Two of the other Marys are mothers known by their sons. The first Mary was mother of James the apostle, also known as James the Lesser, and another son named Joses. The next Mary was mother of John Mark who traveled with Paul. The last Mary was Mary of Rome.
The first time we’re introduced to Mary the mother of James and Joses is at Calvary. Matthew and Mark both mention that she was among the women standing off at a distance observing the crucifixion of Jesus.
Matthew 27:55-56 tells us, “And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”
Mark includes her with Mary Magdelene and Salome when they went to annoint Jesus’ body in the tomb, and Luke says that she, along with Mary Magdelene, Joanna, and other women told the apostles all that they witnessed at the tomb.
We talked a bit about Mary, Mother of John Mark, last week. It was at Mary’s house that the believers gathered to pray for Peter’s release, and it was her servant girl Rhoda who forgot to let him in. Her son John Mark was the author of the book of Mark. Bible scholars speculate that she was the aunt or sister of Barnabas.
The final Mary is Mary of Rome. She’s mentioned but once. In Paul’s greeting of saints in Romans 16, he lists Mary in verse 6, letting us know that Mary labored much for Paul and the church.
The Rest of the Story
Each of these women worked quietly in the shadows. None of them called attention to themselves, but rather served quietly wherever they saw a need.
The first two Marys raised up sons who served the Lord. They obviously had good relationships with their sons since they all traveled together with Jesus. These women were respected by the other disciples who made a point to include them in their biblical accounts. Unlike Salome, they didn’t ask for special privilege for their sons.
The two Marys were wealthy. Mary, Mother of James and Joses, contributed to the care of Jesus and His disciples as they traveled from town to town. Mary, Mother of John Mark, opened her home to the disciples and early church. Some scholars think that it was at Mary’s house where they held the Last Supper.
We know almost nothing about Mary of Rome except that she was in Rome with a Jewish name. Was she a Jew living in Rome? Was she a Roman who adopted a Jewish name after she got saved? We have no way of knowing.
All we have is one verse about Mary of Rome.
The King James Version of Romans 16:6 says, “Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.” The NIV says, “Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.” Christian Standard and Holman Standard also say, “Greet Mary, who has worked very hard for you.”
So who did Mary help – Paul for the Roman church? Sounds like Mary worked hard for both Paul and the Roman church.
What did she do? We don’t know. But whatever she did, she made an impact on Paul and the early Christians.
Six Marys in the Bible, each one with their own job to do and their own story to share. Mary Mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdelene are all Hall of Fame Bible women known for their dramatic interactions with Jesus. It’s easy for us to envy them, to wish that we, too, could be bigger than life and do great things in a bold manner. But we can’t all be the mother of the savior, a sister to a resurrected man, or a woman healed from a multitude of demons.
More likely we’re called to be like the three other Marys, ordinary women going about our day to day lives, quietly serving God in the shadows. We may never get the recognition and attention we long for, but that doesn’t mean our work is in vain. Just as God saw the ministries of Mary, Mother of James and Joses, Mary, Mother of John Mark, and Mary of Rome, He sees you. He sees what you do when no one else is around. He notices when you think no one cares. He wants you to know you matter to Him and He appreciates what you do.
Lord God, thank You for Your love for each of us. Thank You for the opportunities You provide for us to serve You. Forgive us those times we get caught up in our own importance and forget that we are called to serve not to be celebrated. Give us wisdom and direction in all that we do. Steer us away from anything that might come between us and You. Thank You for always seeing, always noticing what each of Your children are doing. We love You so very much! In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at Lydia, an early convert and evangelist.
Their Stories: Matthew 27:55-56: Mark 15:40-47; Luke 16:1-12; Acts 12:1-19; Romans 16:1-12
Bible Study Review
- Which Mary traveled around with Jesus?
- Which Mary opened her house to the early church?
- Which Mary worked hard with Paul?
Thoughts to Ponder
- What impact did the Marys have on their sons?
- How did the Marys serve their Lord?
- What sacrifices might they have made because of their relationship with Jesus?
- How are you like/dislike the other Marys?
- Do you have a hard time serving in the background?
- Are you willing to serve without recognition?
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