Unafraid: Mary

All eternity had been waiting for this moment. God chose one woman: Mary.

Meet Mary, one of the most revered women in history. She was an ordinary woman striving to please God in the same way that women still do today. But when God spoke, Mary responded in simple obedience. And God chose her to bear the long-awaited Messiah. She couldn’t know that raising the perfect son would break her heart and change the world forever. She was destined to play the most important role of all in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Includes an in-depth Bible study, perfect for personal reflection or group discussion.

“Award-winning Rivers provides a fresh look at the historical Mary in much the same way Ellen Gunderson Traylor (Mary Magdalene, Mark) and Thom Lemmons (Daughters of Faith series) have done with other biblical figures. A solid addition to all collections.”
—Library Journal

“Rivers’ writing… is excellent.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Rivers] succeeds admirably in presenting Mary from her birth as another unwanted girl child to a somewhat rebellious teenager, as the loyal wife of Joseph, and as the mother not only of Jesus, but of other children as well. Rivers skillfully depicts a flesh-and-blood Mary with strong emotions, willful, sometimes confused, but not afraid of God’s plan for her… Using spare, readable prose, Rivers conveys Mary’s heartbreak at the realization that Jesus was never really her son and that he must fulfill his destiny on the cross. This is a memorable, moving story that makes human one of our greatest Christian icons.”
Historical Novels Review

“Readers will find this book worth reading more than once, and definitely a great gift idea.”
RT Book Reviews


Mary sat alone beneath a mustard tree, her hands covering her face. Did all brides feel this way when the contracts were signed, gifts given, and futures sealed by the will of others? She trembled at the prospect of life with a man she hardly knew, other than as a man admired and befriended by her father upon his arrival in Nazareth three years ago.

“He’s of our tribe, Anne,” Joachim had announced after meeting Joseph at the synagogue. “And descended from the royal line of David.”

“Is he married?” Her mother cast an eye toward Mary.

Thus had plans for her future been set in motion, for her father was quick to find out that Joseph was looking for a wife from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David, a young woman of unquestioned virtue and faith. Mary knew their ambitions. Mary’s older sister was married to a Nazarene, and her parents hoped to marry their younger daughter to another man of their own tribe. And of course he must be devout, kind, and able to provide a good home for her and any children she might give him. So they invited the carpenter to their home frequently, and Joseph was receptive to their hopes.

“Why did he not seek out a young woman in Bethlehem?” Mary had asked her mother once.

“Why ask such questions?” Her mother had been impatient. “Just accept that God sent him here to Nazareth.”

Her father had been less inclined to believe that God would be intimately involved in the personal life of a humble carpenter or a poor man with failing health and a daughter soon of marriageable age. “Joseph needs work like anyone else, and Sepphoris is growing. Carpenters and stoneworkers can earn more money there than in Bethlehem.”

The men had begun to discuss a match, but when her father died, Mary’s future was left for her mother to settle. And she intended to settle it sooner rather than later.

“Your father wanted to give you more time, Mary,” she had said, “but time can be an enemy. You are ready to marry, and, considering our circumstances, there’s no time to waste. I’ve already spoken to Joseph, and he has agreed to take you as his wife. All will be well now, Mary. We will not be left to fend for ourselves.”

Now, sitting beneath the mustard tree, Mary buried her face in her arms. Would they have been left to fend for themselves? God promised to care for those who put their faith in him. Mary believed the Lord’s promises.

All she had ever wanted was to be close to the Lord. Her heart yearned for him. She longed for him as a deer panted for streams of water. How she wished she’d been among the people delivered from Egypt. How blessed they’d been to see God’s miracles, to hear the Law for the first time, to see water spring from a rock, and to taste the manna from heaven. Sometimes she almost wished she had been born a man. Then she could have gone to the desert cliffs of Qumran and dedicated her life to God.

Was it youth that made her restless? Her deep thirst for the Lord frustrated her. How could she love the Lord God with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength if she was to be given to a man? How could she love God fully and still give proper honor to her husband?

And yet she understood the practicality of marriage. Women were vulnerable. How often she heard the hoofbeats of Roman soldiers approaching her little village of Nazareth. Countless times she had seen them at the well, filling their waterskins. Then they took whatever foodstuffs they needed from the resentful, downtrodden citizenry. Sometimes they took young women as well, leaving them abused and ruined. Life could become unbearable for an unprotected woman, especially a young one. Mary’s mother had taught her to run and hide when she heard the sounds of horses or marching feet. Her heart squeezed tight with anxiety, for she could hear them coming closer now.

Pax Romana had brought anything but peace to Israel, for Mary’s people fought Rome’s control. Wouldn’t it be wiser for her to remain unwed rather than to marry and bring children into such a world? Many Hebrews fought against Hellenistic influences with all their being, nursing their grievances, fanning their hatred into violence. Others turned traitor, rejecting the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and adopting the customs of their conquerors.

Where was God in all this? Mary knew he was as powerful now as he had been when he created the world. Was she disloyal to wonder if her people had brought this wretchedness upon themselves? She knew the history of her people. She knew how God had disciplined them in the past in order to make them turn back to him. Why must Israel repeat her cycles of disobedience, generation after generation? And how much longer would it be until God once again sent a deliverer?

For as long as Mary could remember, she had heard her people crying out for rescue from Roman oppression.

Someday the Lord would send the deliverer, the one promised after Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, the one who would make all things right, all things new. The Messiah. Every day Mary prayed for him to come . . . as she prayed now, sitting beneath the shade of the mustard tree, struggling with questions beyond her ability to understand. Torn by the turbulent world around her as well as her own now-settled future, Mary cried out for a savior.

Oh, Lord, when will you send us a deliverer? Rescue us from the foreign oppressors who carry golden idols, arrogantly proclaiming their capricious emperor a god!

She must cease this struggling. She would be wed to Joseph. The matter was settled. Mary honored her mother and would obey.

Oh, Lord God of Israel, I don’t understand these things. Is it wrong to want to belong to you? My soul longs for you. Help me to be obedient, to be a proper wife to Joseph, for you are sovereign and must have chosen this man for me. Make me a woman after your own heart. Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.

A strange tingling sensation spread over her skin. Her hair prickled as she raised her head and saw a man standing before her. Heart thumping with terror, she stared at him, for she had never seen anyone like him before. Was it merely the sun at his back that made him look so terrifying?

“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Trembling, she sat still and silent, wondering at his words. She shut her eyes tightly and then opened them again. He was still standing there, looking down at her with kind patience. What did his greeting mean? Were not all God’s chosen people favored? And why did he say the Lord was with her? Was he the Lord? Fear filled her, and she closed her eyes again, for surely anyone who looked upon the Lord would die.

“Don’t be frightened, Mary, for God has decided to bless you!”

A sob welled up inside her throat, catching her off guard, for she wanted nothing more than to please God! But the Lord knew how undeserving she was. She blushed, remembering that only the moment before, she had resisted the idea of marrying Joseph, though he loved God as much as she. And now, this man said precious words that filled her with joy!

The stranger drew closer, his head inclined toward her. “You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus.”

Jesus. The name meant “the Lord saves.”

The angel was still speaking. “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary swallowed, her mind whirling with the implications of his words. He was telling her she would bear the Messiah! As soon as the words were uttered, she felt attacked by a chorus of dark voices.

You? Why would the Lord choose anyone so low? The Messiah will not come from some Nazarene peasant girl. What evil is this, that one so unworthy should dare imagine she could bear the Messiah! Ignore this madman. Look away from him! Reject what he says. Close your eyes! Say nothing!

Yet another voice spoke, a quiet voice, a voice her heart recognized.

What is your answer, Mary?

She stood, tilting her head as she looked up at the angel. “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”

The angel smiled tenderly. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary drew in her breath with a smile and clasped her hands. Oh! She knew how Elizabeth had always longed for a child. Nothing was impossible with God! Elizabeth would be like Sarah, who bore Isaac in her old age. She would be like Hannah, dedicating her son to the Lord. The news made Mary’s faith leap. She wanted to race to Elizabeth and see this miracle for herself, but the angel stood in front of her, silent, waiting for her answer.

If she said yes, she would become the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Why the Lord had chosen her to be part of his plan she couldn’t even guess. She was uneducated, poor, and lived in an obscure village that most Jews disdained. Yet she also knew from listening to Scripture readings in the synagogue that God often used the most unlikely and unworthy to fulfill his purposes. It didn’t matter who she was. God would accomplish his purposes in his way. The angel of the Lord was asking her to be part of God’s plan. And everything within her heart and soul cried out a joyous yes.

Do you really think you can be the Messiah’s mother? Do you think you will know how to rear God’s Son to be king over Israel? The dark voices again.

No. I won’t, her heart answered. But God will.

Gathering her courage, Mary looked up. “I am the Lord’s servant.” She spread her hands. “And I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.”

As soon as she made her decision, the angel was gone. She uttered a soft gasp of dismay. She would have thought she imagined the entire episode had not the air still trembled around her. Shaken, she clutched her hands against her chest until she remembered the angel of the Lord had said not to be afraid. Letting out her breath softly, she knelt and lifted her face to heaven. She lifted her hands, palms up. Lord, your will be done.

Her skin tingled strangely as she saw a cloud coming down. She placed her hands over her heart as she was overshadowed. Closing her eyes, she breathed in the scent of spring flowers, earth, and the heavens. Her skin warmed as her body was flooded with sensation. She drew in her breath and held it. For one brief space in time, nothing moved; no sound was heard as all creation paused.

Within the womb of a poor peasant girl from an obscure village in Galilee, God the Son became one with the seed of Adam.


Joseph glared at Mary. “How can you expect me to believe such a story?” All his hopes for a bright future were demolished. He would never have thought a girl like Mary—so young, so sweet, so devout—could betray him in so foul a manner. Pregnant! He was attacked by emotion, shaken by it. He shut his eyes, fighting against the violent thoughts filling his mind: Denounce her! Cast her aside! Report her to the rabbi! Have her stoned!

“No!” he cried out, putting his hands over his ears. He opened his eyes and saw Mary’s mother, Anne, cowering and weeping in the corner.

Only Mary was calm. “You will believe, Joseph.” She looked up at him, her dark eyes innocent. “You will. I know you will.”

How could she appear so calm when, with one word, he could have her killed?

“There is only one way a woman conceives.”

“For God, anything is possible.”

“And God would choose you to bear the Messiah?”

She laughed at his sarcasm, her face filled with joy. “Hasn’t God always chosen the weak to confound the strong? Oh, Joseph.” She clasped her hands, excitement radiating from her. “Think of him. God never chooses as man would choose.”

“I can’t believe this. I can’t! It defies all reason!” He had to get out of this house. He couldn’t look at her and think clearly.

“Joseph!” Anne rose and came after him. “Joseph! Please!” She cried out as he went out the door and left it ajar behind him. “Joseph!

He ducked around the corner and walked quickly away, heading up a narrow street toward the end of town. He didn’t want people noticing he was upset and asking questions. He had to think!

Out of sight of Nazareth, he wept. What should he do now? Forget she was the daughter of a man who had befriended him, a man who was of his own tribe? Could he ignore the fact that she was pregnant with another man’s child? She had committed a sin of abomination! She was unclean! If he married Mary now, people would point the finger at him. Both their reputations would be ruined. The gossip would circulate for years to come. And when the child was born, what then? Everyone would know he was conceived before the wedding ceremony, and would whisper behind their hands as he passed.

Why were women such weak vessels, so easily deceived? He kicked the dirt angrily. Who could have done this to her? Who would dare take advantage of an innocent, fatherless girl? And why would she concoct such a ridiculous, outlandish lie to cover up her sin? He grimaced. An angel came and told her she was to bear the Son of God! What man in his right mind would believe such a story?

When Joachim had offered Mary to him, Joseph thought he’d been offered a future and a hope. Now, he held disaster in his hands. If he exposed her, he would have to stand by and watch the daughter of Joachim stoned to death for the sin of fornication. And the child she carried would die with her.

Yes! Do it! rasped the dark foreign voice. Why shouldn’t she die for betraying you and her father? Why shouldn’t she be cut off from Israel for rejecting the Law you live by? Kill her! Kill the child!

The violence in his thoughts frightened Joseph and he cried out, “Oh, God, help me! What should I do? Why do you throw this catastrophe at my feet? Haven’t I tried all my life to do right? to live according to your law?” He sat, dragging his fingers through his hair. Gritting his teeth, he wept angrily. “Why, Lord? Make me understand!”

The sun set, but he was no closer to an answer. Weary, Joseph rose and walked back to town. The streets were empty, for it was late and everyone had returned home. He entered his workshop and sat at his worktable. He’d never felt so alone. “Where are you, God? Where are you when I need your counsel?” He considered going to the rabbi for advice, but rabbis could not always be trusted to keep confidences. Joseph wanted no one else to know about Mary until he had decided what to do. He ran his hand over the yoke he had been carving, then picked up his tools. Perhaps work would ease his mind.

Who was he to condemn Mary?

Joseph followed the Law, but he knew in his heart that it was only on the surface. Beneath the dutiful hours in synagogue, the giving of tithes and offerings, his heart was rebellious against the yoke of Rome, the yoke of corrupt rabbis, and the weight of the Law itself. How could any man help it? Sin taunted Joseph every time he saw a Roman soldier mocking a woman at the well, or a rabbi haranguing some poor widow for her tithe, or a rich patron who ignored what was owed for work rendered, or a beggar who cursed him when he had no money to give. Though Joseph had taken countless lambs to the Temple in Jerusalem for sacrifice over the years, he had never felt completely cleansed of sin. The blood of the sacrificial lamb covered it over, and then he’d sin again. He wanted to do right, but he found himself failing again and again.

Stretching out on his pallet, Joseph flung his arm over his eyes, still undecided what action to take regarding Mary. The Law was clear, but his heart was torn. He closed his eyes, hoping sleep would enable him to think more clearly in the morning. But his sleep was tormented by nightmares. He heard angry voices and a girl screaming. He cried out, but when he tried to run, his feet sank into sand. As he struggled, darkness surrounded him and someone spoke from it. Kill the girl. Kill her and the spawn she carries!

“Joseph, son of David,” came another voice he’d never heard before, but knew instantly. A man in shimmering white stood above him. “Do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Joseph absorbed the words, his soul trembling with delight. All his life he had heard people talk of the coming Messiah. Since the time of David, the Jews had waited for another king to triumph over Israel’s enemies. And more than that, the promised Messiah would reign over all the earth. Now the time had come, and God was sending the Anointed One. And Joseph would see him. He would stand at the side of the Messiah’s mother and protect the Chosen One as his own son.

You, a simple carpenter, stand as guard? Dark laughter surrounded him, and Joseph moaned in his sleep. I will kill them. And you, if you stand in my way.

Joseph groaned again and rolled onto his back. He opened his eyes and felt the darkness around him. Fear gripped him, until a whisper pierced it.

He will save his people from their sins. . . .

Joseph’s longing for righteousness welled up in him like the thirst of a man lost in the desert. And he remembered the words of his ancestor, David, whispering them into the darkness: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. . . . I will not be afraid of the terrors of the night, for God will order his angels to protect his Son. The Lord himself will guard him.”

The darkness rolled back, and Joseph saw the stars through his window. He stared at them for a long while. Smiling, he went back to sleep.


Anne wept in relief, but Mary seemed not the least surprised by Joseph’s decision to marry her quickly. In fact, she crossed the room and put her hand on his arm, surprising him with a demand. “I must go to my relative Elizabeth.”

Her mother protested. “Why would you want to go there? The hill country is a hard journey—”

“Oh, Mother, it doesn’t matter. Elizabeth is with child!”

“Don’t be ridiculous! She’s long past her time of bearing children.”

“The angel told me she’s with child.”

“And what do you suppose people will say when you suddenly marry Joseph and then go off to the hill country of Judea?”

“What does it matter what people say if it’s the Lord’s will I go?”

Joseph saw how the journey could solve several problems. The angel had said nothing about announcing to the citizenry of Nazareth that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Messiah. What if the news did get out? What sort of dangers might present themselves to the child? When Mary’s pregnancy became apparent, there would be gossip. However, if they went on this journey together . . .

“As soon as we are married, I will take Mary to visit her relative.”

“People will talk,” Anne said.

Yes, people would talk, but the condemnation would be aimed at him rather than Mary.


When Mary’s pregnancy became apparent, some in Nazareth thought they now understood the reason for Joseph’s haste in marrying her. Women whispered at the well while the men shook their heads and clucked their tongues in the synagogue. What did anyone really know about Joseph, other than that he was a carpenter come from Bethlehem? Poor Joachim. The man had trusted the carpenter because he was a relative, a descendant of David. Surely Joachim’s bones were crying out now that it was evident Joseph had taken conjugal rights before those rights were due. Some went to the rabbi and insisted the couple be disciplined so that other young people wouldn’t think such behavior was condoned in Nazareth! The rabbi said Joseph had acted within his rights under the contract, gifts having been exchanged and documents signed.

A voice came out of the shadows at the back of the synagogue. “Will you not destroy the evil among you?”

The rabbi raised his head from the Torah. “Who speaks?”

“Does Scripture not say the Lord hates haughty eyes and a lying tongue?” The voice was deep and dark and familiar to many. “We must destroy the wickedness among us.” Men glanced at one another and voices began to swell as the accuser remained in the shadows. “Who is this carpenter who defies the Law? Who is this girl who plays the harlot?”

A man stood, face flushed. “He’s right!” Others joined in agreement.

Chilled, the old rabbi raised his hands. “The Law also says there shall be two witnesses. Let them come forward.”

A low rumble moved through the gathering of men, but no one moved. Men looked about. Trembling, the rabbi rolled open the Torah. “The Lord also hates a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.” He spoke quietly, but the words carried.

The accuser departed.

Soon after, all gossip regarding Joseph and Mary died when Roman soldiers arrived in Nazareth carrying a decree from Caesar Augustus. A census of all who inhabited the earth was being taken. Men cried out in dismay. Did this Roman “god” realize what chaos his decree would create? For the order was that everyone must return to the village of his birth in order to be counted.



Read the following passage:

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May whatever you have said come true.” And then the angel left.

LUKE 1:26-35, 38

  • From the above passage, what do we learn about Mary? (e.g., She was from Galilee.)
  • According to Gabriel’s greeting, what was God’s attitude toward Mary?
  • How did Mary respond to the angel’s greeting?
  • Gabriel reassured Mary and proceeded to explain his mission. List the things he revealed to Mary regarding herself. And what does he tell Mary about the child?
  • Mary reminds the angel that she is a virgin and asks him how she can become pregnant. What additional information does Gabriel give her?
  • How does Mary respond?


According to the following passage from Scripture, God speaks to us today through his written Word.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

  • How is God’s Word useful to us?
  • Mary was alone and quiet when God spoke to her. God speaks to us in small, quiet ways today, but are we available to hear? List the things that might distract us and keep us from hearing him.
  • When you hear God’s voice, how do you respond?

Read Jesus’ words in the following passage from Scripture:

Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God. Since you don’t, it proves you aren’t God’s children.

JOHN 8:47

  • What reason does Jesus give for our not hearing God?


But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can’t understand us at all. How could they? For, “Who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who can give him counsel?” But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.


  • Do you have the mind of Christ?



Read the following passage:

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven— praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

LUKE 2: 1-20

  • Why were Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem?
  • When they were in Bethlehem, what happened to Mary? What details are given?
  • Angels visited the shepherds. What sign was given to the shepherds regarding the event? What was their response?
  • What was Mary’s response to the shepherds’ visit?
  • List all the evidence of celebration from the above passage.


  • The best laid plans often go awry. How do you handle interrupted plans?
  • Share a time when you had to “make do” with your circumstances.

Read the following verse:

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.


  • What do we learn from this verse?
  • Mary found reasons to rejoice and events to treasure even when her circumstances were not what she would have chosen. What causes you to treasure things in your heart?


We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.


How can we understand the road we travel? It is the Lord who directs our steps.


Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

PSALM 119:105

  • Do you trip over—or treasure—interruptions?



Magi from the East came seeking the newborn baby. Following a star, they arrived in Bethlehem. Read the following passage about their arrival:

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, “Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother.

MATTHEW 2:10-15, 19-21

  • When the magi arrive, what do they do?
  • What gifts do they bring the child?
  • After the magi leave, to whom does the angel appear? And by what means?
  • What is the angel’s message?
  • What does Joseph do and when?
  • Sometime later, the angel appears again. What event gave rise to this second appearance, and what was the message this time?
  • How do Joseph and his wife, Mary, respond this time?


  • How do you handle the recognition and praise of people who are close to you?
  • How do you respond to the praise of people you do not know well?

Read the following Scripture passage:

Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.


  • According to the above verses, what should our attitude be?
  • Mary willingly complied/obeyed when asked to be uprooted and moved. How do you handle major changes in your life?


Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.


  • Do you trust God and where he may be leading you?



Read the following passage:

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was with friends among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him. He was in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, discussing deep questions with them. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son!” his mother said to him. “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “You should have known that I would be in my Father’s house.” But they didn’t understand what he meant.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored all these things in her heart.

LUKE 2:41-51

  • What annual event took the family to Jerusalem?
  • When did Mary and Joseph leave Jerusalem?
  • What were they unaware of and why?
  • Describe their search.
  • Upon finding Jesus, what did Mary say to her son? What did her son say to her?
  • We are told that Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what Jesus said to them. What is Mary’s response to all that happened?


  • Describe a time when, as a child, you were not where you were supposed to be. How did you feel?
  • How did your parents react?
  • What was your response to their reaction?

Read the following passage:

God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.” That is why we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

HEBREWS 13:5-6

  • There are all kinds of fear. Children may fear their parents when they have been disobedient; parents fear for the safety of their children, etc. What confidence does a child of God have when facing frightening circumstances?


You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

ISAIAH 26:3-4

  • Where do you place your confidence?



Read the following passage:

The next day Jesus’ mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother spoke to him about the problem. “They have no more wine,” she told him.

“How does that concern you and me?” Jesus asked. “My time has not yet come.”

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

JOHN 2:1-5

  • According to this passage, what event was Mary attending? Who else was there?
  • At the wedding, Mary noticed that the wine ran out. What did she do?
  • How does Jesus answer her?
  • How does Mary deal with her son’s reply?

Read about another time:

Once when Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, they couldn’t get to him because of the crowds. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.”

Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear the message of God and obey it.”

LUKE 8:19-21

  • What do we learn about Mary and Jesus’ relationship from this passage?
  • What appears to be happening to her relationship with her firstborn son?


  • Describe a time when you embarrassed yourself or a family member at a family event.
  • What did it do to your relationship?
  • How do you go about helping family members you think are on the edge of trouble?

Read the following passages:

Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody.

Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.


Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.


  • What do we learn about relationships and responsibility in the above verses?


So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.

And further, you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

EPHESIANS 5:15-17, 21

  • Are you thoughtless or considerate in your relationships?



Read the following passage:

Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Woman, he is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “She is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

JOHN 19:25-27

  • According to this passage, where was Mary? Who was with her at the crucifixion? Who was missing?
  • What does Jesus say to Mary?
  • What provision does Jesus make for her?

After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, his disciples gathered in
Jerusalem. Read the following passage:

The apostles were at the Mount of Olives when this [the Ascension] happened, so they walked the half mile back to Jerusalem. Then they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here is the list of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together continually for prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

ACTS 1:12-14

  • Where was Mary and what was she doing?
  • Besides the disciples, who was with Mary this time?

Finally, Mary is remembered for her obedient servant’s heart. In the Gospel of Luke, we find her song:

Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior!
For he took notice of this lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed.

For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me.

His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him.

His mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones!

He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.

And how he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful.

For he promised our ancestors—Abraham and his children—to be merciful to them forever.

LUKE 1:46-55

  • List the names and attributes of God that you find in this confession of Mary’s faith.


Of all the Gospel writers, John knew Mary best, and yet he wrote the least about her. It is in his Gospel that we read Mary’s last recorded words: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.” Since Mary said to do what Jesus tells us, let’s look at what Jesus has to say in the following passages:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.

There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.

JOHN 3:16-18

  • Contrast the choices that are before you.
  • What does Jesus offer you?

“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on you know him and have seen him!”

JOHN 14:1-7

  • What are Jesus’ instructions? What are his promises?
  • Who alone saves us?


Read the following words of Jesus:

Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends. I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.


  • Have you opened the door?