Of all the women in the world, Mary was handpicked by God to be the vehicle to bring Israel's Messiah into the world. For centuries Israel had awaited the Redeemer spoken of by the prophets.
Then one day, God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman in nazareth whose profound faith and royal lineage made her the perfect vessel for His use. Gabriel told Mary, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women" (Lk 1:28). Unfortunately, much misinformation surrounds this blessed woman. What do we know about her that isn't based on misconceptions and church folklore?
First, Mary was Jewish. There were no Roman Catholics in Mary's time. There were only Jews-who worshiped the true and living God-and pagans, who worshiped idols.
Second, Mary was a direct descendant of King david through Bathsheba's son Nathan, from the tribe of Judah. Her lineage is recorded in the gospel of Luke. Mary's husband Joseph, descended from David and Bathsheba's son Solomon. He was the royal heir to a throne that had been desolate for almost 600 years. When Caesar Augustus decreed that people were to return to their ancestral homes for taxation purposes, both mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, David's hometown (1Sam 16:1, 4).
By then, thousands of years had passed since the Lord had promised to send a Redeemer through the "Seed of a woman to crush the head of Satan, t he serpent (Gen 3:15). As biblical revelation unfolded, the promise came to rest squarely on a female descendant of David who would (1) b a virgin (Isa 7:14), (2) bear a son (v.14), and (3) deliver that Son in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Mic 5:2).
As for her age, some speculate she was 12 to 15 and that Joseph was an older widower with children. However, scripture provides no basis for this theory. Nothing indicates Joseph was much older than mary or that he was previously married. And sound Bible scholars have placed Mary's age at 14 to 16.
Mary clearly knew the Hebrew scriptures and believed them. Nevertheless, when she saw the angel, she was "troubled," or alarmed (Lk 1:29). Of course she was troubled! Prior to an angel appearing to the priest Zacharias approximately six months earlier, there had been no prophetic vision, utterance, or prophet in Israel for 400 years. Then Gabriel told Mary, "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk 1:31-33, 35).
What a proclamation! Mary's son would reestablish the Israelite kingdom and reign on David's throne forever. He would be the Messianic hope her people had cherished since the days of the patriarchs. "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" she asked (v.34). Gabriel told her the Holy Spirit would "overshadow" her, and "that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (v.35).
Her response showed her absolute trust in the God of Israel: "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your words" (v.38).