Little is known about Mary the mother of Jesus but perhaps there is more than we realise. People look back to the days of Mary to try to figure out what her age was and most people appear to agree that her generation would get married or engaged at the age of twelve for a girl and thirteen for a boy, this appears to be the common age that people got married back then. When you consider how many children the average couple had in those days then you are looking at anything above twelve or more children so a young girl in those days would start helping her mother from an early age, so if you were a girl and you were born into a large family then you would help mother look after all those new and upcoming children and you would learn all about motherhood from a very early age, this preparing you for motherhood yourself which could come as early as age twelve. You also have to consider the mother and the father in that people were often poor and so they would welcome their daughters and sons getting married at an early age.
It’s interesting when you think of Jesus at the age of twelve when his mother couldn’t find Him for three days, we would think that was terrible and perhaps irresponsible on the part of the parents and we would consider that Jesus was being some sort of a naughty boy but then when you consider that boys were considered old enough to get married at the age of twelve or thirteen then you picture Jesus as making more grown up decisions when He decided to disappear for three days and was found talking to the elders who it turns out were astonished at His understanding of scriptures and no-doubt true spirituality. So the picture you get of Mary is that we are clearly told that she was a virgin and also she was going to get married to Joseph so a lot of people speculate that she was as young as twelve or more when the Angel Gabriel visited her although most people find it unusual to even begin to suggest that she could have been as young as twelve years old and so it appears that the majority of people arrive at a more moderate age of sixteen or more.
When you look at the words that Mary spoke to her cousin Elizabeth then you see a very very spiritually mature person so Mary clearly had the spiritual maturity that was needed to be the mother of Jesus, she understood that God was all about mercy, she understood that the proud would find themselves scattered in their own imaginations and she also understood that it was the lowly and the hungry that would find God and that the mighty would be put down from their seats. She talked also of how her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour so she understood that she was spiritually dependant upon God for her salvation and she saw this as more important then the needs of her flesh. She had realised that her life was all about magnifying the Lord and not herself, she appears also to understand the history of her people and that they had always been looking to God for mercy ever since the days of Abraham and here she was talking to Elizabeth her cousin with Mercy, Jesus Himself, now growing in her womb and she would have been a matter of days pregnant.
A lot of the young girls of today’s world would see no beauty and no solution and no spirituality in the words of Mary, in today’s society most girls would find themselves more preoccupied with magnifying themselves rather than magnifying the Lord, this would all be alien to the modern girl and the modern girl growing up in a large family and learning how to look after babies in preparation for motherhood is becoming less and less common these days. And here we read of Mary who could very well have been as young as let’s say, twelve to sixteen, it is made clear to us that she was a virgin and of age to be able to get married as she was engaged to be married to Joseph; people generally agree that she was a young virgin and clearly she had never know a man; a young virgin makes sense because we are talking miraculous conception and if Mary was older then people might argue that she had perhaps known many men and the baby could have come from any one of them other than from God. One thing that the early life of Mary does point out to us all is how far away we all are from the truth and you could in no way picture a modern girl of the same age speaking the same words that Mary spoke to Elizabeth her cousin and having the same spiritual maturity, not to mention the motherhood maturity!
Another interesting thing about Mary is that we all have it drummed into us that she only had one child, Jesus, but the real truth is that Mary went on to have many children, Mary had as many as eight children or more in fact, this including Jesus! Four of Jesus brothers are mentioned in Matthew 13:55 where it says, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?” And then we read in the next verse of Jesus’ sisters that it says, “And his sisters, are they not all with us?” What is interesting about this verse when it talks about Jesus’ sisters is that it says “are they not all with us?” “All” would mean that you are talking about three or more sisters, you wouldn’t use the word “all” if you were talking about only two or more sisters.
So the picture you get is that Mary had quite a full life as a mother and, Jesus, contrary to popular opinion, grew up in a large family; most people picture Jesus growing up with just Mary and Joseph and living a kind of a quiet life and they picture Mary in a dream setting as being a simple sweet mother who simply looked after Jesus but the real reality was a lot different from that as she was no-doubt up to her neck in nappies (no disposables in those days!) with many many household chores to deal with and all those meals to cook and all those squabbles and disagreements and bickering’s that children have to sort out and sickness in the family etc. and all that shopping and washing to do and no-doubt teaching them all too by example as well as her words. Two of her children would also grow up to help write part of the New Testament and these two were Jude (Judas) and James and so she no-doubt brought her children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and we get the same sense of spiritual maturity from Jude and James as you do from Mary herself and who knows about all of her other children! You have to be realistic that some of her children may not have believed whereas some did; we have to remember the words of Jesus here that He came not to bring peace but a sword so in most families two or more might believe whereas three or more might not. Mary also was told when Jesus was only eight days old that a sword would one day pierce her soul, this appears to mean that she would one day witness the crucifixion of her first born Son!
Mary’s own words:
“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” (Luke 1:46 – 55)