Mary, the Only Witness to the Entire Life of Jesus

Who was Mary besides being the famed mother of Jesus? She was present throughout the exceptional life of her son from beginning to end to beginning.[1]

As a mother, every amazing detail about her son was memorable. In a distinguishing characteristic of Luke, twice before Jesus turned 13, the Gospel says Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.”[2] The author of Luke says the Gospel is based on witness accounts “from the beginning.”[3]

Mary’s remarkable life took a turn from ordinary to extraordinary in only a moment. As a girl who had become of marriageable age at 13 living in Nazareth, a town of about 2000 or less, Mary soon agreed to marry Joseph.[4] Her betrothal was no different than for any other Jewish girl…until Mary was visited by the Archangel Michael who announced she would be impregnated by the Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Messiah.[5]

Not telling Joseph her magnificent secret, Mary promptly left to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, the wife of a priest, Zachariah.[6] Merely a few days pregnant and otherwise not physically apparent even to Mary herself other than Gabriel’s message, Elizabeth confirmed Mary’s pregnancy as soon as she arrived.[7]

It was a perfect ice-breaker opening the door for Mary to confide her secret with someone who would understand. Aside from being cousins, they both had something in common – miraculous pregnancies.[8] Elizabeth had been married for many years but had been barren. Even her husband doubted the possibility of her becoming pregnant because of her age.[9]

When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth to her son who would become known as John the Baptist, Mary went back home to Nazareth, but she still didn’t tell Joseph of her private circumstance.[10] For how long she withheld her secret is not known, but “she was found” to be pregnant apparently not because Mary divulged it.[11]

Clearly Mary’s secret was difficult to handle, much more than because of the Jewish religious society’s negative view of pregnancy before marriage. When Joseph found out, knowing he was not the father, he considered a divorce which could have dire consequences for Mary. It is safe to assume it caused stress on both sides. Archangel Gabriel paid a visit to Joseph who then had a change of heart deciding that God’s divine plan trumped the difficult situation for himself.

As if things in Mary’s home life weren’t tough enough, a few months later as Mary was preparing to give birth any day, the town crier announced a family registration decree by Caesar August. On very short notice, it required Mary to travel to Bethlehem 90 miles away with her new husband, Joseph, who was of the royal lineage of David.[12] Making matters worse, the inns in Bethlehem were full and Mary was forced to give birth in a stable.

Joy overcame the difficult circumstances followed with more amazing events. Shepherds heralded by a choir of angels left their herds in the country to see her baby.[13] That was followed by Magi who came from a faraway country bearing expensive gifts including gold and they worshipped her baby![14] Events again took another dramatic turn for the worse – the King of Judea, Herod, wanted to kill her baby forcing Mary’s new family to escape to Egypt.[15]

Finally things settled down with the death of Herod and the three returned to Nazareth. Over the following years, Mary and Joseph raised a family of five boys and at least two girls.[16] A stark reminder that their 12-year old son, Jesus, was distinctively different from his siblings came when they lost him during their trip to Jerusalem for the Passover.[17] When they eventually found Jesus in the Temple, he declared, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”[18]

Mary knew her son had special powers who could perform miracles. When a wedding party ran out of wine, she asked Jesus to turn the pots of water to wine. He appeared not to be ready to reveal his miracle capabilities, but in-spite-of being a grown adult, Jesus did as his mother asked performing the first recorded miracle.[19]

Before choosing his Disciples at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus moved to Capernaum. At his new home, Mary and her family tried to meet with Jesus after he had cast out demons and performed healing miracles that roused the crowd, but they could not reach him because the crowd was too dense.[20]

Next mention of Mary three years later was the most dreadful of scenarios, all the more horrifying for a mother, as she watched her tortured son being crucified.[21] What emotions she experienced can scarcely be imagined.

Great joy again returned when Mary saw her son alive again! She celebrated with those who saw Jesus ascend into Heaven 40 days after his Resurrection.[22]

Mary was the sole witness to the entire life of Jesus from her miraculous conception, the circumstances of his birth, his miracles, his crucifixion and his Resurrection. These events are corroborated by many sources as documented in the Gospels as well as those not so readily apparent outside of the Gospels.

Magi visiting Jerusalem, an entire city full of people could have refuted the conspicuous visit if it hadn’t happened – it wasn’t repudiated by those still alive when the original Gospels were made public. History confirms the registration decree of Caesar Augustus, the death of King Herod and other Roman, Jewish and history authorities during that same time. Judaism, historical accounts and all four Gospels corroborate the crucifixion of Jesus witnessed by Mary.

Much attention is made of  Mary Magdalene’s Resurrection encounter at the tomb…if anyone could confirm or refute that it was Jesus who was alive after his death on the cross, it was his own mother and family.

Joseph and Mary no doubt talked about their amazing experiences in their home and at private gatherings. If there were disparities, as adults family members would have been expected to expose them – they didn’t. Mary’s children became followers of Jesus costing Mary another of her own sons who became a martyr for his belief in Jesus as the Messiah:[23]

“…he [Ananus] assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions.]  And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned…” – Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews [24]

Considering Mary’s witness of a miraculous conception and seeing her son, Jesus, crucified and Resurrected – was Jesus the prophesied Messiah who was Resurrected from the dead?

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Northcote, James Spencer. “The Life of Mary in the Gospels.” 1856-60. <https://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-182/LifeMary14.htm> “Who was With Jesus When He Ascended?” Pathos.com. 2017. <https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/12/15/who-was-with-jesus-when-he-ascended>
[2] Luke 2:51. NASB. NASB, NIV. Luke 2:19.
[3] Luke 1:2.
[4] “Nazareth.”  New World Encyclopedia. 2018. <https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/nazareth>  “Nazareth.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2019. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/nazareth> Kiddushin 3b.  Sefaria. <https://www.sefaria.org/Kiddushin.3b?lang=bi>  “Marriage.” Judaism 101. <http://www.jewfaq.org/marriage.htm>  “Majority.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10310-majority>
[5] Luke 1:26-35.
[6] Luke 1:39, 56.
[7] Luke 1:39-45.
[8] Matthew 1:18-19, 36-37, 58; Luke 1:36.
[9] Luke 1:8-25, 57-66.
[10] Matthew 1:56.
[11] Mathew 1:18. Net.bible.org. 2019. Greek text word “heurisko.” <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=2147> Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. Eliyah.com. n.d. <http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=2147>
[12] Luke 2:1-6.
[13] Luke 2:8-20.
[14] Matthew 2:1-12.
[15] Matthew 2:13-17.
[16] Matthew 13:55; Mark 3:31-32, 6:3; John 2:12; Acts 1:14.
[17] Luke 2:41-51.
[18] NASB.
[19] John 2:1-11. CR John 4:46.
[20] Mathew 4:13; Mark 3:20-32; Luke 4:16-30.
[21] John 19:25. CR Luke 23:49.
[22] Acts. 1:3, 12-14.
[23] John 2:12; Acts 1:12-14.
[24] Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. and commentary. William Whitson.  The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. Book XX, Chapter IX.4.  <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

What Happens When God Names Someone?

When God names someone the few times in Hebrew history, it is associated with greatness and long-term blessings.[1] What does that say about Jesus of Nazareth?

As a 75-year old man, God told Abram to move with his family to the land of Canaan promising “…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[2] Faithfully, Abram complied and eventually settled near the city of Salem and the mounts of Moriah.

Abram and his wife, Sarai, decided that due to their old age, the only way for him to have a son was to father a child with Sarai’s servant, an Egyptian named Hagar.[3] Once Hagar became pregnant, both women despised each other placing Hagar in difficult position.

Sarai blamed Abram of creating the situation by making Hagar pregnant. Abram told Sarai that since Hagar was her servant, she could do with Hagar as she wished. Hagar was treated harshly to the point she ran away. God sent an angel to Hagar telling her to return and obey Saria, then she would be blessed through her son whom God named Ishmael:

Gen. 16:11-13 “And the Angel of the LORD said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction…Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand… I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’”(NKJV) [4]

Hagar gave birth to Ishmael when Abram was 86 years old.[5] The boy lived with his mother as part of Abram’s family for more than 13 years until the time came for the next chapter in Abram’s life. Ishmael went on to get married to an Egyptian girl and was blessed with 12 sons who would become princes of their tribes.[6]

At the age of 99, God appeared to Abram confirming His promise 24 years earlier. Adding to the promise, the message from God was 3-fold:

Gen. 17:5-6 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.  I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.” (NASB)

Gen. 17: 15-16 “…As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

Gen. 17:19 “…Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

Renamed by God, descendants of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac included the kingdom of the House of David from whom the Messiah would come according to several future prophecies.[7] God included the names of Abraham and Isaac in His introduction when he spoke to the Hebrew nation. Perhaps the greatest recognition of greatness came about 1300 years later when God called Abraham His friend in present tense:

Is 41:8 “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend.” (NKJV)

Isaac would marry Rebekah to whom was born twins, Esau and Jacob. A famine came upon the land and God warned Isaac not to go to Egypt as his father had once done to escape a famine meanwhile assuring Isaac of His blessing:

Gen. 26:3 “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

Living in exile for 20 years hiding from Esau who wanted to kill him for stealing his firstborn birthright blessing, Jacob decided to go back home. Before entering the land of Abraham, Jacob’s family camped at a place called Bethel.[8] That night, Jacob wrestled with a Man who, at the end of the night, said:

Gen. 32:28 “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”(NKJV)[9]

At peace with Esau, Jacob settled and built a house in the land of Canaan. God later sent Jacob back to Bethel instructing him to build an altar. Returning home, he received another message from God:

Gen. 35: 10-12 “God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” … “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”(NRSV)

Gabriel, the archangel known in Biblical history as the messenger of God, appeared to Daniel to interpret visions. In both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Gabriel reappeared first to Mary, then to Joseph.[10]

Mary was informed she would miraculously conceive a baby by God to be named “Jesus” who would be the promised Messiah. Joseph, Mary’s betrothal, received a similar message from Gabriel telling him that Mary’s surprise pregnancy was by the hand of God and the baby was to be named “Jesus”:

LK 1:26-33 “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ … ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.’ And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall 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; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’” (NASB)

MT 1:20-21 “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (NASB)

In two independent appearances by Gabriel months apart, first to Mary, then to Joseph, neither knew about each other’s message from God. Circumstances of the separate announcements met the standard of Jewish Law requiring two witnesses to confirm a fact – God named Mary’s baby, “Jesus.”[11] What does this say about the fulfillment of God’s promises and the blessings to be associated with the babe God named Jesus?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 1883. Book II, Chapter 4.  <http://philologos.org/__eb-lat/default.htm>
[2] Genesis 12 ; Genesis 12:3. NASB, NKJV, NRSV.
[3] Genesis 25.
[4] CR Genesis 17, 21.
[5] Genesis 16.
[6] Genesis 16, 25; I Chronicles 1. “The 12 Tribes of Ishmael.” Nabatea.net. n.d. <http://nabataea.net/12tribes.html>
[7] “Abraham.”  BBC | Religion. 2009. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/history/abraham_1.shtml>  “Analysis: Story of Abraham and His Relevance to Islam, Judaism and Christianity.” NPR. 2018. <https://www.npr.org/programs/totn/transcripts/2002/sep/020924.feiler.html>
[8] Genesis 35.
[9] CR Genesis 35.
[10] Luke 1; Daniel 8, 9. “Uriel.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14606-uriel>  “Gabriel (Archangel).” New World Encyclopedia. 2017. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gabriel_(Archangel)>
[11] Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15; Numbers 35:30. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin 9a. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_9.html> Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin 30a. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_30.html>