MARY BLESSED AMONG WOMEN
The Makarioi are the dispensers of God’s blessings to mankind and Mary gave to the world the greatest gift, her Son our Savior. One of the most stunning words in the Gospels came from the lips of Elizabeth, cousin to Mary mother of Jesus. We begin our study with Mary because she was chosen to bring the Savior into the world. Elizabeth, being filled with the Holy Spirit, welcomed Mary into her home with these words, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk. 1:42). Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the first member of the “Makarioi” family.
The words for “blessed” here are not “makaria” but “eulogemene” and eulogemenos.” They were an awesome greeting and praise of a young lady who was about to become a mother. Elizabeth invoked a blessing upon her cousin for the very special fruit she was nurturing in her womb. Mary was to be the mother of the most important man who ever walked this earth, namely Jesus the Christ or Savior of mankind. The awesome admiration Elizabeth had for her young cousin, were concluded with the word “makaria,” “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has told her will come to pass” (Lk.1: 45).
Elizabeth called her cousin Mary a woman. The Hebrew word is “almah” and the natural way of addressing a woman with “child.” Mathew and Luke tell us that Mary was a virgin and her baby was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. The Prophet did not use the word “bethula” (virgin) but the word “almah” (woman). Elizabeth, apparently, did not know how Mary became pregnant. Joseph could not deny that he was the father. To impregnate a virgin was a capital crime in Israel. Had he fled from the situation, he would have been pursued and slain. A woman that had an affair could be stoned but not a virgin. Virgins were highly regarded and in great demand. Families of fame wanted virgins for their sons to bear clean and holy children that would continue their names. It did not dawn on them that a promiscuous male may not produce healthy offspring. In most cases the virgin would be blamed and even pay with her life. The incident between Judah and Tamar is and example. Judah had refused to Tamar his third son by law after the first two had died. Tamar seduced her father – in law and became pregnant. When Judah wanted her stoned, Tamar produced his seal, cord and staff as being the father of her child.
The first Christians could not accept a mere man to be the father of the Savior. Sin was too heinous to be solved by a mere earthling. It had to be the work of the Holy Spirit or of God. For that reason alone, Mary had to be a virgin and not just a young woman. The Greek translators of the Old Testament, and so did the New Testament writers understood Isaiah 7:14 to be a virgin – a “parthenos.” The Jewish Christians were apprehensive about God mingling with a female human. For the Greeks it was less of a problem because they already had a legend about Dionysus who was the product of a god courting a maiden. The Latin’s welcomed the virgin concept and lifted Mary into a mediating position between Jesus and man. She did and still does deserve recognition for having been willing to be the handmaid of God by whom He communicated in person to His fallen image, namely man. It was an enormous courage and risk to become pregnant in such a mysterious way by a spirit in a world that regarded such activity as demonic. The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of operating under Beelzebub when He claimed to have the Spirit of God.
It was not just the theology of salvation that required a virgin. It should also be essential for every woman that wants to be a mother. It is not without reason that cleanliness is close to godliness. Mary has set a noble example for all women, and for men too. God rewards clean and holy parents with healthy and famed children. Staying healthy does not begin with a physician but with being a virgin, both male and female. Even Christians are expected to live like virgins – in fact like wise virgins. God in heaven is surrounded with male virgins. It is God’s vision for men, only man keeps insisting that he cannot live up to it. Mary did and so shall every woman that wants to live like a virgin.
The greatest fulfillment in Holy Writ is that of being a mother. It was a woman’s greatest duty and honor. She was the envy of those who had no children. What is so overwhelming is that even God depended on a woman in order to bring his only earthly Son into the world. The Creator Himself has made the woman the only means by which the human race can be sustained and continued. This in itself is a sobering thought. Every modern woman who has put motherhood into her closet to be revived at a more convenient time should study the life of Mary the mother of Jesus. It will prove to every woman that no matter how the child is conceived, it has the right to be born and leave its mark on the world. It will also show that the fruit of a woman’s womb is holy unto the Lord and it is His gift to her. She, at best, is only the Lord’s handmaid. She receives the seed and her womb gives it the environment that makes human life possible. Life is in the seed, and the womb of the woman has the ovum that shapes into a human being. Man should realize that they carry the spark that ignites the ovum and not the woman. Both will be held accountable for their use and abuse of the reproductive organs.
Our story begins in an obscure village called Nazareth. It was a place where people would move to hide from public notice. Later on, Jesus’ family would return to this out of the way village to hide from the Herod’s or kings who had sought Jesus’ life when he was a baby. No one of any importance had ever come from Nazareth and it was commonly believed that nothing worthwhile could. Yet, it was to this town that God dispatched his messenger. He was on the lookout for a woman who would be willing to bring forth a child that in the eyes of the world was illegitimate. Can we possibly grasp what that must have meant to a young virgin at a time when such occurrences were a disgrace? Perhaps this is why God chose a small and obscure place where Mary’s pregnancy would not be publicized.
Nazareth had a very special young virgin. She was pure, holy and obviously religious. Mary knew the Lord and was willing to be obedient to the angel’s instruction to be the mother of God’s Anointed. She was puzzled over how she could become a mother without being married. To her, it was wrong to bear children out of wedlock. But when she became pregnant, she accepted her role with dignity in respect for the fruit of her womb. The child in her was more deserving of life than she was herself. Regardless of her conception of the child, she was to be the Lord’s Bride. And she knew what it would mean to Joseph her fiancé. She must have expected him of wanting to sever his engagement with her quietly and quickly. Fortunately, with the Lord’s coaxing, Joseph was willing to become a foster father.
It is my belief that God still prefers foster parents to abortion and He will coax enough men to be such guardians over those unwanted little ones. To the Almighty, the fruit in the womb is a living being and it comes first. He holds both, mother and father responsible for the life of that baby. He wants them alive and not dead. It is He alone who maintains the right to determine whether a baby lives or dies. And He alone knows what that baby will become. Heaven forbid, but just think if Mary had entertained the attitude of the abortionists what the consequences would have been? The world would never have had a Savior. Then add to your conscience the fact that every abortion not only destroys a human life, but also may rob the rest of humanity of leaders that could rescue our world from self-destruction. And if that does not pierce our hearts then are we not doing what king Herod did, killing babies so he could stay on the throne?