This essay considers the way in which St. Luke portrays Mary
The Virgin Mary is one of the most important religious icons in all of Christianity, and yet the Bible makes very little reference to her. Mark mentions her only once; and she appears only briefly in Matthew. It is in the Gospel according to Luke that she is most fully realized.
This paper discusses the way in which Mary is presented in this gospel, and argues that the presentation makes her seem to be the “first disciple.”
The term “first disciple” is from the Boston Theological Seminary website, which is kept current. In their discussion of the way Luke presents Mary, the theologians point out that she has undergone a “transformation” from the way she was portrayed in Matthew. The first thing of note is that St. Paul doesn’t mention Mary in his letters at all; and Mark puts both Mary and Jesus’ relatives “outside the circle of the disciples during Jesus’ public ministry.” (PG).
According to both Paul and Mark, then, Mary is not presented as anyone special.
Matthew was a bit kinder to her than Paul and Mark, because he knew of the tradition of the virgin birth. This made his gospel “less negative about Mary” that Mark’s writings.
When it comes to Luke, things change dramatically. In Matthew, the focus is almost entirely on Joseph:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream …” (Matthew 1: 18-20).
The birth narratives of the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John are versions of the stories of the Messiah’s birth. They are not exactly the same. John’s gospel doesn’t even give word of the virgin birth. In Biblical Theology class, we remembered each birth narrative as “the one with the shepherds,” or “the one with the wise men.” Matthew’s gospel ...
The angel of course told Joseph that his wife was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and that the child would be called Jesus, and that he was not to be with her until after the child was born. Thus, the annunciation as told here is really about Joseph, not Mary. (Still, considering the times in which they lived, he has to be credited with a great deal of courage in standing by a young woman who is pregnant before they lie together.)
In Luke, however, the entire story is told from her perspective. We read:
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.’” (Luke I: 26-31).
Mary wondered how this could be, since she had no husband, but the angel reassured her that the Holy Spirit would conceive the child, and as further proof, told her that her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was old and barren, had conceived by the grace of God. At that, Mary said “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke I: 38).
According to the Boston Theological Seminary, this acceptance gives Mary a unique status. “Luke thus presents Mary as the first (earliest) Christian disciple. She is the model for what every believer should be: totally open to hear the Good News, and completely giving herself in obedience to it.” (“Luke’s Gospel and His Acts of the Apostles,” PG).
This acceptance deserves a second look. Although today an unmarried girl who gets pregnant is not unusual, in Mary’s time it was a shameful, even disastrous, occurrence. She was merely a teenager and she was being told that she would become pregnant and bear a child before she had a husband. This would have caused immense difficulties for her with her family, her townspeople, and certainly with Joseph. And yet all she says is “Let it be to me according to your word.” This is an example of perfect, unswerving faith and complete obedience, the type of obedience needed by the disciples, and thus it’s easy to see why so many sources refer to Mary as the First Disciple.
Each of the four evangelists had a particular slant to their writing:- One could say that Mark was a brief account of the preaching of Peter. John’s Gospel was written “that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Matthew was written for Jews to show how Jesus’ teaching ...
In Chapter 2, verses 33-36, we read that a sword will pierce people’s souls, Mary’s included, to determine whether she and others are true believers willing to follow Christ, or not. It’s suggested that Luke doesn’t describe any specific incident that would qualify as such a “test,” but that Mary’s life-long commitment to her son and his ministry is proof positive of her devotion, as well as her ability to grow: “Luke also implies that being a disciple means lifelong growth and change: ‘And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19).” (“Luke’s Gospel and His Acts of the Apostles,” PG).
Thus we see Mary accepting the Word of God and obeying it when the angel first comes to her; next she remains faithful during Jesus’ ministry, earning praise as “one of those who hear the word of God and do it”; and after the death, resurrection and ascension of her son, she remains steadfast. Luke’s presentation of Mary “thus makes her the most consistently faithful disciple in the entire Gospel tradition.” (“Luke’s Gospel and His Acts of the Apostles,” PG).
As a brief aside, another source mentions the Gospel of Luke as the “Gospel for women,” noting that there are three parables in which women play the central role. The women are actively seeking solutions to their own problems, and because they are the ones taking action, they offer hope to all women that they can be more than just a “helpmeet” to the man in their life. “In a gospel that gives a mixed message about women, each of these parables offers a bold portrait of the female face of God.” (Reid, PG).
Returning the Mary herself, another source tells us that Luke considered her the First Disciple: “In 1978, twelve prominent Protestant and Catholic scripture scholars composed a book, Mary in the New Testament, hoping to articulate those scriptural points concerning Mary with which Protestants and Catholics could agree upon. They asserted: ‘She is a believer for whom God’s word is enough. For Luke she is the first Christian disciple.’” (Wiseman, PG).
English 202 Rob Ellis Life? s A Beach The Divine Tragedy Sometimes it takes a different perspective for someone to see the reality of how things are handled, and Marquez? s insights into the way "Mainstream Religion' has dragged God and Christianity through the mud to the point of non-recognition. This is illustrated by Pelayo and Elisenda? s not even seeing the wings in the beginning. My end goal ...
The more we consider Mary, the more interesting she becomes. It seems that she is too often seen as a passive, yielding figure whose true glory is found only in the fact that she gave birth to Jesus. But she is far more than an overawed teenager who wilts in fear when the angel appears. She is startled, of course—who wouldn’t be, if an angel appeared in the living room?—let alone the fact that he came with the message that she had found favor with God and would bear his son. But in spite of her momentary fright, and the awe in which she no doubt holds this heavenly creature, she still has the spunk to ask questions. She asks the angel how this can be, since she has no husband. She means either: how can I be pregnant since I haven’t slept with anyone; or how will God make this happen, since I am not to be allowed to be with my husband? “What the Angel announced was supernatural. A miracle. The response can be either (1) miracles just don’t happen, so prove it to me (1:18), the response of unbelief, or (2) Wow! That’s amazing! How will it happen? the response of wonder and faith.” (Wilson, PG).
Mary’s response is that of wonder and faith, even though the angel’s answer is hardly explicit. He says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” (Luke I: 35).
This really tells her nothing, but she accepts it. This acceptance of the supernatural without complete understanding of the process, and yet retaining the intelligence and bravery to question God’s purpose is characteristic of the apostles. After all, it was Thomas who refused to believe in the risen Christ until he had put his hand in the wound. Mary shows much of that same sort of tough faith here, and it is this combination of characteristics that have led many theologians to proclaim her the First Apostle.
Mary as found in the Gospel according to St. Luke is very much more interesting than she is in Matthew or Mark. Here she is the center of the story of the Annunciation, which is seen from her perspective. In addition, she has both the wit and courage to question the angel; when he tells her that she is faced with a miracle, she accepts it. Thus she combines a tough mind with a generous spirit, the very qualities so necessary for a disciple. It is this combination that has led so many to consider that Luke portrays her as the First Disciple.
In the movie that we saw during class was about Mary, Mother of Jesus. The following essay will answer the question of Mary's understanding of her role and her understanding of who Jesus was and who he was going to be. Mary, at times in this movie was extremely confused about things that were happening to her. For example, the first time that God talked to her she was confused; she didn't know ...
“Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.” Boston Theological Seminary [web site]. 2003. Accessed: 2 May 2003.
Reid, Barbara E. “Beyond Petty Pursuits and Wearisome Widows: Three Lukan Parables.” Interpretation July 2002: 284-296. Retrieved 2 May 2003 from The Gale Group, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, CA:
Wilson, Ralph F. “Mary’s First Lesson in Discipleship.” JesusWalk, Disciple Lessons from Luke’s Gospel [Web site]. 2003. Accessed: 2 May 2003. http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/1_26-38.htm
Wiseman, Vincent. “The Blessed Virgin Mary—October Homily.” [Web page]. October 2000. Accessed: 2 May 2003. http://www.pressroom.com/~freeman/stpeters/octtext.html