The Gospel of Mathew: When God Chooses You to Serve Him.  

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18 (ESV)

26 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26-27)

God chooses ordinary people to serve Him. People just like you and me. People just like a girl named Mary. How does God go about choosing people to serve Him? First of all, He finds you. What do we know about Mary? In light of our study of the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Luke provides some excellent insight.

To begin with, Mary lived in Nazareth. Nazareth was a town located approximately 22 miles east from the Mediterranean Sea and 15 miles west of the Sea of Galilee. It was located in the lower region of Galilee. It was surrounded by hills. It was known for bad morals and bad religion. It was a small town; not a capital but rather a village.

Nazareth had a reputation during the first century. The overall perspective of Jewish people at the time regarding Nazareth can best be summed up by Jesus’ disciple Nathaniel: “And Nathanial said to him (Phillip), Can anything good come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46)? Yet the Prophet Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. This was a Hebrew reference of the Messiah being from the “branch of David.” 

 Second, she was a virgin. The Greek word for virgin, παρθένον (parthenon), means an unmarried person, in this case a female. In other words, Mary had never engaged in sexual intercourse; voluntary or otherwise. She was a virgin in every sense of the word. Matthew’s Gospel will bear this out later on in our study.

Third, she was engaged or betrothed to a man named Joseph. The Jewish betrothal period, called the Kuddushin, was an arranged engagement. Their legally bound marriage ceremony had yet to take place. This was called the Huppa. It would be like our modern weddings and receptions. However, the celebration would often last seven days. This would be what Jesus and His disciples encountered when they attended a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11).

Mary and Joseph would not have had any physical relationship. They lived in separate homes. The Kuddushin lasted approximately a year. The purpose of this engagement period of time was to prove the fidelity of both individuals. Mary had been solemnly promised to Joseph. As noted, he belonged to the family of David (Matthew 1:1-17). In a real sense, they were “legally married.” If either partner proved unfaithful, or other problems arose, then a formal bill of divorcement was required to nullify the betrothal contract.

Mary could very well have been in her teens. Marriages and betrothals in the culture were arranged at a young age. Betrothals often occurred when girls were as young as twelve or thirteen. Perhaps because of her maturity, Mary could have been in her late teens. We can only speculate.

What about you? Where, when and how did God find you? What were the circumstances which led Him to not only convert you but to begin using you? Take time to reflect on God’s usage of you through the years. Thank Him for the privilege it is to serve the One, True God.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

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