During this season of the year, we have heard much regarding Mary and the angel coming to announce the coming Messiah. We have journeyed with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the visit of the shepherds, and the coming of the Magi. We tend to leave the story, and Jesus is left in Bethlehem, Mary disappears, the commercialism changes to the next holiday and life goes on with little thought of what did happen for the next thirty years, where we see the “Christ Child” appear at the river Jordan and asking John the Baptist to be baptized. However, we have just left thirty years of history.

I admit that both the Bible and secular history are pretty silent during this time. Take a mental journey with me as I attempt to trace these empty years.

For Mary, the mental and physical journey that she goes through, from the angels’ announcement until the birth of the Son of God in a manger in Bethlehem is incredible to think about. Any mother rejoices as her baby is born, healthy, and hers. How did Mary feel as she gave birth to this child that the angel had said would be God’s very Son and would rule over the house of David forever? Also, did she realize that this “baby” was not hers? She did not conceive it. The angel said, “…the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and you shall conceive in your womb…”. The baby was not hers but rather belonged to the ages and to God. She was merely the caretaker of this miracle. As the crowd disappears and the baby lies at her breast, how much of this miracle is she able to absorb?

The first activity of Mary and Joseph was a trip to the temple, where the Baby would be dedicated by the priest, along with an offering brought by Joseph and Mary. As they enter the temple, they are met by two people who seemed to be waiting for them. The first is Simeon. In the Gospel of Luke, it is said of this man that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death until he held the Messiah in his arms. As the parents of Jesus entered the Temple, Simeon took the child from Mary and said, “Now Lord thou dost let thy servant depart in peace according to thy Word; for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation whom you have prepared in the presence of all people, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of thy people of Israel.”

The parents of Jesus were amazed at this blessing by this unknown man. He blessed Mary and Joseph, then looking at Mary he said, “Behold this child is appointed for the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed-and a sword shall pierce even your own soul-to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Mary had no idea of the future of this child she held. The angel merely told her that He would be God’s Son and rule over the house of Israel forever. What did Simeon mean by a sword piercing her own heart?

They returned to Bethlehem where they received the news of King Herod’s anger when the Magi told him there had been another King of the Jews born, and they had followed His star to Bethlehem.

Joseph was warned in a vision that he was to take the child and his mother to Egypt for safekeeping until it became safe for them to return to Nazareth. It is a long journey from Bethlehem to Egypt. This period of time is oft-neglected. For me, it raises questions for which I seek solutions. How long were they in Egypt? Did the words of the angel that she heard in Nazareth still ring in her ears, or were there questions raised in her own mind? History gives us absolutely no information about this period of time. As I meditate on this, I wonder if Mary struggled with the same things I struggle with as I go through periods of time that seem meaningless to my overall purpose of life.

We have no record of how long Joseph kept Mary and Jesus in Egypt. We are merely informed that one day an angel came to Joseph, telling him that King Herod was now dead [a tragic death] and it was now safe for him to take Mary and Jesus back to Israel. Rather than a journey through Jerusalem, they journeyed to the west and returned to Nazareth.

The life of Jesus and His mother become blank for the next 12 years. Neither secular history nor the Bible give us any information how Mary may have raised this child. Did she focus every day on the fact that this child is not mine but belongs to God and is His Son?

The incident that is recorded in Luke 2:39 does not necessarily indicate that. Jesus had just turned 12 years of age. In today’s Jewish world, it would be time for his Bar-Mitzva, however, first-century Jewry did not practice that. Instead, Jesus was now old enough to participate in he Passover in the Temple in Jerusalem. History tells us that during this time the census of the City would swell to over one million people as they came for all over to celebrate this holy occasion. Among these travelers were Joseph, Mary and Jesus. The Passover was finished, and it was time to travel back to Nazareth, but as they set up camp for the night, Jesus was not among the group of travelers. As a mother, can you imagine being given the privilege of being the mother of the very Son of God, then losing this special child in a crowded city? Can you imagine the level of anxiety as Joseph and Mary hasten back to the city to look for Him? They looked for three days! Can you imagine these panicked parents running up and down the narrow streets of Jerusalem crying out, “we have lost the Son of God!” When they finally found Him, where was He? In the temple, discussing theology with the Rabbinical teachers! How carefully did Mary watch over this boy?

Another 20 years go by. Mary watches as “her boy” goes“ public. She observes the anger of the Jewish leaders as they listen to his claims of being the Son of God. Again, she harks back to the words of the angel that initially informs her of the birth of Jesus. I wonder if she remembers the words of Simeon when she had brought Jesus to the temple, when he said, “…a sword shall pierce your heart…”. Now, this Son, whom the angels sang about, whom the shepherd came to see, to whom the Magi had traveled so far to bring Him gifts, is hanging on a cross, a crown of thorns on His head. Her Son, whom she had birthed and held to her bosom, now dying.

His final words were addressed to his earthly mother. He commissioned the Apostle John to be her caretaker for the rest of her life. I wonder how Mary will respond in glory as she finally observes the finality of the angels’ message, ruling over the house of David forever.

Life goes on, and each of us is daily creating our own history.

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