accused, mistreated, and rejected by so many.


She must have also been deeply pained at her own inability to comprehend much of what Jesus said and did. Because Jesus never sinned, she didn’t experience the same heartaches that most parents experience, but make no mistake about it - Mary had her own unique set of heartaches.

There’s also another type of hurt that I believe Mary experienced. Remember Joseph’s reaction when he first learned that Mary was pregnant? We read about it in

Matthew 1:19-25:

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

It took a special appearance by an angel to convince Joseph that Mary was not a fallen woman. But the other people throughout that community had no such angelic revelation - all they had was Joseph and Mary’s word. Thus, human nature being what it is, in all likelihood Mary was the subject of a lot of whispering and gossiping - yet she bravely persevered, knowing in her heart that she was not guilty as accused, and rejoicing in the one-time-in-history, miraculous privilege that was hers. But that great privilege notwithstanding, Mary was human - and it must have hurt her deeply to have to live under a cloud of suspicion.

There was also another unique challenge that Mary faced. Think of the tremendous sense of obligation that must have continually weighed upon her. Although much of the time she didn’t fully comprehend the wondrous nature of this child she had borne, at other times she did seem to understand - and she must have felt an awesome responsibility to say and do the right things in raising Jesus - and, be it said to her credit and to the glory of God, by the Lord’s grace she, along with Joseph, met the challenge. For instance, apparently they regularly took him to the house of God for worship, because when Jesus was a grown man, Luke 4:16 says of him, “ his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day....” It is logical to assume that he learned that custom from Mary and Joseph.

Another example of Mary’s motherly concern is seen in Luke 2, in the record of Joseph and Mary taking Jesus to Jerusalem to observe the Passover Feast when he was 12 years old. On their trip back to Nazareth from Jerusalem, somehow they lost track of Jesus. It took them three days to find him. Imagine the alarm that must have filled Mary’s heart, and Joseph’s, too, as they looked for Jesus, fearing all sorts of horrible things that might have happened. But finally they found him back in Jerusalem. In Luke 2:46-47 we read: “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”

Verse 48 says: “And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”

Verses 49-50: “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.”

Verse 51 says: “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” Mary still couldn’t grasp the wonder of it all - but she never wavered in her duty as a mother. She was determined to look after her son to the best of her ability - and it’s important to note that Jesus “was subject unto them” - that is, he respected and obeyed Mary and Joseph. What a great example Jesus set for children and young people of today.

Then we read in verse 52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Although he was the perfect Son of God, he was also the Son of man - that is, he was fully human, though without sin - and he had to grow, he had to develop, he had to be taught; and obviously Mary, along with Joseph, did a superb job of giving guidance to Jesus when he was a child and then a youth.

Now, let’s fast-forward. Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, arrested by the soldiers, and put through a mock trial. Although it broke her heart to see it, Mary stood by while Jesus was crucified. It must have been soul-wrenching for this loving mother to have to stand by helplessly as her precious son was maligned, spat upon, ridiculed, and cruelly put to death. As she looked at Jesus through tear-blinded eyes, she must have remembered the word of the aged Simeon: “...a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also....”

While dying on that cross, Jesus paid a great tribute to Mary. With pain wracking his body, one of his last acts was to see that his mother was cared for. We read in

John 19:26-27: “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

Thank God for such a wonderful role model for mothers - and thank the Lord for our mothers today. I was blessed with a great mother and a great mother-in-law, and I am blessed with a wonderful wife who is a great mother to our children, and an excellent grandmother to our grandchildren. There are many outstanding mothers, and grandmothers, and great grandmothers in this congregation, and many of you were blessed by having a superb mother. Some of our mothers are in heaven, but in other cases your mother is still living. I encourage you to pay proper tribute to her - not simply on this special day, but throughout the year. Show her that you love her - and, as you and I have often heard it said, the way you spell love is “T-I-M-E.”


But let me close by going back to the major point of this message: the way to be the right kind of mother - indeed, the way for any of us to be the right kind of person - is to surrender to God. If you’ve never done so, meet those two conditions set forth in Acts 20:21: “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you’re already saved, this would be a good time to make any needed course corrections in your life. I challenge you to confess your sins of disobedience as a believer, and to make a new beginning in following the Christ who gave his all for you.

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