Sorting out the Marys

By KB Jevalois

Sorting out the Marys


How many Marys are there in the New Testament and why so many of them?


There are actually 6 of them.  The reason why there are so many is that it is a New Testament version of a famous Old Testament name – Miriam. But also as a parable.


Although the sister of Moses was a contentious, out-going and rebellious woman, she was remembered among the Israelites as a bold and brave poetess.


There is an element of tragedy associated with the character through her sufferings and the meaning of her name.  These were carried on to further generations and these characteristics of boldness, pluckiness, sensitivity and lamentative demeanour. A person who understands all emotions is unafraid of any of them.


Mary – The Mother of Jesus.


She had other children following the birth of Jesus and was sometimes refered to the mother of them, Lk 24:10, Mk 15:40, Mt 13:55. Three instances capture this woman’s character and walk before God.


At the announcement of the birth of Christ – Lk 1

This incident in the life of Mary brings out her inclination to think Mary’s way instead of God’s. Gabriel reminds her of God’s history of not viewing things as impossibly as she does. The experience humbled Mary and she became a ‘with’ God thinker.  In her conclusion she used two very insightful phrases.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord (1 Sam 1)

According to thy word (Psa 119)


With Elizabeth - Lk 1:46-55

In an incredible outpouring of praise and wonder Mary show’s her new character openly. She calls to rememberance just about every woman in scripture and quote after quote of the exactitude of God’s plan for salvation. Psa 34, Isa 61.


At the foot of the cross - Jn 19.

From behold thou shalt conceive to Woman, behold thy son. Despite the agaony of watching her son die, Christ relieves her of the burden of motherhood from him to John. Christ once said, ‘Who is my mother and who are my brethren?’ It was Mary who finally answered this! Acts 1:13-24


Mary – Of Magdala.


Magdala was a fishing town on the east of the Sea of Galilee. The locals were not very receptive of the Gospel, with the exception of Mary, Joanna and Susanna (Lk 8) who appear to be wealthy enough to volunteer ‘substance’ to Christ and the disciples. It was probably during this visit that Christ had healed Mary.


We hear nothing else of her until the crucifixion. It is there and subsequently at the resurrection that we discover the character of a faithful friend.


She mixes her language on that occasion with a lot of words from the Master and shows herself a living example of a swept, then filled house fit for Godly purposes. She was childlike in her trust, totally loyal, totally throwing her life at the mercy of the Lord.


Mary – Sister of Lazarus


For the amount we know of this thoughtful disciple Mary, it is surprising that in the Gospel records we hear but a mere 9 words!  This Mary is made large in our impressions almost entirely by actions alone.


The names of these two sisters are significant, Mary ‘rebellious’, Martha ‘she was rebellious’.


It was Martha who declared, “I believe that thou art the Christ (the Anointed).” …But it was Mary who anointed him. Jn 12. 


Hearkening was a characteristic of this Mary.  She sat and listened to her Lord, then she put what she had heard in to action. Despite the ‘bitterness’ in her life she was grateful for the work that Christ did to change her circumstances and sought to heed in deed.


Mary – Wife of Cleophas


We hear only the once of this Mary. She was obviously close to the family of Jesus but it is doubtful that she was his mother’s sister Jn 19:25.


Cleophas is not mentioned elsewhere, but there was a Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. Some contend that this was the same person, others that it was Peter. Another view is that it is Alphaeus, said to be father of Levi (Matthew) and elsewhere James and Judas, therefore James the less, therefore husband of Mary the mother of Jesus… and is consequently beside ‘herself’ in this verse, quite literally!


For now the best we can say is that she was not a relative but a loyal friend and related by marriage to a man called Cleophas.


Mary – Mother of John Mark.


A hospitable woman who was hosting or sheltering the disciples when Peter was in Prison. She was the sister of Barnabas and therefore probably a Cypriot Jew of the tribe of Levi. Acts 12:12 & Acts 4:36 & Acts 15:39.


Mary – Sister at Rome.


Her labours for her brethren and sisters knew no limit – even to her own detriment she served. Rm 16:6


That so many faithful women had the same name is a glorious model of the individual characteristics of the role of a bride - fit, loyal and ready for her husband.

Matthew 1:16      And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom                         was born Jesus, who is called Christ.


Matthew 1:18      Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his                   mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came                        together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.


Matthew 1:20      But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of                     the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph,                                     thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:                                for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.


Matthew 2:11      And when they were come into the house, they saw the                                         young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and                                        worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures,                   they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and                     myrrh.


Matthew 13:55    Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called                                         Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and                  Judas?


Matthew 27:56    Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother                    of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.


Matthew 27:61    And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary,                                            sitting over against the sepulchre.


Matthew 28:1      In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the                       first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other                    Mary to see the sepulchre.


Mark 6:3             Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of                                      James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his                   sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.


Mark 15:40         There were also women looking on afar off: among whom                    was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the                      less and of Joses, and Salome;


Mark 15:47         And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld                   where he was laid.


Mark 16:1           And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and                                           Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet                  spices, that they might come and anoint him.


Mark 16:9           Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week,                      he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had                    cast seven devils.


Luke 1:27            To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of                     the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.


Luke 1:30            And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast                    found favour with God.


Luke 1:34            Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I                     know not a man?


Luke 1:38            And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it                                          unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed                                     from her.


Luke 1:39            And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill                                             country with haste, into a city of Juda;


Luke 1:41            And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the                                              salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and                                         Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:


Luke 1:46            And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,


Luke 1:56            And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned                   to her own house.


Luke 2:5              To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with                     child.


Luke 2:16            And they came with haste, and found Mary, and                                    Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.


Luke 2:19            But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in                                            her heart.


Luke 2:34            And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his                                  mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising                                        again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be                                             spoken against;


Luke 8:2              And certain women, which had been healed of evil                                                spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of                                         whom went seven devils,


Luke 10:39          And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at                                 Jesus' feet, and heard his word.


Luke 10:42          But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that                                             good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


Luke 24:10          It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the                                                mother of James, and other women that were with                                             them, which told these things unto the apostles.


John 11:1            Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of                                     Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.


John 11:2            (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with                                    ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose                                  brother Lazarus was sick.)


John 11:19          And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to                                             comfort them concerning their brother.


John 11:20          Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming,                     went and met him: but Mary sat [still] in the house.


John 11:28          And when she had so said, she went her way, and                                   called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is                                         come, and calleth for thee.


John 11:31          The Jews then which were with her in the house, and                                             comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up                                        hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth                                             unto the grave to weep there.


John 11:32          Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw                                             him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if                                     thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.


John 11:45          Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had                                           seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.


John 12:3            Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard,                                              very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped                                        his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the                                          odour of the ointment.


John 19:25          Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and                                           his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and                                            Mary Magdalene.


John 20:1            The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene                                               early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and                                           seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.


John 20:11          But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and                                           as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the                                            sepulchre,


John 20:16          Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and                                 saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.


John 20:18          Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she                                             had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things                                      unto her.


Acts 1:14             These all continued with one accord in prayer and                                 supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of                                     Jesus, and with his brethren.


Acts 12:12           And when he had considered the thing, he came to the                                          house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was                                     Mark; where many were gathered together praying.


Romans 16:6        Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.