Imagine you had the opportunity to choose a woman who would be the mother of the Son of God. You not only knew her by her actions, but also by the intents of her heart. What kind of woman would you choose? God chose Mary of Nazareth to be the mother of His Son, the Savior of the world. God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary of His plan for her to conceive the Christ child.
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
To a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man
Whose name was Joseph,
Of the house of David;
And the virgin’s name was Mary.
The term espoused is not a familiar one today. The concept is foreign to us. When a woman was espoused to a man, it was similar to what we call engaged. However, it was more binding than an engagement. To be espoused was as binding as a marriage. To leave the arrangement, a couple would have to get a divorce. But the couple had not yet come together physically. They did not yet live together and they had not come together sexually. Mary was espoused to Joseph; they were already considered to be husband and wife, but they had not yet joined themselves in marriage. You might notice that espoused and wife, or espoused and husband, are used together or interchangeably. That’s confusing.
Joseph was a descendant of David, King of Israel. This fact might make you think Joseph was a wealthy man. On the contrary, Joseph was a poor carpenter.
And the angel said to her,
Fear not, Mary:
For you have found favor with God.
You shall conceive in your womb,
And bring forth a son,
And you shall call his name Jesus.
He shall be great,
And He shall be called the Son of the Highest:
And the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:
And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Mary asked a question.
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Luke 1:34
Gabriel didn’t take offense. It was an innocent question from an innocent young girl. She didn’t understand how she could have a child; she was a virgin. Gabriel patiently explained how Mary would conceive.
The Holy Ghost shall come upon you,
And the power of the Highest
Shall overshadow you:
Therefore, that holy thing
Which shall be born of you
Shall be called the Son of God.
Mary was willing to be a part of God’s plan. She was willing to be the servant of God.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
Be it unto me according to your word.
Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin Elisabeth was six months pregnant. What surprising news! Elisabeth was barren; she couldn’t have children. She was also quite elderly.
Behold, your cousin Elisabeth
Has also conceived a son in her old age:
This is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Mary left Nazareth to visit Elisabeth.
And Mary arose
And went into the hill country with haste,
Into a city of Judah;
She entered into the house of Zacharias,
and greeted Elisabeth. Luke 1:39-40
Something unexpected happened when Mary greeted Elisabeth.
When Elisabeth heard the greeting of Mary,
The babe leaped in her womb;
And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
And she spoke out with a loud voice,
Blessed are you among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And whence is this to me,
That the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For as soon as the voice of your greeting
Sounded in my ears,
The babe leaped for joy in my womb.
And blessed is she that believed:
For there shall be a performance of those things
Which were told her from the Lord.
Elisabeth’s words were inspired by the Holy Spirit. She spoke of the baby she herself carried and the holy child Mary carried. Mary praised the Lord.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He that is mighty has done to me great things;
Holy is His name.
His mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their seats,
And exalted them of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
In remembrance of his mercy;
As he spoken to our fathers, to Abraham,
And to his seed for ever. Luke 1:46-55
Each verse of Mary’s words of praise is a quote from the Old Testament. Mary believed God’s promises to Abraham. She knew of God’s ways and His character. She feared and reverenced Him.
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months.
Mary abode with her about three months,
And returned to her own house. Luke 1:56
When Mary returned to Nazareth, or soon after, she would have been noticeably pregnant. Joseph noticed. He decided to “put her away privately.” Since she had made a vow of commitment to Joseph, he could have had her stoned publicly. But Joseph was a kind man. He didn’t want Mary to be hurt. He would not take her for his wife, but he would not have her killed.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:
When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph,
Before they came together,
She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,
And not willing to make her a public example,
Thought to put her away privately.
God’s angel reassured Joseph in a dream.
While Joseph thought on these things,
The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream,
Saying, Joseph, son of David,
Fear not to take Mary as your wife:
For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son,
And you shall call his name Jesus:
For he shall save his people from their sins.
A census required Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem. The Scriptures revealed that the Redeemer was to be born in Bethlehem. Did Mary already know that? Had she wondered how that would come about?
And it came to pass in those days,
That there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus,
That all the world should be taxed.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
Joseph went from Galilee,
Out of the city of Nazareth,
Into Judaea, to the city of David,
Which is called Bethlehem;
(Because he was of the house and lineage of David)
Joseph went to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,
Who was great with child.
Nazareth was about 70 miles from Bethlehem. It must have been an uncomfortable journey for Mary, being so near delivery. Many other travelers were in Bethlehem for the census. Where could Joseph and Mary stay? There was no room in the inn. They stayed in a stable.
And so it was, that, while they were there,
The days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son,
And wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
And laid him in a manger;
Because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Christ child was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Prophesy had foretold these details.
And Joseph knew her not
Till she had brought forth her firstborn son:
And he called his name Jesus.
Jesus was not only conceived of a virgin, but also born of a virgin. This prophesy was also fulfilled.
Shepherds came to worship the baby. They said an angel had told them of the birth of the Savior.
There were in the same country
Shepherds abiding in the field,
Keeping watch over their flock by night.
And the angel of the Lord came upon them,
And the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
And they were sore afraid.
And the angel said to them, Fear not:
For I bring you good tidings of great joy,
Which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day
In the city of David
A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign to you;
You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
Lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel
A multitude of the heavenly host
Praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men.
The shepherds made known the things that had happened. But Mary kept all these things to herself and pondered them in her heart.
And when the shepherds had seen the babe,
They made known abroad the saying
Which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things
Which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things,
And pondered them in her heart.
According to God’s covenant with Abraham, all male babies were circumcised on the eighth day. It was also customary to name the child on that day.
The Lord said to Abraham
He that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you,
Every man child in your generations…
And my covenant shall be in your flesh
For an everlasting covenant.
Jesus was circumcised and named on the eighth day.
And when eight days were accomplished
For the circumcising of the child,
His name was called Jesus,
Which was so named of the angel
Before he was conceived in the womb.
The mother of a male child was unclean for forty days. On the forty-first day, a sacrifice was offered. Also on this day, the firstborn male child was presented to the Lord.
If a woman conceives,
And gives birth to a male child:
Then she shall be unclean seven days;
And in the eighth day the male child shall be circumcised.
And she shall then continue her purification thirty-three days;
When the days of her purification are fulfilled,
She shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering,
And a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering,
She shall bring these to the door
Of the tabernacle of the congregation,
To the priest:
The priest shall offer them before the Lord,
And make an atonement for her;
And she shall be cleansed.
If she is not able to bring a lamb,
Then she shall bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons;
The one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering:
And the priest shall make an atonement for her,
And she shall be clean.
From Leviticus 12:2-8
Mary offered two birds. She and Joseph were poor. They were not able to afford a lamb for the sacrifice.
And when the days of her purification…
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem,
To present him to the Lord;
And to offer a sacrifice according to the law of the Lord,
A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Luke 2:22, 24
While Joseph and Mary were at the temple, they encountered two special people, Simeon and Anna.
There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon;
He was just and devout,
Waiting for the consolation of Israel:
And the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit,
That he would not see death,
Before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit,
Simeon came into the temple.
When Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus,
To do for him after the custom of the law,
Simeon took Jesus up in his arms, and blessed God,
And said, Lord, now let your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word:
For my eyes have seen Your salvation…
And Joseph and his mother marveled
At the things he said.
And Simeon blessed them,
And said to Mary the 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;
(Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also,)
That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
At that moment, Anna came in
And she too gave thanks also to the Lord
And spoke of Him to all in Jerusalem,
Who looked for redemption.
Anna was a prophetess,
A descendant of Asher.
She was very old.
She had lived with her husband for seven years,
And she had been a widow for eighty-four years.
Now she never left the temple,
She served God night and day with prayer and fasting.
From Luke 2:36-38
It was revealed to these two special people that Jesus was the Christ, our Salvation and
…at the mouth of two witnesses
…shall the matter be established
Our God is a marvelous God. In the mouth of these two witnesses, He established that His Son had arrived. The long-awaited Messiah had come in the flesh.
After the sacrifice for purification and the presentation of the firstborn male to the Lord,
Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth with their child.
And when they had performed all things
according to the law of the Lord,
they returned into Galilee,
to their own city Nazareth.
Wise men came from the east and worshipped the young child and presented gifts.
And when they had come into the house,
The wise men saw the young child with Mary his mother,
And fell down, and worshipped him:
And when they had opened their treasures,
They presented to him gifts;
Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
After the wise men left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him
to take Mary and the child to Egypt. Herod the king would try to kill the child. Joseph got
up, took Mary and Jesus, and left for Egypt by night They had to leave immediately to
protect the child.
And when the wise men were departed,
Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream,
Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother,
And flee into Egypt,
Stay there until I bring you word:
Because Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When Joseph arose,
He took the young child and his mother
And departed into Egypt:
Maybe the gifts of the wise men provided for the expenses of the trip to Egypt and the stay there. Remember, Joseph and Mary were poor. God provided for their needs.
The angel had spoken truly. Herod did seek to kill the Christ child, the King of the Jews.
Then Herod…slew all the children that were in Bethlehem,
And in all the coasts thereof,
From two years old and under,
According to the time
Which Herod had diligently inquired of the wise men.
Even in Egypt the news would have been heard; Herod killed every child in Bethlehem and in all the coasts thereof – every child two years and under.
And Joseph was in Egypt until the death of Herod…
…When Herod was dead,
Behold, an angel of the Lord
Appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother,
And go into the land of Israel:
For they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
And Joseph (with Mary and Jesus)
came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth
The family went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. Deuteronomy 16 tells of three
feasts that all Jewish men must attend each year.
Three times in a year shall all your males
Appear before the Lord thy God
In the place which he shall choose;
In the feast of unleavened bread,
And in the feast of weeks,
And in the feast of tabernacles:
And they shall not appear before the Lord empty:
Passover is the first day of the week-long feast of the unleavened bread. Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem every year for the Passover feast. When Jesus was twelve years old,
the family again traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. There would have been a huge number of people in Jerusalem. There would have been a huge number of people leaving Jerusalem after the feast ended.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year
At the feast of the Passover.
And when Jesus was twelve years old,
They went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
And when they had fulfilled the days,
As they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem;
And Joseph and Mary did not know of it.
But they, supposing him to have been in the company,
Went a day’s journey;
And they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
And when they found him not,
They turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days
They found him in the temple,
Sitting in the midst of the doctors,
Both hearing them, and asking them questions.
And all that heard him were astonished
At his understanding and answers.
And when Joseph and Mary saw him, they were amazed:
And his mother said to him,
Son, why have you thus dealt with us?
Behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing.
And Jesus said to them,
Why is it that you sought me?
Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?
And they did not understand what he was saying to them.
And Jesus went down with his parents, and came to Nazareth,
And was subject to them.
Mary his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,
And in favor with God and man. Luke 2:41-52
Joseph and Mary had traveled all day before they realized Jesus was not among the
travelers. They searched for him for three days. Imagine how frantic the parents
would be. Mary said they sought him sorrowing.
Just after Jesus selected his disciples, there was a wedding in Cana. Jesus, his disciples,
and his mother were all at the marriage.
And there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
And the mother of Jesus was there:
And Jesus and his disciples were called to the marriage.
And when they wanted wine,
The mother of Jesus said to him,
They have no wine.
Jesus said to her,
Woman, what have I to do with thee?
My hour is not yet come.
His mother said to the servants,
Whatsoever he says to you, do it.
And there were set there six waterpots of stone,
After the manner of the purifying of the Jews,
Containing two or three firkins apiece.
Jesus said to them, Fill the waterpots with water.
And they filled them up to the brim.
And he said to them,
Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.
And they bare it.
When the ruler of the feast
Had tasted the water that was made wine,
And knew not whence it was:
(But the servants which drew the water knew;)
The governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
And said to him,
Every man at the beginning sets forth good wine;
And when men have well drunk,
Then he serves that which is worse:
But you have kept the good wine until now.
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,
And manifested forth his glory;
And his disciples believed on him.
After this he went down to Capernaum,
He, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples:
And they continued there not many days.
Joseph was not with the family. He probably died before Jesus began his ministry.
Mary saw Jesus suffer and die. Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled. The sorrow Mary felt
must have been so painful, as though her very soul had been pierced by a sword.
At the cross, we see glimpses of Mary.
Mary had a sister who was at the crucifixion with her.
Jesus told John to take care of Mary. From that hour John took Mary to his home.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother,
And his mother’s sister,
Mary the wife of Cleophas,
And Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus therefore saw his mother,
And the disciple standing by, whom he loved,
He said to his mother,
Woman, behold your son!
Then He said to the disciple,
Behold your mother!
And from that hour
that disciple took Mary to his own home.
Jesus hung on the cross for six hours – from 9am until 3pm. The sun was darkened from
noon until three.
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said,
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit:
And having said this, he gave up the ghost.
Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God,
Saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
And all the people that came together to that sight,
Beholding the things which were done,
Smote their breasts, and returned.
And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee,
Stood afar off, beholding these things.
Jesus died on the cross. Three days later he rose from the grave. Jesus is alive! Joy unspeakable!
To whom also Jesus showed himself alive after his passion
By many infallible proofs,
Being seen of them forty days,
And speaking of the things pertaining
To the kingdom of God:
After that, he was seen
By above five hundred brethren at once;
Of whom the greater part remain to this present time,
But some are dead.
1 Corinthians 15:6
Although the Bible does not specifically say, I feel sure Mary was among those who saw Jesus after his resurrection.
Jesus spent forty days on earth after His resurrection.
After forty days, Jesus ascended to Heaven.
After the ascension,
They returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet,
Which is a Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem.
And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room,
Where abode both Peter, and James, and John,
And Andrew, Philip, and Thomas,
Bartholomew, and Matthew,
James the son of Alphaeus,
And Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,
With the women, And Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. Acts 1:12-14
Imagine you had the opportunity to choose a woman who would be the mother of the Son of God. You not only knew her by her actions, but also by the intents of her heart. What kind of woman would you choose? God chose Mary of Nazareth to be the mother of His Son, the Savior of the world.