Mary, Witness To Entire Life of Jesus

 

Who was Mary other than 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. Mentioned twice in Luke 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” and Mary is the only one who was there for it all.[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 about 13 years old living in Nazareth, a town of about 2000 or less, she became betrothed to Joseph.[4] Her betrothal was no different than for any other Jewish girl…until Mary was visited by the angel Michael who announced she would be impregnated by the Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Son of God.[5]

Mary promptly left after Michael’s visitation to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was married to a priest named Zachariah.[6] Merely a few days pregnant, Elizabeth confirmed Mary’s pregnancy the moment she arrived.[7]

It was a perfect ice-breaker opening the door for Mary to share something they had in common – special pregnancies.[8] Elizabeth had been married for many years, but had been barren. Even Zechariah doubted the possibility of Elizabeth becoming pregnant because of her age.[9]

When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth to her son, later known as John the Baptist, Mary went back home to Nazareth, but did not tell Joseph she was pregnant.[10] When Joseph found out and knowing he was not the father, he assumed Mary had a paramour. Joseph considered a divorce although he was concerned it could have dire consequences for Mary.[11]

It is safe to assume Mary’s secret pregnancy caused stress in their betrothal relationship, but before Joseph took any action, an angel paid him a visit delivering a message from God. The message caused Joseph to have 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, as Mary was preparing to give birth any day, the Nazareth town crier announced a registration decree by Caesar August. On very short notice, the decree required Mary to travel with Joseph some 90 miles away to Bethlehem, the ancestral home of King David.[12] Matters got even worse when the couple found the inns in Bethlehem were full and Mary was forced to give birth in a stable.

Joy overcame the difficult circumstances followed by more amazing events. Shepherds heralded by a choir of angels left their herds in the country to see Mary’s newborn baby.[13] That was followed by a visit from 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 – Herod, the King of Judea, wanted to kill her baby forcing Mary’s new family to journey through the desert to escape to Egypt.[15]

Finally things settled down after the death of Herod and the new family returned to Nazareth. Over the following years, Mary and Joseph raised a family of at least four boys and two girls.[16]

A stark reminder that their 12-year old son, Jesus, was distinctively different from his siblings came when they lost him for 3-4 days during their trip home from Jerusalem at the Passover.[17] When Joseph and Mary eventually found Jesus in the Temple, his questions probably rocked the senses of his parents when their 12-year old son asked: “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 suggesting Jesus had done other miraculous things privately within their family. When a wedding party ran out of wine, she knew Jesus could save the event – Mary asked Jesus to turn the pots of water into wine. In-spite-of being a grown adult and not ready to publicly reveal his miracle capabilities, Jesus did as his mother asked by performing his first recorded miracle.[19]

At his home in Capernaum, Mary and her family tried to meet with Jesus, but they could not reach him because the crowd was too dense. Some told Jesus his family was outside wanting to see him. Jesus responded by saying that he considered those around him to be his family.[20] Some Christian authorities believe this incident demonstrates people are the true family of Jesus. It is not stated if Jesus actually met with his family.

Next mention of Mary three years later was during 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.

Much attention is made of Mary Magdalene’s Resurrection encounter at the tomb although his own mother and family seem even better qualified to confirm or refute that Jesus was alive again after his death on the cross. Mary and at least one brother confirmed Jesus was alive after he had been crucified and buried.[22] According to Roman Jewish historian Josephus, a brother of Jesus became a martyr for his belief that the resurrected Jesus is the Messiah:

“…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 [23]

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.  The incidents are corroborated by various sources outside of the Gospels – Roman historians, Judaism, astronomy, archeology, etc.

Do Mary’s witness accounts corroborated by various diverse sources outside the Bible provide enough evidence that Jesus’ life fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah?

 

Updated January 10, 2023.

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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> “Mary.” SquareSpace.com. image. 2013. <http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/498894/21585377/1357687844620/Mary-Mother-of-the-Christ-Myriam-Christian-Movie-Christian-Film-DVD-Odeya-Rush-Peter-OToole-Ben-Kingsley1.jpg?token=HQ84OGWo1X3XauVE74a6xoLFvXY%3D
[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 3:31-34, 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] Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-34, Luke 8:21.
[21] John 19:25. CR Luke 23:49.
[22] Acts 1:12-14. CR John 2:12;
[23] 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

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