With Christmas rapidly approaching it is difficult to go through the season without thinking of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The Scripture gives us insights into her character, but it does not give us much about her life, other than genealogy, the nativity, and a few events in Jesus’ life where she is also present.
We do know God favored her. Luke 1:28, “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
Because of what we know from history and period in which she lived, there are some things we can speculate about her with a good amount of accuracy.
Mary was probably 14 to 16 years of age when she gave birth to Jesus. Her age may shock some people but in first century Israel, girls were married usually during their middle teen years. A woman in her 20s would have been considered “an old maid.” Men, however, were around 30 years old – usually somewhere from the mid-20s to the mid-30s when married. It was the norm for a man to be 10 to 20 years older than his wife, with honeymoon couples having the ages of 35 and 15.
With this being the case, Mary was in her mid-40s at the time of the crucifixion. Joseph’s absence from the narrative during Jesus’ adult years would indicate Mary was probably a widow by the time Christ’s ministry started. With the difference of ages at marriage at the time, it was not unusual for a woman to become a widow while in her 40s or 50s.
There are also things the Bible tells us we know are specific because of the Scripture’s inerrancy.
After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph went on to have at least six children of their own. 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.”
Mary was poor. She did not have any material wealth. The Old Testament law required a sacrifice of a lamb and a pigeon or dove when a woman had a child; however, if the family could not afford a lamb, an extra pigeon or dove replaced the lamb (Leviticus 12:6-8). Luke 2:22-24 informs us Mary brought the offering of two birds.
A side note here – if anyone ever tells you that favor with God automatically brings wealth or material goods, you may want to remind them that the woman that was “highly favored” by God enough to bring His Son into the world was never wealthy and lived in or at near poverty levels all of her days.
Mary was “highly favored” by God and “all generations shall call (her) blessed.” She was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb and at the time of His birth. Even with all this going for her, she is still human and in need of a Saviour. In Mary’s own words, “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47).
As the angel told Joseph, the purpose for Mary’s miraculous conception is for the Son of God to come to this earth through a virgin to suffer as the Sacrifice for mankind’s sins, providing salvation to all who place faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection (Matthew 1:18-23; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53:1-12; Romans 10:9-10; John 3:16; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 2:2).
The shame of the Christmas season is that the birthday boy is often forgotten and pushed aside in all the hustle and bustle, the buying of presents, the parties, and family get-togethers.
A virgin has conceived, and the child is born – that is Christmas. A virgin has conceived, and the child is born – that is a miracle. A virgin has conceived, and the child is born – that is God providing the Saviour.
This Christmas season, remember Mary and Joseph, remember the Baby Jesus, and remember what happened in that barn that night. God used a young teenage girl as the vessel to bring God to this earth in human form; so He may provide salvation to a lost and dying world.