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Don Stewart :: What Do We Know about Jesus' Earthly Parents: Joseph and Mary?

Don Stewart

There are some facts that we know about Jesus' earthly family. His parents were named Joseph and Mary.

Joseph

Joseph was the husband of Mary but not the biological father of Jesus. The New Testament makes this quite clear.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18).

The Bible also says.

But he [Joseph] had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:25).

There are not many fact recorded about Joseph in the four gospels. He is mentioned only with respect to the events surrounding Jesus' birth, flight to Egypt, return to Galilee. We find Joseph obeyed the Lord without question during this time.

The Episode In The Temple

The only other reference to him is the episode regarding Jesus teaching at the temple at age twelve.

Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:47-50).

It is interesting to note that Joseph is not mentioned by name in this account neither is there any record of him saying anything to Jesus. The account speaks of Jesus' parents. Mary calls Joseph "Jesus' father" however Jesus corrects her when He emphasizes who His real Father is. This is the last we hear of Joseph.

Joseph Was Not Around For Jesus' Public Ministry

Joseph is not mentioned as being around when Jesus began His public ministry. He is conspicuous by His absence. Almost everyone agrees that he had died before the time Jesus revealed Himself to the world. We know nothing of the circumstances surrounding his death.

Is His Death Indicated?

There may be an indication in Scripture that Joseph would never live to see Jesus' public ministry. When the elderly man Simeon spoke to Joseph and Mary about their newborn son we find the following said.

The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:33-35).

He predicted that a sword would pierce Mary's soul concerning Jesus but Simeon said nothing about Joseph. This may be an indication that Joseph would not be around to see Jesus rejected and crucified by the people whom He came to save.

The Announcement To Mary

Mary was the wife of Joseph and the biological mother of Jesus. While a virgin, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced the coming birth of Jesus.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).

The Song Of Mary

There is the song of Mary recorded in Luke's gospel (Luke 1:46-55) in which Mary praises God for His faithfulness.

And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:46,47).

She correctly predicted that she would be called blessed from that time on.

For he has had regard for the humble state of his bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed (Luke 1:48).

Mary Was Present At Jesus' First Miracle

At the site of Jesus' first miracle, Mary is present.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you (John 2:1-5).

Mary Was With Jesus' Brothers And Sisters On One Occasion

There is an account of Mary being with Jesus brothers and sisters.

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).

It is possible that it was Jesus family, and not the crowd, that thought that Jesus was deluded. We find His family attempting to speak to Him.

Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:31-34).

Mary Was Present At The Crucifixion

She was present at Jesus' crucifixion.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:25-27).

She Was In The Upper Room After Jesus' Ascension

The last we hear of Mary is with Jesus' disciples in the Upper Room

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Acts 1:14).

Here she is called the mother of Jesus. After this there is no mention of Mary in the New Testament. We know nothing with respect to the circumstances of her death.

Many Fanciful Stories About Mary Arose

After the New Testament era, many fanciful stories were written about Joseph and Mary. The only facts about their lives of which we can be certain are those that are recorded in the New Testament.

Summary

We know some details about Jesus' family. His mothers' name was Mary. She was married to Joseph. Joseph was not the actual father of Jesus but adopted Him upon His birth. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was prominent only in the accounts surrounding Jesus' birth, flight to Egypt, and return. He is mentioned in the story of Jesus and the Temple. We know nothing of the circumstances of Joseph's death. There may be a hint of his death before the public ministry of Jesus in the words of Simeon. He was not around when Jesus entered His public ministry. Mary is mentioned on certain occasions during Jesus' ministry.

Mary was a virgin when the angel announced to her that she would give birth to the Messiah. She figures prominently into the birth narrative of Jesus. There are only a few other occasions where she is mentioned. She is at the wedding of Cana of Galilee when Jesus turns the water into wine. Mary is also with Jesus' brothers and sisters when they wish to speak with Him apart from the crowd. She was there at His first miracle, attempted to take Him aside at one point, and was there at His crucifixion. She was taken into the home of the Apostle John after the death of Jesus. The last mention of her in the New Testament is before Pentecost where she is together with the other disciples.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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