Nazareth, Israel

There once was a very young girl named Mary. She lived in a very small pioneer-like town called Nazareth. It was in an area of Israel called Galilee. During this time all of Israel was occupied by the conquering nation, Rome.

Here is how Nazareth looks today...

Nazareth looked much different then. A few generations before Mary, her ancestors left their home to  occupy a desolate, outpost area of Israel in the region of Galilee.

Many others did the same. One family that left Bethlehem and relocated to Nazareth  was Joseph's family.

There were about 40 family, many relatives, living in the little hillside village of Nazareth at the time Joseph and Mary were espoused (sorta like engaged).

Mary was just an ordinary Jewish girl going about her devout Jewish life... until she got some astounding news!!!

Every Jewish girl during Mary's day probably wondered if she would be the ONE... the one God would choose to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah. They were waiting for God to send them a man that would rule... a king that would make Israel great and free them from oppression. I wounder if Mary ever thought SHE would be the ONE!

Church of the Annuncialion~ Nazareth Israel

One day an angel appeared to Mary... she, of course, was terrified! Who get's visits from angels? Well, Mary did!  The angel told Mary not to be afraid and that he had some news... good new from God.  He called her...

 "favored one".

Gabriel, the angel, told Mary that she would have God's son... but not just any ordinary Jewish son!

Inside the Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth Israel

Here is what the angel said, " And behold you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus,
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David (King):
and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever; and His kingdom will have no end." Luke 1:31-33

Amazing news! The long awaited King was finally coming to Israel... and Mary was to be His mother.

There was one problem... Mary was a virgin.

She asked "how can this be?'. 

The angel told Mary her virginity would stay intact and that this would be a conception brought on by the Holy Spirit... a miracle!  "For", the angel declared, "nothing is impossible with God".

Upper level inside the Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth Israel

And Mary, this sweet ordinary Jewish girl, had extraordinary faith! In belief she replied that she was a servant to God's will and however God wanted to use her she was willing.

Here are her exact words... they bring tears to my eyes every time I read them...

"Behold, the bondservant of the Lord; be it done to me according to Your word".

Worshipers in the lower level of the Church of the Annunciation~ behind the alter are the ruins of Mary's Nazareth home

As we read over this scripture we can skip the rich meaning of these verses.  In Mary's day... and deeply religious society she lived in... pregnancy before wedlock was a capital offense. I woman's purity was held in such high regard... because it was held in high regard by God!

 Mary was found espoused and pregnant.  Joseph at first thought the worst and was going to "have her put away" a way of saying he would not marry her. It was a huge disgrace and Joseph was a righteous man.

But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that marrying Mary was right... and that the child she was carrying was the Son Of God!

Mary's Nazareth home and probable sight of Gabriel's visit and good news

Joseph decided that he would marry Mary. But Joseph had a problem too! Now the worst was thought of him... he was also greatly disgraced and scorned by all in Nazareth because the natural conclusion was Mary's baby was his.

The bible tells us little about the personal life of Mary and Joseph, but this one story speaks volumes! The young couple started out their lives together disgraced and with a bad reputation. Probably shunned and feeling very alone! They were marked as unclean and unrighteous. Not a very good way to start life together in a small town!

 But their steadfast love for God and their devotion to the baby Mary was carrying is a testimony to their character. Character is usually shown in the face of adversity!

When I read the Annunciation story in Luke chapter one I always remind myself of the real life struggles of this young couple as they chose to obey God.

When we choose to obey God and be a bondservant we must walk in faith, like Mary, no matter what comes... even when bad thing happen to us!

Laced all through God's word are promises of protection, working things out for good ,not giving us more than we can bear, of Jesus being with us.... and on and on! No matter what, we must always trust, believe and obey God... just like Mary and Joseph.

And if we do... hopefully we will also be called... "favored one"!


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