We just don’t know a lot about Mary, the young woman who would become
the mother of Jesus. We assume from historical records that she was fairly
young, perhaps 14 or 15 years old, since that was the age when most young
girls became engaged.
We know, based on the sacrifice offered at Jesus’ birth that Mary and Joseph
were not wealthy. We can infer from the angel’s greeting, “Greeting, favored
woman,” that Mary was not a wild teenager, but rather that the Lord was with
her (Luke 1:28).
However, even if Mary had, like many young girls of her time, secretly dreamed
she might be the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, her hometown
would have made such an honor highly unlikely! She knew the religious
leaders of her day considered Galileans like herself as “unlettered country-
people” with accents so bad that their “very patois was an offence.”  No, if the
Messiah came in her generation, He would surely come to a noble family, a
family acceptable to the religious leaders! Oh, Mary! Little did you know!
Because it was to Mary, an “unlettered country woman” that the angel
appeared and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him
Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the
Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the
house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
Mary, did you understand? Of course not. How could you? Such thing had
never been seen before or since. How could you conceive and give birth to a
son when you “had not had sexual relations with a man” (Luke 1:34)? What did
it mean that the Holy Spirit would “come upon” you? And, if your son would sit
on the throne of King David, did the thought of one day being the queen
mother living in a palace cross your mind?
Mary may not have understood, but she had faith, something that would be
incredibly important to her in the years to come. “I am the Lord’s servant,…
May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:37).
Flash forward nine months. She had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph had first planned to divorce her, then had married her after his own
encounter with an angel. Rumors about the identity of the baby-daddy most
likely made her life miserable in the small town. Perhaps having to leave
Nazareth for Bethlehem for the census, even if it meant traveling while
pregnant, would have been a relief for her. A chance to get away from the
busybodies who had been all up in her business since her pregnancy first
But, “While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave
birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in
a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2:6-7).
What happened next must have been completely perplexing: shepherds
arriving to see her newborn baby? Magi arriving with gifts of gold,
frankincense and myrrh? A threat from the king that necessitated a midnight
escape to Egypt?
It’s little wonder that Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart and
meditated on them” (Luke 2:19). Had Joseph shared with her the angel’s
message to him: “You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people
from their sins”? Did either of them understand what that would entail?
Mary, did any of this make sense to you?
We only get a few more brief glimpses of Mary over the next few years:
bringing Jesus to the temple when He was 8 days old (Luke 2); going to
Jerusalem with Jesus when He was 12—and losing Him in the crowd (Luke 2);
asking Jesus to perform a miracle at the wedding in Cana (John 2); coming
with His brothers and sisters to attempt an intervention, thinking that “He is
out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).
Then we see Mary standing at the foot of the cross watching her son die a
terrible death. How did that fit with Gabriel’s message to her 30-some years
before? Had she misunderstood or mis-remembered what she had been told?:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God
will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of
Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Luke 2:32-33). And yet, here
on a hill just outside Jerusalem, His life was coming to an end.
Now Mary is left alone to try to figure out what had gone wrong. It is possible
that Jesus put Mary in John’s care (John 19:27-29)  because there was a
serious rift in the family. Had Mary alienated her other children by continuing
to support Jesus? We do know Jesus’ brothers (and perhaps sisters) did not
believe in Him—until after the resurrection.
Ah, yes. The resurrection. Mary, what a shock that must have been! What were
you thinking when you saw your Son alive after you had watched Him die? Did
it bring back vivid memories of your encounter with an angel and the message
the angel gave you? Did you remember that song you sang with Elizabeth
when you visited her early in your pregnancy? What did you pray about while
you were gathered there with the others (Acts 1:14)?
Mary, what did you know?
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because
he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Surely, from
now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done
great things for me, and his name is holy. His mercy is from generation to
generation on those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm;
he has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; he has
toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied
the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his
servant Israel, remembering his mercy to Abraham and his
descendants forever, just as he spoke to our ancestors.” (Luke 1:45-55)
 Alfred Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Endeavour
Compass: Kindle Edition).
 Alfred Edersheim (ibid.) identifies John’s mother Salome as Mary’s sister.
So, John was Jesus’ cousin.