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What Mary Knew

December 21, 2019

Another Way for week of December 20, 2019

What Mary Knew

There’s a popular and haunting contemporary Christmas song, “Mary Did You Know?” which explores the future of Mary’s tiny baby. The lyrics mention things that Mary has no way of knowing while awaiting the birth of Jesus, such as did she know her baby would walk on water? Mary’s thoughts in this song focus on the miracles and servant posture that the future Jesus would adopt as he grew to be a man.

I’d like to explore the earthy reality of what Mary might have known about her pregnancy after the heavenly visitation she received announcing her dramatically changed future (found in the first chapter of Luke).

Mary, to say the least, was at first “greatly troubled” at the angel Gabriel’s revelation.

She knew that being pregnant and unwed in that time and era—was pretty much the end of her normal life, if not her actual life. She knew she could be stoned.

She knew that at the very least her betrothal to Joseph would be over. She knew he was a good man, but even good guys could hardly be expected to understand or deal with her out-of-this-world revelation.

She knew her family would likely disown her, making her flight to the home of a relative, Elizabeth, not surprising. Afterall, if her elderly relative was also with child, maybe it was really true as the angel said, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary knew it would be extremely difficult to make a life for herself and the baby, and until Joseph’s own vision/dream/revelation occurred, she surely alternated between tears, depression, and wisps of hope.

She didn’t know how what the angel said about having a baby was even possible for her. We still don’t know.

Yet what did Mary do with this heavy announcement and knowledge? She rejoiced and sang a song of praise to her God. She was young, she was open to the spiritual, she may have been a bit of a mystic. She accepted the gift that God had given her as the Jewish mother of a special baby with an unknown future. What child was this to be?

As the days drew nearer for her to actually give birth, Mary must have been filled with frustration and anxiety about making the long journey to Bethlehem for the census. Where would they stay? Why did she have to go, anyway? Couldn’t Joseph just go? What would happen if the baby came—or was harmed— after such a jostling journey on a donkey’s back? We like to imagine that traveling with relatives as they likely did, she would have had female friends and family to help her, but the Luke passages do not indicate that.

She surely had no idea of what lay ahead for the baby or herself and Joseph. Her visit to Elizabeth, who was to become the mother of the prophet John the Baptist (a relative and close friend of Jesus) perhaps foreshadowed the destiny for both these men: their gruesome deaths at the hands of kings and conspirators.

You say why ruin the Christmas season with these dark realities? Far from ruining the holiday, Christians know it was this birth, life, and death that ensures eternal and joyous life with God for all those who seek to serve and follow Jesus. It is this birth (not Santa Claus) we remember and celebrate in the coming days.

We give gifts at Christmas to enter into the spirit of the great gifts God gave us when we were created and given life. May you have a meaningful, thoughtful, and blessed Christmas.


What stories, thoughts, or ideas does this bring to mind?


For a different interpretation of Mary, and some hilarious but devoutly faithful scenarios from the nativity, enjoy any of numerous videos from Ted & Company including some of the original actors: Ted, Lee and Ingrid. We were privileged to see most of this live one year.


A blessed Christmas to you.


Send thoughts or comments to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  




One Comment
  1. Comment from Nick sent by email: Archeological and astronomical discoveries continue to to give insights into the Christmas story. Calculations show that the star of Bethlehem could have been the conjunction of three large planets of our solar system, which would look like a large new star.

    I wonder what parents of other children born at that time in civilizations around the world were thinking when they saw that star.

    Merry Christmas,

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