Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Watch! The virgin is conceiving a child, and will give birth to a son, and his name will be called Immanuel.
— Isaiah 7:14, (ISV)
The community of Christian faith worldwide knows her as the finest woman who ever lived. Born in obscurity to a distant descendant of Israel’s magnificent King David, Christians believe Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, was honored by the Creator of the Universe to be the person through whom God himself would visit his own Creation, reconciling his people to himself.
No matter what you may have thought you knew before about this first century paragon of virtue and faith, there is a good possibility you have been misinformed about her. In fact, chances are you have been wrong from the start about the most remarkable woman who ever walked the dusty roads of first century Israel during the height of the Roman Empire’s domination over the Middle East.
Mary Isn’t Who You Think She Is
More than 20 centuries have come and gone since a teenaged virgin became the mother of God’s incarnate Son. As a result, far too much myth has grown up around the person and story surrounding the woman who became one of the foundational figures of human history. What the New Testament records themselves tell us about the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is fascinating enough in its own right that we can learn a lot from studying what the New Testament says about her without getting embroiled in two thousand years of extraneous ecclesiastical convention.
In this work, we will try to pull back the dusty curtain of historically inaccurate tradition to introduce you to the very human, but utterly magnificent character of Mary, the mother of the Messiah, as she struggles to pass Ten Test Questions. The questions are presented to her in the passages recorded in the New Testament that mention her. Each of these 10 spiritual challenges provides a fresh new opportunity to refine her faith and trust in God.
As we will see in our study, Mary the mother of Jesus of Nazareth passed nine out of the 10 tests splendidly. She stumbled in her faith only once, but in the end prevailed, obtaining an astonishing 95 percent on her series of spiritual tests of her faith and obedience to God’s plans and purposes for her life.
In our analysis that follows of every passage recorded in the New Testament in which Mary is referred to or mentioned by name, you’ll learn why the mother of the world’s most famous rabbi from Nazareth rose from literal obscurity to become one of the greatest pivotal figures in all of human history, treasured by millions of people throughout the centuries, and fulfilling Mary’s prophecy recorded in Luke 1:48 that “from now on, all generations will call me blessed.”
You will read in our new book a comprehensive analysis of what Mary went through in her walk with God, starting with the day she received the angel Gabriel as her guest and listened to what God had in store for her life.
Here is a listing of all 10 test questions that were put to her over the next three and a half decades or so of her young life, starting from Gabriel’s visit and continuing through her teen years until the day of Pentecost after the death of her promised son. The circumstances of her life as told to us in the narrative of the New Testament Gospels tell us Mary was asked to respond with an answer to the following test challenges:
- Test #1: Are you willing to trust God with your whole life?
- Test #2: Are you willing to give God your expectations about your life?
- Test #3 Are you willing to walk with God into heartbreak?
- Test #4: Will you give God your illusion of personal security?
- Test #5: Will you give your most important possessions to God?
- Test #6: How will you bear the loss of your spouse?
- Test #7: Will you remember who Jesus really is?
- Test #8: Will you believe what God has said about the Messiah?
- Test #9: Will you give your dreams about your child to God?
- Test #10: Are you willing to wait on God to fulfill his promises for your life?
The overwhelming evidence provided to us by the testimony of the four evangelists Matthew, John Mark, Luke, and John is that she passed all the test questions that were placed before her except for one (we will let you read our book to find out which one it was!). Even in the case of this test, it is clear from the evidence, her lapse was a temporary one.
Given the overall testimony of her life, it comes as no surprise the early Church held her in such high esteem. While the Protestant community of Christian faith disagrees with some of the legends that have grown up over the centuries, resulting in the Protestant community viewing Roman Catholicism of having an overstated view of her place in the plan of God, nevertheless both Roman Catholic and Protestant believers in the Lord Jesus the Messiah may say with one voice that Mary’s magnificent poem of praise to God has been abundantly fulfilled throughout the centuries since generations all over the earth have called her blessed.
The real life of Mary needs no mythology… it was filled with adventure, danger, heartbreak and hope.
Being at the center of God’s plan to bring salvation to the world was a rough road for a young lady to walk, but walk it she did, with dignity and trust in the One True God. She was ostracized by her own who did not understand, hunted by the most brutal mass murderer of the day, slandered and disrespected by neighbors, and saved time and again by the loving protection of God. Walking in the will of God can be a daunting journey, but with God, the outcome is never in doubt. The story of Mary will encourage readers who, like her, may be walking a rough road.
Perhaps you have lost a spouse or a child? Are you grieved because you have been rejected by those who should care about you? Does it sometimes seem like the whole world is lined up against you? Then take comfort in the story of Mary.
The Christmas story is precious to the hearts of millions, but how many know the real truth about the Star of Bethlehem? What really happened in Jerusalem that drove Herod to an insane rage to hunt down and kill the Christ child?
And what was it about the quiet demeanor of young Mary that God chose her to be part of the most dramatic rescue mission in human history?
Our new book asks 10 questions that probe the life and attitudes of Mary. They are questions all believers should ask of their own spiritual walk.
How will you do as you apply these 10 questions to your own life? Be prepared! Because honestly delving into Ten Test Questions for the World’s Finest Woman will give you a vigorous spiritual tune up.
About Dr. Welty
William P. Welty is the Executive Director of the ISV Foundation of Bellflower, California, producers of the Holy Bible: International Standard Version. He is a graduate (M.Div., 1978) of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Deerfield, Illinois and holds a Ph.D. degree in Christian Communications (2005) from Louisiana Baptist University. Dr. Welty is a member of the Board of Directors of Koinonia House and has been asked to serve as Scholar in Residence on the faculty of the Koinonia Institute, which has offices in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Reporoa, New Zealand.