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Joseph and Mary - A Faithful Couple

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God directed the archangel Gabriel to deliver two messages to two married couples: Zacharias and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph. Elizabeth and Mary were cousins.

To Zacharias Gabriel said: “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John … [He will] make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13 Luke 1:13But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
American King James Version×
; Luke 1:17 Luke 1:17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
American King James Version×
).

Though Joseph and Mary were entrusted with the responsibility and blessing of overseeing the childhood of God’s own Son, the family relationship doesn’t stop there. Jesus Christ has included others—you and me— in His spiritual family as His brothers and sisters.

To Mary Gabriel relayed this message directly from God: “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! … Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:28 Luke 1:28And the angel came in to her, and said, Hail, you that are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.
American King James Version×
; Luke 1:31-32 Luke 1:31-32 31 And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:
American King James Version×
).

Much of the Bible is about Jesus Christ. Only a small portion of the New Testament discusses His parents—Joseph, His stepfather, and Mary, His mother. Yet the New Testament’s details about their lives help enhance our understanding of these two honored parents.

Joseph: Jesus’ Stepfather

James Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible clarifies Joseph’s lineage: “Every Jew kept a record of his lineage, and was proud if he could claim royal or priestly descent; Joseph was ‘a son of David’ (Matthew 1:20 Matthew 1:20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
; Luke 2:4 Luke 2:4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
American King James Version×
). His family belonged to Bethlehem, David’s city, but he had moved to Nazareth (1988, p. 529).

Some Bible readers wonder why the Gospels give two genealogies for Jesus. The simple answer is that Matthew records Joseph’s ancestors, and Luke records Mary’s. Both could trace their ancestry back to David and from him back to Abraham, fulfilling the prophecies that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:3 Genesis 12:3And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 3:16 Galatians 3:16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.
American King James Version×
) and David (2 Samuel 7:12-13 2 Samuel 7:12-13 12 And when your days be fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, which shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
American King James Version×
).

Joseph was a carpenter. The Greek word is tekton, which was used of a versatile and skilled builder or craftsman who worked with various materials including wood and stone. Jesus, having learned the trade from Joseph, later used analogies based on His experiences at Joseph’s side to explain man’s relationship to God and His coming kingdom.

Note one such example: “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27 Matthew 7:24-27 24 Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house on a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell not: for it was founded on a rock. 26 And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened to a foolish man, which built his house on the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
American King James Version×
; RSV). Friends and acquaintances of Jesus knew He understood exactly what He was talking about.

Some months after Joseph’s betrothal to Mary, he discovered she was pregnant. Joseph erroneously assumed Mary had been unfaithful to him, but Joseph’s subsequent actions tell us much about his character and nature.

“… When [Jesus’] mother Mary was going to be married to Joseph, before they came together the discovery was made that she was with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph, her husband, being an upright man, and not desiring to make her a public example, had a mind to put her away [break their engagement] privately” (Matthew 1:18-19 Matthew 1:18-19 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately.
American King James Version×
, Bible in Basic English).

As an honorable and humble man, as well as faithful in his observance of the Israelitish ordinances and feasts (Luke 2:21-24 Luke 2:21-24 21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
American King James Version×
; Luke 2:41 Luke 2:41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
American King James Version×
), Joseph thought it best to quietly spare Mary and her family disgrace by giving her a bill of divorce, breaking their betrothal.

However, after he had been informed of the truth by an angel (Matthew 1:18-25 Matthew 1:18-25 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took to him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
American King James Version×
), he treated Mary kindly. “On being summoned to Bethlehem by the requirements of the census, he would not leave her at home to suffer the slanders of misjudging neighbors, but took her with him and treated her very gently in her time of need” ( Hastings, p. 529; compare Luke 2:1-7 Luke 2:1-7 1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
American King James Version×
).

Little Mention of Joseph

Joseph is mentioned only a few times in the four Gospels. Only one incident of Jesus’ childhood is preserved in Scripture. Luke 2:41-50 Luke 2:41-50 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said to him, Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing. 49 And he said to them, How is it that you sought me? knew you not that I must be about my Father’s business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spoke to them.
American King James Version×
records that, when Jesus was 12, His family attended the Passover feast in Jerusalem, as was customary (Leviticus 23:1-2 Leviticus 23:1-2 1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
American King James Version×
, Leviticus 23:4-8 Leviticus 23:4-8 4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
American King James Version×
). However, at the end of the Feast, as Joseph and Mary journeyed back to Nazareth, they realized Jesus wasn’t among their group.

Jesus had lingered in Jerusalem, although they had assumed He was traveling safely with relatives and acquaintances. After a full day of travel they began to look in earnest for their son, not finding Him anywhere.

Reflect for a moment on the trust that both Joseph and Mary placed in their 12-year-old boy. How many of us would feel comfortable leaving a son or daughter of that age alone on a long trip home, assuming he would travel safely among faithful family and friends? Yet Joseph and Mary showed great confidence in their firstborn. This incident shows how times have changed as well as the confidence of two faithful parents in their teaching and training.

The worried parents returned to Jerusalem, where eventually “they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46 Luke 2:46And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
American King James Version×
).

The men who listened as young Jesus discussed God’s law with the teachers “were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47 Luke 2:47And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
American King James Version×
), as were Joseph and Mary when they came upon the sight of some of the nation’s most respected religious authorities listening intently to their 12-year-old son.

Mary’s reaction was likely a mixture of worry and relief: “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously” (Luke 2:47 Luke 2:47And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
American King James Version×
). From this we see Joseph was obviously a concerned father.

What Happened to Joseph?

James Hastings discusses why no mention of Joseph is made after that Passover feast in Jerusalem: “Joseph never appears in the Gospel story after the visit to Jerusalem when Jesus had attained the age of twelve years and become ‘a son of the Law’ (Luke 2:41-51 Luke 2:41-51 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said to him, Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing. 49 And he said to them, How is it that you sought me? knew you not that I must be about my Father’s business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
American King James Version×
); and since Mary always appears alone in the narratives of the public ministry, it is a reasonable inference that he had died during the interval.”

This seems the most likely scenario. Although the Gospels do not give Joseph’s age, Joseph was probably older than Mary. Perhaps he died before Jesus began His ministry.

Although the Scriptures give us only a few glimpses of Joseph, they tell us he was a kind man and a loving father. Perhaps no greater compliment can be paid to him than that of Jesus Himself: When He tried to give mankind a better conception of the love and character of God, He used the term Father to express our Creator’s loving relationship toward us.

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ

Although more is said of Mary than of Joseph, not many scriptures are dedicated to the mother of Jesus.

Mary was of the tribe of Judah and a descendant of David, hence of the royal line. Somewhere around circa 4 B.C. Mary was living in Nazareth. She was unmarried, betrothed to Joseph.

At the appropriate time in God’s plan (Galatians 4:4 Galatians 4:4But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
American King James Version×
), He began fulfilling His promise of the ages: “At this time the angel Gabriel came to her with a message from God, and announced to her that she was to be the mother of the long-expected Messiah—that by the power of the Holy Spirit the everlasting Son of the Father should be born of her (Luke 1:26-35 Luke 1:26-35 26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in to her, and said, Hail, you that are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. 31 And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
American King James Version×
; comp. Romans 1:3)”
( Unger’s Bible Dictionary , p. 702).

The angel also informed Mary her cousin Elizabeth was within three months of delivering a son (Luke 1:36 Luke 1:36And, behold, your cousin Elisabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
American King James Version×
), whom the Bible identifies as John the Baptist.

Mary decided to visit her cousin. As Mary entered her house, Elizabeth confirmed God’s revelation that Mary was to give birth to the Messiah: “Then she [Elizabeth] spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord’…” (Luke 1:42-45 Luke 1:42-45 42 And she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And what is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, see, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
American King James Version×
).

Mary stayed with Elizabeth three months, then returned home (Luke 1:56 Luke 1:56And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
American King James Version×
). After this, Joseph discovered Mary was with child and, having been assured that her conception was of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25 Matthew 1:18-25 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took to him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
American King James Version×
), he took her as his wife. The time for tax enrollment came shortly thereafter.

Bethlehem, Birth and Blessings

Mary accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem to be enrolled for taxation purposes. It was during this time that Jesus was born and lay in a manger (Luke 2:1 Luke 2:1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
American King James Version×
; Luke 2:7 Luke 2:7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
American King James Version×
). As instructed by Scripture, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21 Luke 2:21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
American King James Version×
; Genesis 17:12 Genesis 17:12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of your seed.
American King James Version×
).

Mary and Joseph were faithful to God and His Word. On the 40th day after the birth of Jesus, Mary presented herself with Jesus for their purification in the temple (Luke 2:22-24 Luke 2:22-24 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
American King James Version×
). “The poverty of Joseph and Mary is alluded to in the mention of their offering, ‘a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons’ ” ( Unger’s , p. 702; compare Leviticus 12:8 Leviticus 12:8And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
American King James Version×
).

During Joseph’s and Mary’s visit to the temple in Jerusalem, Mary met Simeon and the prophetess Anna. Simeon thanked God for His promise that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26 Luke 2:26And it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
American King James Version×
). Simeon took the infant in his arms, thanked God and declared the prophecy that through Christ salvation would come also to the gentiles and glory to God’s people Israel (Luke 2:32 Luke 2:32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.
American King James Version×
).

The aged prophetess Anna (probably more than 100 years old) also “gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38 Luke 2:38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise to the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
American King James Version×
).

Herod’s Murderous Plot

Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem, where an angel warned them Herod planned to kill Jesus. “Wise men” from the East had seen the star marking Jesus’ birth and came to worship Him. When Herod heard these things, he and the people of Jerusalem were troubled.

Herod gathered the chief priests and scribes to determine the place of Jesus’ birth. They told him Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. Privately, Herod asked the wise men when the star had appeared. He then deceptively instructed the wise men to find the newborn Messiah “that I may come and worship Him also” (Matthew 2:8 Matthew 2:8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
American King James Version×
). But the wise men were divinely warned in a dream that they shouldn’t return to Herod. Instead, they should return to their native land by a different route (Matthew 2:12 Matthew 2:12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
American King James Version×
).

At that time an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13 Matthew 2:13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be you there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
American King James Version×
). Joseph obeyed God and took Mary and Jesus to Egypt until the death of Herod so the Scripture would be fulfilled that stated: “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Matthew 2:15 Matthew 2:15And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
American King James Version×
; compare Hosea 11:1 Hosea 11:1When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
American King James Version×
).

When Herod realized the wise men would not return to him, he responded brutally to the threat to his power. Herod put to death the male children in and around Bethlehem, from 2 years old and younger (Matthew 2:16 Matthew 2:16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
American King James Version×
). The prophet Jeremiah, writing hundreds of years earlier, had predicted this calamity: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18 Matthew 2:18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
American King James Version×
; Jeremiah 31:15 Jeremiah 31:15Thus said the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
American King James Version×
).

After Herod’s death an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph while he was still in Egypt: “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead” (Matthew 2:20 Matthew 2:20Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
American King James Version×
).

When Joseph and Mary returned with Jesus, God again warned Joseph in a dream not to go to Bethlehem and the surrounding area, but to move to the region of Galilee (Matthew 2:22 Matthew 2:22But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
American King James Version×
). “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’ ” (Matthew 2:23 Matthew 2:23And he came and dwelled in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
American King James Version×
).

Luke summarizes the childhood of Jesus: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40 Luke 2:40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was on him.
American King James Version×
). Joseph and Mary continued to exhibit their humble, faithful approach to God.

After the mention at the time of the Passover feast in Jerusalem when Jesus was 12, Joseph isn’t mentioned again in the Gospels. Mary is mentioned four subsequent times.

Portrait of a Believing Mother

In the first subsequent mention of Mary, she was in the nearby Galilean town of Cana, where Jesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding feast. When the wedding celebrants ran out of wine, Mary mentioned the embarrassing predicament to Jesus (John 2:3 John 2:3And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus replied that this wasn’t a matter He should be concerned with. Nevertheless He responded to her unspoken request. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. He replied by turning 150 gallons of water into fine wine. Mary learned faith and patience from this miracle.

The second mention of Mary was when she and Jesus’ brothers were with Him in Capernaum at a public gathering (John 2:12 John 2:12After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brothers, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.
American King James Version×
). While He was talking to a large group of people, someone informed Him His mother and brothers wanted to speak with Him.

Jesus responded with a great spiritual truth: “ ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother’ ” (Matthew 12:48-50 Matthew 12:48-50 48 But he answered and said to him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brothers? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
American King James Version×
). Doing the will of God makes us part of God’s family, a brother or sister to Jesus Christ.

Incidentally, this passage demonstrates that Mary went on to have additional children after Jesus was born. Mark 6:3 Mark 6:3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
American King James Version×
names four half-brothers—James, Joses, Judas and Simon—plus an unspecified number of “sisters.” Jesus obviously grew up in a family with at least six siblings, the natural children of Joseph and Mary. Two, James and Jude (Judas), later came to accept that their elder half-brother was indeed the Messiah and went on to write the biblical books that bear their names.

The third later mention of Mary was when she and John were standing near the feet of Jesus as He was crucified. In spite of the pain and anguish Jesus was enduring, He thought of his mother’s welfare: “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple [John] whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27 John 19:26-27 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son! 27 Then said he to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
American King James Version×
). Mary’s firstborn son never slighted His responsibilities, as this touching example illustrates.

Finally, after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension to heaven, we find Mary, with other faithful followers of the Lord, praying together. His disciples “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:14 Acts 1:14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
American King James Version×
).

We are introduced to Mary when an angel tells her she would miraculously conceive and give birth to the promised Messiah. At the Bible’s last mention of her, Mary is left to our memories in faithful prayer to God, awaiting her son’s return.

Although God entrusted Joseph and Mary with the responsibility and blessing of overseeing the childhood of His own Son, the family relationship doesn’t stop there. Jesus Christ has included others—you and me—in His spiritual family as His brothers and sisters (Matthew 12:48-50 Matthew 12:48-50 48 But he answered and said to him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brothers? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
American King James Version×
; compare Hebrews 2:11 Hebrews 2:11For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
American King James Version×
). Through Him many more will share in God’s promise: “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
).

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