Mary, the Mother of James and Joses

Mary, the Mother of James and Joses

We are told practically nothing about this particular Mary, save that she was the mother of two children one of whom Jesus chose as an apostle, namely, James (Matthew 27:55-61; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1; Luke 24:10, see Luke 23:49-56). Some writers identify her as “the other Mary” (Matthew 27:61), or as the wife of Cleopas or Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3; Luke 24:18), or as a sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We do know that she was one of the women who followed Jesus and, having sufficient wealth, ministered unto Him and His disciples in material things thereby assisting them in their work (Luke 8:2, 3). The narrative suggests that her two fine sons likewise followed her from Galilee to Jerusalem. “It is interesting to note that two mothers with their sons joined the company of the disciples and that three out of the four became members of the apostolic group.” We feel that Mary’s sons were older than Jesus else they probably would not have dared to interfere with Him by force (Mark 3:21). These facts are evident—

Mary was among the women from Galilee who followed Jesus to Jerusalem there to witness His death on the cross (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40).

She was likewise a spectator at the tomb and fled when told by the angels that Jesus was not there (Mark 16:8).

She was among the first to bear spices to anoint the dear dead body of her Lord, and with joy went forth to declare that He was alive forevermore.

She was the mother of a son who became an apostle, known as “James the Less,” or James the Little to distinguish him from the more conspicuous apostle of the same name. She thus sacrificed both her sustenance and her son for the service of the Master. Motivated by the inner urge of gratitude to Him for all He had done for her, she became generous, faithful, loving and true. Hers was a simple faith and a trusting love. Thousands of Christian women down the ages have been likened to her because she loved her Lord and served Him unobtrusively. Kuyper, comparing this Mary with Mary Magdalene by an analogy of our two types of letters, calls Mary Magdalene “a vowel” and Mary, the mother of the apostle, “a consonant.”

The same analogy holds if we compare Peter with James the Less. We should then name Peter, who always took the initiative, the vowel, and James, who always remained in the background, the consonant. This Mary and those other quiet women were very much like James. They were consonants, they harmoniously joined in with the song of love that was sung for Jesus, but they were not originally creative.

Then applying this analogy and pointing out that the world generally deems quiet, unobtrusive and ordinary service somewhat tame and unambitious, Kuyper goes on to remark—

But God’s scale of values weighs differently than ours does. In our alphabet, God gave us five vowels and twenty-one consonants. And He has given the human race very few people to assume the solo parts. To the many others He has granted only the capacity to harmonize when others lead in creation’s hymn of love and praise. That situation is quite appropriate. Only in that way can a supreme harmony be attained. A company of successive soloists would be repulsive to our aesthetic taste.

The question is, Am I content to be a consonant?