The Life of Mary

Mary wearily sat down on the bench under the acacia tree. The cushions she had carried from the house felt good to her aching bones. In her golden years, life had turned out well for her. She rotated between her children’s homes, staying a month or two with each. Now that Joseph had passed away, it was something she enjoyed doing, plus it gave her time to spend with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This month she was at her son, Simon’s house. Some of his grandchildren were there that day, running and playing, having a good time.

Rebecca, the oldest, approached her great-grandmother.

“Will you tell us a story?” she asked.

Mary smiled at her and nodded, “Get your brother and sister. Have them sit down in front of me, please.”

Rebecca did as requested and again asked a question.

“Will you tell us about Jesus?”

Mary was expecting it. All the grandchildren wanted to hear it.

“Are you sure you want to hear it? It is a long story,” she asked.

“Please, great-grandmother, you have told all the others. Now it is our turn.”

“You will have to sit still and be quiet.”

“We will. We promise.”

“It all began when I was young. I was not much older than you are, Rebecca. I was in my room preparing for bed. I loved to brush my hair before turning in and I had just finished. I had changed into my bed clothing, and turned down the bed when it happened.”

“What happened?”

“Rebecca, it makes me quiver just thinking about it. One moment I was alone, and the next my room was filled with a brilliant light. Inside that light ,I could make out the figure of a very large man.”

“Were you afraid?”

“Oh, my, yes! I was terrified and I wanted to flee. But I felt something flowing out of that being. I could not figure out what it was. Then it spoke.”

“What did it say?”

“I can remember it as if it was yesterday. He told me his name was Gabriel, told me not to be afraid, and that God had sent him. He said God had found favor with me. This was all well and good, but then he said something I did not understand. He said I was going to have a baby.”

“A baby? Was it Jesus?”

“Be patient and let me finish, please. He said that I would give birth to the Son of God. I could not believe what I was hearing. I had never known a man. How could this be?”

“I do not understand,” said Rebecca’s little sister.

“You will when you get older. Your mother will explain it to you.”

That seemed to satisfy her, so Mary continued.

“He told me that the Holy Spirit would come to me and that I would conceive. The whole time I was thinking, “Why me? How can this be? I have not known a man! Surely there are others more worthy than me!” We were a typical Hebrew family. We observed the Sabbath and the Passover. We did our best to live according to the law. I did not understand it.”

“What happened?”

“The angel left, the brightness went away, and there I stood. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was also afraid to go to bed. I finally went to bed and during the night I awoke sensing something had happened. At that moment I knew I was with child.”

“Great grandmother, such big words! We do not understand!”

“I am sorry. I forgot how young you are. It means I was going to have a baby.”


“The next morning I got up to a new problem. Your great-grandfather, Joseph, and I were betrothed. That means we were getting married. How was I going to tell him what happened? How was I going to tell him I was pregnant? Would he believe me? Having a baby before marriage was forbidden. According to our customs, he could have backed out of the marriage. It would not have gone well for me. I might have been stoned to death.”

“Stoned to death! What did you do?”

“The only thing I could do. I told him. I can still see his face in my mind’s eye. He never said a word. He left me wondering what would happen. He went home to think, and that night an angel told him in a dream to marry me and raise the child as if it was his own. The angel told him to name the baby Jesus. Your great-grandfather and I were married not long after that.”

A relieved look came over the children’s faces.

“It was not easy. People would look at my growing belly, and then count how many days we had been married. They were trying to see if we had sinned. We did not care. We knew it would all work out. We settled into a house in Nazareth, and your great-grandfather opened his carpenter shop. We were so happy. We would lay in each other’s arms and talk about the baby. Silly things like what would he look like. We knew he would have some of my features, but that was it. Joseph would come up behind me, place his arms around me, and then rub my belly. I can still see the look of astonishment on his face when the baby kicked me. It was a good time,” she smiled while remembering.

“Did great-grandfather build nice things in his shop?”

“Oh, yes, his tables and benches were something everyone wanted. Shall I go on with my story?”

“Yes, please,” came the answer.

“I was heavy with child when a decree was announced that everyone had to be registered in a census. That means the rulers wanted to know how many people there were. In order to do so, we had to go to Bethlehem. Since your great-grandfather was of the house and lineage of David, we had no choice but to go there.”

“Who is David?”

“A mighty king that lived many years ago. He found favor in God’s eyes.”


“We packed up our belongings and left. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. A more uncomfortable journey I can not recall! I despised our donkey! It felt like every jolt or bump was going to shake the baby loose. And my back hurt terribly! When we finally got to Bethlehem, we discovered that lodging was impossible to find. We were not the only people in Bethlehem for the census. Your great-grandfather went from inn to inn and failed to find a place that would take us in.”

“What did you do?”

“There was only one inn left in Bethlehem where we had not stopped. He went in and asked. He came back and told me that the inn was full. He told them that I was about to deliver. They told him there was a stable behind the inn we could use.”

“A stable! Yuck!” said the brother.

“It was not bad and we were glad to get it. We were getting desperate, and I was in such pain I would have been happy anywhere. While your great-grandfather was lifting me off the donkey, I noticed a star overhead. It was beautiful and much larger than any of the others. I was fascinated. I had never seen it before and wondered if it had anything to do with the birth. He got me inside and made me comfortable on a bed of straw. I remember it being cold. Later that night, Jesus was born.”

“Did it hurt?”

“Yes, but it was all right. I felt so sorry for Joseph. He had no clue how to help me deliver the baby. He had seen livestock give birth before, but this was something different. It turned out all right, but I can still see the look on his face. It was priceless.” Mary smiled while remembering, “It overwhelmed me! I had given birth to the Messiah, the Son of God. Me a young Hebrew girl. It was hard to comprehend.”

“Great grandmother!”

“I did it again, I am sorry. Comprehend means understand.”

They nodded and she continued.

“I wrapped Him in swaddling clothing to keep him warm. Your great-grandfather found a small manger, filled it with straw, and I placed Him there. I was exhausted and wanted to sleep, but was not able to because later that night some shepherd boys arrived, wanting to see the baby. They were so excited. They told us that an angel had told them about the baby. They had left their flocks and come to us. I have always wondered if their sheep were safe.”

“Tell us more please.”

“Are you getting tired? We can finish this later.”

“No, we can stay awake.”

“All right. While we were in Bethlehem wise men came to worship Jesus. They called him the King of the Jews. They brought lavish and expensive gifts to Him. There was gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all very expensive things. After they left I could not help but think about it. My son was the King of the Jews. What does it mean? He was only a baby. I did not understand it.”

“What is frankincense and myrrh?”

“They are fragrances used for healing, among other things. Only the wealthy can afford them.”

The children nodded their heads.

“On the eighth day, we circumcised Jesus. Do not ask me what it is. Every Hebrew boy has it done to him. Then we packed up to leave Bethlehem. A ruler, named Herod, found out about Jesus and decided he wanted to kill Him. Your great -grandfather said the safest place for us was Egypt. There we stayed until Herod died. Then an angel appeared to us and told us to go to Israel and settle in Nazareth. Later we were told that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.”

“What is a Nazarene?”

“It is what you call a person who lives in Nazareth. We settled in and reopened the carpentry shop. Joseph was good at his craft, and we were very busy. When Jesus was old enough you would find him in the shop helping him. He was bright and learned the craft easily.

He was such a good boy. We never had a problem with Him. Often we would find Him sitting by Himself, staring off into the distance as if in deep thought. More than once I started to question Him and at the last minute changed my mind. I was a little afraid to do it. I thought to myself how do you question the Son of God? How do you question someone who already knows all the answers?”

“Was He kind? What was He like?”

“What a question! Was He kind? He was the most sensitive person I have ever met. You could see it in His eyes. If I needed something done I hardly ever had to ask. It was as if He could read my mind. Everybody talked about it. What was He like? He was a wonderful little boy. He made friends easily and everybody liked Him. But there was something else there. There was a sense of urgency to Him as if He was waiting for something to happen. Little did His great grandfather and I know.”

“What was it?”

“In due time, in due time.” Every year we made the journey to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Do you know what that is?”

They again nodded their heads yes.

“I will never forget His twelfth year. We had gone to the Feast, observed and enjoyed all the customs, and departed for home. We had gone on a day’s journey and camped. That is when we discovered He was not with us. We were traveling with family members and that is where we thought He was. I panicked. I had no idea where He was and the roads were not safe to travel by yourself.”

“What did you do?”

“We turned around and went back to Jerusalem. We had to find Him. Jerusalem was a huge city and He was only twelve years old. We frantically searched for three days. We asked merchants, peddlers, and anyone that came across our path. We finally found Him on the third day. To our astonishment, He was at the temple, listening to the Elders and asking questions. I remember calling Him to me. I so desperately wanted to take Him in my arms and hold Him. I even scolded Him for the worry he had caused us. His answer was that He was about His Father’s business. I did not understand at first. I knew He was not talking about Joseph and carpentry. I then realized He was talking about His Heavenly Father. As relieved as I was to find Him, I was also a little angry because He did it. We immediately returned to Nazareth.”

“Did He get a whipping?” asked the brother.

Smiling, Mary answered, “No, I was happy that He was safe. I also knew that one day He would go about His Father’s business. It became a waiting game. Only He knew when the time was right. I knew not to ask. It was as if an unwritten rule had to be obeyed.”

“Great grandmother, what did Jesus look like?”

Taken back by the question, she smiled and answered, “Oh, He was handsome. He was tall and had light olive skin, dark brown curly hair, and brown eyes. He looked a lot like Joseph. I wondered about it for a long time, then realized the Holy Spirit made sure Jesus looked like both of us. His eyes were His best feature. You could get lost in His eyes. They say a person’s eyes are the doorway to their soul. I believe it. In His eyes, you could see everything; compassion, understanding, and most of all, you could see love, honest, all-knowing love. It made you want to be around Him all the time.”

“I wish I could have known him,” sighed Rebecca.

“Maybe you will meet Him one day.”


“As I recall, nothing of any real importance happened until He was around thirty years old. Joseph and I could tell by His actions His time was drawing near. One day He hugged me, kissed my cheek, told me He loved me, and left us. I knew His time had come and it about broke my heart when he left. I knew it was of no use to try and stop Him. He had a destiny to fulfill.”

“What is destiny?”

“It is where you know there is something you have to do.”


“I tried to keep track of Him. We heard that he had been baptized by John the Baptist. That is when His ministry began. I so wanted to go with Him, but I could not leave your great-grandfather and all the children. I had to be satisfied with what information I gleaned from all our friends. It was so hard and my heart ached for Him. Whenever he was near I went to see Him. He would acknowledge me, but that was all. I got the impression He was in a hurry as if something was pushing Him.”

“I cannot imagine my father not wanting to see me,” Rebecca softly said.

“Your father is not the Son of God. There is a big difference between them.”

Rebecca nodded her head and listened.

“I can remember when rumors of Him doing miracles came to me. All I could think was, “My son doing miracles? How? Does He have that much power?” I had to go see for myself. I cried as I watched Him restore sight to the blind, heal the lame, and cleanse a leper. He acted like it was the easiest thing in the world to do. He also had patience. The multitudes thronged him and would not leave Him alone.”

“Great grandmother!”

“I’m sorry. I mean the people followed Him everywhere. They would not leave Him alone.

“I understand,” came the reply.

“Then He called men to help Him. They were called disciples, mostly fishermen and common laborers. I did not understand why until much later. It dawned on me that they were to carry on His ministry after He was gone. At that moment it hit me. He was going to leave us. The rulers were intimidated and a little afraid of Him. He was betrayed by one of His disciples, judged, and condemned to be crucified.

Who betrayed him? And what does crucified mean?”

A disciple named Judas. They paid him thirty pieces of silver to betray him. They took him before Pontius Pilate and he was found guilty. They stripped Him and beat him with a cat of nine tails. That is a whip that has nine long pieces of leather attached to it. Each piece has broken pieces of pottery, metal chunks, and rock fastened to it. Its purpose was to rip pieces of flesh from a person’s body. He was disfigured so badly, He was almost unrecognizable. Then He was forced to carry His cross on His shoulder up Golgotha to be crucified. It was horrible. He was too weak to go all the way, so the Roman soldiers forced a man to carry it for Him. Then they mocked Him, cast lots for His clothing, and crucified Him.

The children began to cry as their great-grandmother struggled to go on.

“Being crucified is the cruelest way to die there is. You are nailed to a cross and left to die,” she replied with tears in her eyes, “that is what they did to my son. And He endured it willingly. I believe He knew He was going to die. I believe He knew He had to die. It was all a part of a Master Plan.”

“I do not understand.”

“He died for our sins. He took our sins to the cross with Him. When He died, He made a way for us to go to Heaven.”

Mary could see the confused look on their faces.

“One day you will understand. Even I have to stop and think about it from time to time.”

“Did you see it happen?”

“No, your grandfather, Simon, and his brothers would not let me. They said it would be more than I could bear. They were probably right. I did go to the cross afterward. My tears stained the ground where I stood. It breaks my heart to think about it. My son died on that cross. He died for you and me.”

She began to softly cry. Her great-grandchildren put their arms around her, hugged her, and cried with her.

“When they lowered the cross we took His body, prepared it, and laid it to rest in a sealed tomb. I said goodbye and left. I cried for three days. Then Mary Magdalene, Joanna, myself, and some other women were walking by the tomb and noticed that the tomb was open. The stone had been rolled away. We stopped and stared in disbelief. How could this be? Curious, and also afraid, we cautiously approached. it was empty! Where was His body? Who took it? Suddenly two angels appeared and declared Jesus has risen from the dead.

“Where was His body?”

Mary smiled and answered, “He arose from the dead. He is alive and now in Heaven. At first, I did not understand it. How could He come back from the dead? Then it dawned on me. He is the Son of God! Of course, He is alive. We had to go tell the disciples. They did not believe us at first and then He came to them. I was told He stayed with them for a short time, and then He ascended into Heaven.”

“Is He in Heaven now?”

“Yes, He is there. He is waiting for us to join Him there.”


“If you accept Him as your Savior you will meet Him one day. I know it is a lot to understand. When you get older I will explain it better. All of these years I have thought about the part I played in His life. I am proud I am His mother. I gave birth to the Messiah, the Son of God. Why the Father chose me? I have no idea. But I am glad He did. I am so glad He did. I held God in my arms. What other mother can claim that? Indeed, what other mother. That is my story. A story that I am proud of.”

“Thank you for telling it. It is wonderful.”

“I agree. Now go play.”

March 4, 2021