What we don’t know about Mary and Joseph

It’s Christmas Eve. Probably most of  you are too busy to read a long post but maybe you can save it for later.

There’s so much we don’t know about the night Jesus was born, I hardly know where to begin.


What we DO know is that there is very little space given in the Bible to this story. And not all the gospels record it.

What we DO know is that Mary was about fourteen years of age.

We DO know that Joseph was from the line of David.

What we DO know is that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel (the same one visited Daniel) who proclaimed that although she had never had intimate relations with any man, was to bear a child.

We can assume she was like most Jewish women. Think about how Jewish women are portrayed. They are certainly not afraid to voice their opinion. She would also have spoken with a strong “country” accent common in that area.

Mary was probably not as meek as we like to think of her. She was strong enough to take off on her own without consulting anyone. She was strong enough to stand at the foot of the cross when her son died. That’s a strong woman.
Mary, mother of Jesus

What we DO know is that Mary left shortly after the visit from Gabriel and traveled to visit her cousin.


Did she leave a note? Did she tell Joseph she was leaving? There is no indication she did but there is also no indication she didn’t. What did she think about while she was away?  We can surmise that Mary would’ve reacted much the same any fourteen year old girl would have. She wasn’t human and divine like Jesus; she was only human.  We can assume she was confused and frightened in the beginning.

She stayed with Elizabeth for three months until John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin, was born. We don’t know exactly why she visited her cousin but I have a hunch.

There was only one person she could talk to and that was Elizabeth because she had experienced a miracle as well. Today we would call it “girl talk” but I don’t want to demean it that way, only to say she was probably desperate to talk it out with someone.

Wouldn’t you be?

The gospel of Luke tells us in 2:19 that Mary “kept all these things in her hearts and thought about them.”  I doubt there was a day she didn’t think about the angel’s visit.

Again, wouldn’t you?

Mary pondered/inspirational/Christmas

She and Joseph were married after she returned.

We don’t know how the town treated Mary when she returned home.

We don’t know if Mary told her parents.

We also don’t know how she was treated when she returned home from Bethlehem after giving birth. Did the children in the town make fun of Jesus? Was he bullied?

And then there’s is Joseph. He’s like a secondary figure in all this. We just know.

And yet, he taught his son his trade. He apparently loved and cared for Jesus. There is no reason to believe otherwise. He might be the true hero in this story.

We don’t know what happened on the journey Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem. I’ve often wondered what they talked about. Were they as excited as any expectant parents? Did they really believe they would leave Bethlehem with the Son of God cradled in their arms?



And, of course, the part that I’ve always wondered about is when did Mary and Joseph first notice sparks of the divine in their son? And how in the world did they respond to that? We know that at the age of twelve there was an inkling but what about before that? Did Jesus perform tiny little miracles that only his parents witnessed? Was there a unique kind of love emanating from Him?

We just don’t know.

We know he increased in knowledge. But what did that look like?

So many questions, so few answers.

Don’t you find it most interesting that in the Old Testament we are given such specifics about the ark, the temple, the military battles, the kind of wood used to make an ark….and yet given so little about the most important event in all of Scripture?

Maybe that’s why. Maybe we could never understand it. I mean, seriously, how does one understand a virgin birth? We can accept it and we can believe it. But understand it? We absolutely can not.

I’m reading a book called “The Greatest Story Ever Told” by Fulton Oursler. It was originally published in 1949. While it is not a translation of the Bible it is worth reading. It will spark your imagination. But if you don’t, tomorrow I’m going to post a few pages I took pictures of so you can read at lest some of it. I took them with my camera phone but you’ll be able read it.

I hope it blesses your heart.

God bless and have a wonderful Christmas Eve.


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