Tag Archives: Saint Matthew

What did she know?

Driving in to work this morning, my wife and I heard the Christmas song “Mary Did You Know?” playing on the radio.

In the version that we heard, Kenny Rogers is asking if she knew that the child she was carrying would do many wondrous things.

He asks if she knows that he will ‘one day walk on water’, ‘save our sons and daughters’, ‘give sight to a blind man’, ‘calm a storm with his hand’, and ‘one day rule the nations’ among other miraculous actions.

It is a legitimate question to consider: what did Mary know about her child, and when did she know it?

We know from Matthew’s Gospel that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and given certain information.

First, she was told that her child would be a boy, and that she should name him ‘Jesus’. She is told by Gabriel that the child will be ‘great’ and will be ‘called Son of the most High’.

But then Gabriel goes further, saying ‘the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.’

What Gabriel is telling Mary is that her child shall be the long awaited Messiah.

Mary doesn’t understand how this can happen, since she is engaged to Joseph but not yet married. She has never been with, nor does she intend to be with, a man in any physical way that would result in the birth of a child. In other words, Mary is a virgin, and she is staying that way until marriage.

Gabriel then drops the final bomb on her: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee…the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.’

Mary is told that God Himself shall be the father of her child through supernatural means.

Now you try to tell me that this wouldn’t be a little overwhelming for your average teenage girl. But Mary was not average, she had been chosen by God in his plan for this purpose long before her own Immaculate Conception.

So before she had even conceived Jesus, Mary knew that she would be the mother of the Son of God, the Redeemer, the Messiah promised for ages.

Later her fiancee, Joseph, was also visited and told of the supernatural conception. He was also told that the child would be a boy, and that they should name him Jesus. Joseph was told that this name would be given because the child would go on to ‘save his people from their sins.’

So both Joseph and Mary had the same information during her pregnancy.

While newly pregnant, Mary finds out that her cousin Elizabeth is also with child, now six months along. What Mary apparently does not know is that Elizabeth’s child will grow to be ‘John the Baptist’, who will begin to lay the groundwork for her own child’s ministry.

When they visit with one another, Elizabeth tells Mary that she, Mary, is ‘blessed among women’ and is ‘the mother of my Lord.’

Finally, just after Jesus’ birth, Mary’s family is visited by shepherds who related their experiences of being told by angels that ‘this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.’

These were the exact circumstances that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had indeed found themselves, and the shepherds were thus driven to their location. So Mary gets even more confirmation to her earlier messages, as if she needed it by this point.

So we find that Mary knew before she was even pregnant that her child would be the Christ, the Savior, the Son of God, and she received a number of confirmations to these facts during and after her pregnancy.

As a Jewish woman whose father was a priest, Mary knew well the prophecies involving the Messiah. This would further mean that she had to know that ultimately her child would die so that his people could live.

In the end we are left with no other way to see things: Mary knew pretty much everything that was going to happen right from that first visit from Gabriel.

We are man, and Mary was blessed, but she was also mortal. In other words, she could have seen and been overwhelmed by all of this and simply said “No.”

Instead, because Mary saw, knew, and accepted, and said “Yes”, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born, lived, taught, and died for our sins.

Mary quite obviously, along with the help of her husband Joseph, raised Jesus to be a loving, strong, wise, good man. Of course, as God among us, this was inevitable, but the love that Jesus had for his mother showed that she quite obviously did a good job raising and loving him.

In these last couple of days before Christmas it is nice to consider that 2,000 years ago, Mary knew exactly what she was getting into with the child to whom she was about to give birth. And it is nice to know that she said that “Yes” to the pregnancy, to His birth, and ultimately to our eternal salvation.

Joseph: A righteous man

He couldn’t have been happier with the way in which his life was finally turning out. A hard-working tradesman who plied his craft with the best of them, he had met a beautiful young girl and fallen in love at first sight.

Sure she was much younger than him, but he was determined to have her in his life. He continued to pursue her gently, and finally got up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage.

She was a very young girl, much younger than he was, yet she was in some ways wise beyond her years. She wasn’t completely sold on the man who was pursuing her affections, but her family was completely taken with him. After all, he was a hard worker who would absolutely be able to provide for their daughter. He was ruggedly handsome and possessed a maturity that told them the man would treat their daughter right.

So the young girl somewhat grudgingly entered into the engagement. The engagement period was going along smoothly until one night the young lady realized that she was pregnant.

By now you have figured out, in all likelihood, that this young woman was named Mary, and her fiancee was named Joseph. She learns of the pregnancy when an angel appears to her and announces to her that the child has been created by God through the Holy Spirit.

Now this creates many problems for the couple. How was anyone supposed to believe Mary when she revealed the news to her family that she was pregnant, and that she was to bear the Son of God from her womb?

Of course, no one would believe such an outlandish story. They would all believe that she had a secret affair going on with one of the young men from the area, or that perhaps she had been violated by a soldier.

Mary got up the courage to tell her story to her family, and almost immediately there was tremendous skepticism and antagonism. Her fiancee Joseph was crushed, though not embarrassed.

As described in the gospel of Matthew (1:19), he was “a righteous man”, and so decided to set their relationship aside in a quiet manner. He would make no accusations against her, and would bow out peacefully. Fact was, he still cared deeply for her.

That night, Joseph was awoken by the appearance of the same angel who had visited Mary. The angel said to him the following:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Joseph was a practical man, but this was no dream. It was not the manifestation of some meal that he had eaten that evening working on his digestive tract as he slept. It was not his conscience acting in a dream state due to his continued affections for Mary. He was very much aware that what he had experienced was real, and he was not about to question his God.

Joseph got out of bed, and began to do as the angel of the Lord had commanded. He took Mary into his home as his wife, and would forever after be a father to the Son of God in every way that is meant.

He had no relations with Mary until after she had bore the child, whom they faithfully named Jesus. He taught Jesus practical lessons in carpentry and in life, and Jesus grew up over the next couple of decades in his house.

The story of Joseph is a timeless one of commitment and sacrifice, and of faith. Joseph was under extreme pressure from the people and powers of this world to turn his back on the woman that he loved. He was considered a fool by some, a martyr by others. Yet he was actually neither of these.

What Joseph showed is that he was a man of God, a man who listened to what the Lord said and put that first in his life.We can all take a lesson from this righteous man as we move through life.

Many times we have been and will be called by God to do something, say something, act in a certain way, treat someone in some way. In responding we may be asked to make a sacrifice, or to go out on a limb, to leave our own comfort zone, perhaps even to embarrass ourselves. When that time comes, remember Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord.