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Biblical People

Biblical People: Mary (1)

An angel visits Mary, a young girl engaged to be married. The angel celebrates her as one highly favored by God. Perplexed, Mary wonders about the angel’s shocking greeting. Then he further stuns her by saying she will become pregnant, and her child will save her people.

“How?” Mary asks. “I’m a virgin.” 

The angel explains that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally impregnate her.

Mary trusts God in this and accepts the angel’s words without arguing.

When Joseph, her fiancé, finds out she’s with child, he plans to end their engagement, but an angel visits him, too, and tells him not to break up with her. They get married, but they remain celibate until after Mary’s miracle baby is born.

However, before this happens Mary and Joseph must travel to Bethlehem for a mandatory census. Unable to find a place to stay, they hunker down in a barn. There, among the filth of livestock, Jesus is born.

This is no ordinary birth. Angels celebrate, shepherds bow down, and royalty offers expensive gifts. Then at Jesus’s consecration, people give astounding prophecies and thanks for him. Twelve years later, Jesus amazes his parents, especially Mary, when they find him at the temple in deep discussion with the religious leaders. 

At age thirty he starts his ministry. Three years later, during his execution, Jesus makes sure Mary will be cared for. The last we hear of her is at a gathering of Jesus’s followers after he rises from the dead and returns to heaven. 

Though we praise Mary for her pious acceptance of God’s assignment, the townspeople didn’t likely celebrate her circumstances. They certainly dismissed her claim that “God did it,” and she likely forever carried the stigma of the girl who got pregnant before she was married.

Sometimes there is a price for following God. Would we be willing to suffer a lifetime of humiliation to conform to his plan for us?

[Discover more about Mary in Matthew 1:18–2:11, Luke 1:26–38, Luke 2:1–51, and Acts 1:14.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.