According to the dictates of her culture, we know that Mary was a teenager, probably somewhere between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. She lived in Nazareth, a small village of about three hundred, and, again, as was the custom, was betrothed to Joseph, a man older than she. The engagement was a binding commitment, even though the marriage had not been consummated.
She and Joseph could both trace their ancestry back to King David. Joseph’s town of birth was Bethlehem, so when the Roman government decreed that every man would return to the city of his birth, all the pieces were in place for God to fulfill His prophecy.
Micah 5:2: “”But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to me the One to be Ruler in Israel.”
When the angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive a child, she was baffled. To be pregnant and unmarried in that culture meant she could be stoned. No wonder she replied, “How can this be? I haven’t slept with a man.”
Knowing how women in that culture were often not educated, I’ve wondered if Mary had ever read the prophecies, or if she had been told of the maiden God would choose to deliver His son. Did the young women of Mary’s day realize what God had foretold?
Isaiah 7:14 “The Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
Mary’s response is amazing. Here she is, an unmarried girl with an uncertain future in a culture that won’t accept her condition without reprisal. Joseph could easily give her a writ of divorce. The Jewish leaders could insist she die. She simply says, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your Word.” (Luke 2:38)
Is it any wonder God chose her to bring His gift into the world?
In a Christmas card I received from a crisis pregnancy center that my husband and I support, the writer mentioned that if God had waited until 2011 to send the Christ child, Mary could easily have become one of the pregnancy center’s clients. In our culture, she would be perceived as a teen in an unwanted pregnancy, a girl government-funded agencies would all too willingly counsel to abort.
Instead of facing the Jewish leaders of her village, Mary would navigate the waters of choice, a cleverly disguised cloak for destroying her child. She would have to stand up to the pressures of a boyfriend, and possibly a family, that would sway her away from her convictions. You have to ask yourself if the Christ child would have survived those eager to destroy Him, were He born today?
Praise God, in His wisdom, He didn’t wait. Jesus Christ was born and because of His coming, God adopted all of us as His children. Jesus as a man paid the price of eternal life by dying for everyone who believes. Acts 16:31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”