Mary lived with her family in the town of Nazareth. They were a poor family living in a town with a poor reputation. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” was the popular sentiment of the day. They were descendants of King David through David’s son Nathan, but since the Romans were in control very few of the Jewish royal family were affluent.
Mary was a young girl, a virgin. We don’t know her age. Some believe she may have been as young as fourteen years old; others say she was older. The Bible, however, does not give her age. She was a loving, caring girl with a servant’s heart. She was a thankful, trusting person, too. She was obedient both to her parents and her God. She was a normal, young Jewish girl with dreams of being a good wife and mother.
Mary’s parents were godly people who made sure Mary also knew God and loved Him. They taught her the Holy Scriptures. Because of this Mary was highly favored by God.
Mary was espoused to a man named Joseph, a godly man who also loved God, when she entertained a special visitor. The angel Gabriel was sent by God to give a special message to Mary. Gabriel said that God was with Mary and that she was blessed among women. Gabriel revealed that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary knew all the prophesies about the Messiah. She probably hoped that she would be the one to give him life, but she was still surprised and probably stunned to hear that she was the one chosen by God to bear His Son. She was willing to be used by God but questioned how this was to come about. She was a virgin. She never had sex with any man. So how was she to have this baby? Gabriel explained that God would take care of everything, and Mary understood that this impregnation would occur without the help of a man. Mary must have wondered what other people would think of her. Here she would be pregnant without a husband. Oh, how the gossip would fly. And what would Joseph think? Would he leave her? Would he divorce her? Would he make an example of her and cause her to go before the judges? She knew that God’s law said adulteresses should be put to death. But Mary’s faith and trust in God shone forth. She knew if God called her to carry His Son then He would take care of her even if the whole world were against her.
Mary was a loving, caring girl with a servant’s heart as evidenced by what she did when she heard that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant. Mary, being pregnant herself, left her home and stayed with Elizabeth and her husband for three months helping them with the housework, with the work in the fields, with everything imaginable. Elizabeth’s pregnancy, like Mary’s, was a miraculous pregnancy. Elizabeth and her husband were too old to have children; yet God intervened and caused them to have a child.
Mary was a faithful girl, faithful to her God and faithful to her husband. Instead of staying in Nazareth when the Romans made Joseph go to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, where she could have had her baby in a warm house, Mary went with Joseph on the rough, possibly even dangerous trip to Bethlehem; and she made this trip when she was nine months pregnant. Many believe that Mary made the trip riding on a donkey. The Bible doesn’t say that. She may have been walking. Not likely, but it may have happened. When they arrived at Bethlehem they were tired. Joseph spent a lot of time going from inn to inn looking for a place for them to stay especially since Mary could give birth at any time, but nothing was available. Mary was gracious. When a stable was offered she willingly took it, choosing to sleep on the straw instead of the hard, cold ground.
Mary was also a strong girl, strong spiritually and strong physically, too. She was tired from the long trip, tired from the search for a place to spend the night. All she wanted to do was lay down and sleep, but she could not. Labor pains began. The baby was born. And yet she still could not rest for a group of shepherds entered the stable asking, “Is this the place?” Then they explained why they were there. What an incredible, unbelievable story! Unbelievable to anyone who has never interacted with an angel. Mary believed. Mary knew why they were there worshiping her little Son. Yet Mary did not understand everything that was happening because she pondered in her heart all that she heard. She did not understand why her God would send His Son birthed by her to save the world from their sins. Only after the shepherds left could Mary get some sleep if her thoughts did not keep her awake.
Two other times we are told that Mary pondered things she saw and heard in her heart. One was about forty days after Jesus’ birth. She and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to offer the sacrifices of purification as demanded by Jewish law and the scriptures. Simeon and Anna, two old people who were frequently found at the temple, came to them and worshiped Jesus and told Mary their story. Simeon even prophesied about Jesus’ death. This must have really puzzled Mary. The next was when the wise men knocked on the door of their house. We do not know exactly when this was as the Bible does not say. We can surmise that it was more than forty days after Jesus’ birth because Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left for Egypt the soon after the wise men left. It may have been as long as two years after Jesus’ birth. Why else would Herod have killed all babies in Bethlehem two years old and younger? The wise men worshiped her Son and gave him wonderful gifts. The gifts that were given to Jesus would have caused anyone to stop and think. Gold is a kingly gift, frankincense a priestly gift, and myrrh a burying spice.
Mary truly was blessed among women and highly favored with God and man. She was chosen by God to bring His Son into the world. She believed God and trusted Him to get her through the hardships of life and trusted her son, the Son of God, to take away her sins and be her Savior.