So far this week, we've focused on Mark's mom, Mary, as she raised her son and was a great example and influence on him. Today, as we conclude our study, I'd like to focus on Mary herself.
We've talked before about how different things were in the times of the early church. Women didn't have as much value or prestige as they do now, and it was especially so for widows. The poor widows were completely destitute unless there was some member of their family who would take them in and provide for them.
Widows were to be pitied. Even if they had been left with considerable wealth, they would seem to have no purpose, and certainly had no power. In the ancient world, women had value primarily through their husbands or fathers, and widows lost that connection. As a woman of wealth, Mary would have had a leading role in supporting her husband's affairs. But now he was dead. To many, she was now a nobody.
But then Jesus came.
His message must have been so empowering to Mary! She was a nobody no longer! In the world, she was "just a widow," but in God's kingdom she could use her wealth, her talents, her skills, and her gifts to serve other believers. She could be a force for good, and glorify God.
How did she do this?
I believe she must have been a pretty organized, efficient person!
First she looked at the "outside" things.....She and Barnabas looked at the inventory of what they had, and he decided to sell that piece of land that was worth a good bit of money. That could have been a nice source of security for both of them, but they were believers now, and they realized that their security was in Christ, not in possessions. Barnabas took the money from that sale and asked the church elders to use it to help the members of the church who badly needed assistance.
Next, she looked at what else she had......how about the house? Sell it, too? Wait! Such a large house was a perfect gathering place for prayers and for worship. The church in Jerusalem could make use of it -- and she had servants that would make all of this hospitality possible.
Then she looked "inside." What could she give of herself? She was already making arrangements to give of her time and the use of her home. But the tramp, tramp of Herod's soldiers' feet, and the rattling of their pikes and sabers could be heard daily in the streets. And Herod had just recently executed the apostle James. From within herself, and with her hand firmly in the Lord's hand, she found the courage to host the prayer gathering when Peter had been tossed into the jail. She could easily have lost her home, her servants, her possessions, and even her own freedom for doing this, but she courageously flung her doors open to the believers who wanted to come.
Last, Mary offered God her son -- besides her own soul and her devotion, this was the most precious thing she could give to God. I can only imagine how her courage was tested as she watched him leave on the journey with Paul and Barnabas, and then again on the second journey, too. Paul may have been concerned about Mark's returning to Jerusalem on the first trip, but when he was in prison, Paul wrote that he'd like for John Mark to come to him:
(II Timothy 4:11)Mary must have prayed a lot as her son traveled! But she trusted God to keep him safe and give him the opportunity to glorify Jesus.
Can Mary be an example to us? Does the world tell us as women, as Christians, or as seniors, that we don't have as important a purpose as those younger folks around us? In God's kingdom we have power, and we have wisdom to give others. There is a purpose -- a high calling, indeed!
Perhaps we should (as Mary did) look "outside" and "inside" to see if there are resources and talents that we can offer. It doesn't have to be money! It can be time, or expertise, or talents that we can offer. And don't forget, we can pray for our loved ones, that they will be used of God, and they can glorify Him!