They Did Not Live Together
And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. Luke 1:56
When in her home in Nazareth, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel. He tells her that she will have a son named Jesus and that He is the Son of God. She is amazed at what the angel is saying, especially since she had not been married yet, and had never “known” a man in a sexual way. She was a young woman probably around 16 years of age at the time. In the past, girls would marry at younger ages than are recommended for today. She had never lived with anyone other than her parents with whom she was still living.
I have been to Mary’s childhood home in Nazareth (as pictured in photo above). Around Christmas, news casters may show a film of “The Church of the Annunciation.” If you see that, you are looking at the general location of where her home was located.
Before Gabriel tells her this amazing announcement, she was already excited because a young man, a distant relative named Joseph, had just been chosen to be her espoused husband. When couples were espoused to one another, the commitment was just as binding as marriage; the only way out of it was for a divorce. The difference is that they would not live together or be alone with each other for about a year until they “consummate” the marriage.
Evidently this gave time for the couple to be apart from one another and to ensure that the couple was being virtuous and moral in their relationship. It would also give time to the young man to get a good job, hold that job, get some land, build or buy a house, and simply be prepared for life. It would be a time for the young woman to more fully prepare for marriage. Some women would learn from other successful wives for long periods of time. That is what happens when Mary goes to see her cousin, the daughter of a priest and husband of a priest. Elizabeth was a good role-model.
Gabriel continues to amaze Mary with more news about Elizabeth who was already 6 months pregnant. Mary knew Elizabeth and her priest husband Zacharias had been trying to have a child for years and were past childbearing age. This was big news. Upon hearing the news of older cousin Elizabeth, that she was going to have a baby, Mary traveled a 3-4 day walk to the “hill country” outside of Jerusalem from her home in Nazareth.
While visiting, both Mary and Elizabeth are “filled with the Holy Spirit.” You can read what happens in Luke 1. After staying with Elizabeth and Zachariah for 3 months, Mary goes to her own home. Six months later baby Jesus is born. Joseph and Mary were about a 3-4 days walk away from each other when Mary was impregnated by the Holy Ghost.
Mary was a virgin when she delivered baby Jesus into the world, having never known a man before the birth of Jesus. This is a miracle in that God the Father gave us His Son. This Baby, Jesus, is “God in the flesh.” He was born into the world to be the perfect sacrifice so we humans can be forgiven of our sin when we trust in Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross.
Mary and Joseph did not live together when she became pregnant. When Mary walks back to Nazareth, Joseph has not seen her for 3 whole months. That is why he was considering “putting her away” (Matthew 1) because she was pregnant, this was embarrassing, and he knew that he was not the father.
When Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem for the census and ultimately for God’s will that Jesus be born there, they did travel together and apparently alone. She was already great with child at that point, and yet, she and Joseph did not “know” each other in a sexual way until after the birth of Jesus. God blesses Mary and Joseph with a few other sons and daughters in the following years.
Today, many couples of any age want to “live together” before being married. Some do not want to be married at all. They want to enjoy the benefits that marriage brings but not to commit to the responsibility marriage demands. If you are in a relationship with someone right now and you are living together “as if you were husband and wife” but have not made the commitment formally, you can do better. Hebrews 13:4 says: “Marriage is honourable in all and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
The man should step up and take the responsibility, not just take the benefits. The woman should be cherished more by the man and he should make the marriage commitment to her. Don’t let your partner “take” away from you. “Give” yourself to your partner in marriage.
To make the point, look at the contrast between Charlie Sheen and Tim Tebow. According to reports, Charlie now is HIV positive and has had immoral contact with as many as 1,400 women in the last 4 years. The girlfriend he promised to marry stayed with him for a long time, but after realizing that he was never going to marry him left. Or he kicked her out, depending on which one you talk to. Tim Tebow on the other hand has remained a virgin. Even though he is still seeking the one who he will marry one day, he can give to whoever she is, a trustworthy, non-selfish, pure-hearted, and non-disease infected man. Living together after the public vows and taking the commitment of marriage is God’s intention.
If you have already been having sexual relationships, but are not ready to be married yet, stop living that way and determine to remain abstinent until your wedding day. If you believe God has given you the one to marry, then find a local church pastor to help you get this marriage commitment settled. You can be more like Mary and Joseph who honored God’s plan for the home.
This Christmas, thank the Lord for the miracle of the birth of Jesus. This couple, Mary and Joseph, are a good example to us today. Because they did the right thing, they were in a position to be blessed.