I'm glad you could join me today as we continue our look at the Gospel of Luke. Yesterday we began looking at the angel's announcement to both Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. and Mary, the mother of Jesus. We learned from the announcement to Mary that the angel appeared to her "In the sixth month." (Luke 1:26) This does not mean "the sixth month of the year," but "the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy.
Yesterday, I raised the very likely possibility that Mary was the source of Luke's information. If this was true, then what is interesting is Mary didn't give much information about Joseph. Well, anyhow, the angel appeared to her and foretold the birth of Jesus. We are told that Mary was "a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David." (Luke 1:27) Now, in our day and time an engagement is simply the preliminary time between the acceptance of a proposal and the actual wedding. If during this time one of the two fiancés decides that he/she is no longer interested in marriage they simply call off the wedding. But, in Mary and Joseph's time the engagement was marriage part one. In fact, the engagement was so binding that in order to break it one had to get a divorce.
O.K., we said yesterday that Mary was probably around twelve years old. This was the marriageable age. Now, it is often speculated that Mary was probably given to Joseph or pledged by her parents. Now, I'm not necessarily arguing against this, but...there is a chance that her parents had nothing to do with it. We have to pay close attention to the wording in this story, and especially to what Mary says to the angel. The angel says to her: "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus." (Luke 1:31) Then Mary answers: "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34) The King James Version reads: "How can this be, seeing I know not a man?" This is interesting. Victorian scholars commented that this was an innocent question as to where babies come from. It would be like my boys coming to me asking where babies come from and me telling them to go ask their mother. Well, I do not agree with the Victorian scholars on this. Let's say that Mary was not naïve when it came to knowing where babies do come from. In fact, I would argue that in that day and time twelve year old girls were probably very aware of this part of biology. Again, we know that Mary was engaged to Joseph. Why did she say "I know not a man?" Well, this gets interesting. Some scholars have suggested that Joseph was as old as ninety years old. According to at least one source Mary was a poor girl living in a dangerous world and she was without a guardian. The elders cast lots to see who would take care of her. The lot fell upon Joseph who was a widowed carpenter. Joseph was quoted as saying: "I already have sons and I am old. Why are you bringing me this girl?" Now, with that being said let's look back at verse thirty-four: "How can this be since I know not a man?" The Greek reading of this is: "How can this be, I know not a man and do not count on that ever happening." We'll come back to that.
Before we continue let's try to answer the question: Who were Mary's parents? The Bible does not say. We are given some background on Zechariah, Elizabeth and Joseph, but not Mary. She is simply "a virgin pledged to be married..." Well, surely she had parents. According to one source Mary was the daughter of Joachim and Anna (not the prophet Anna). Anna had been barren. Mary's parents were both well in years when Anna conceived. (a typical pattern in the Bible) When Mary was three years old (according to the source) she was dedicated to a lifelong service as a consecrated virgin in the temple. The Roman Catholic Church affirm that the perpetual virginity of Mary. Others did as well including John Wesley and Martin Luther. Now, it is interesting to read Mary's reply to the angel: "I am the Lord's servant." (Luke 1:38a)
Tomorrow, I will look at the birth of Jesus. You will not want to miss it. Have a great day. Pastor Rick