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“What happened next, Mary”

St. Luke Drawing a Portrait of the Virgin Mary
St. Luke Drawing a Portrait of the Virgin Mary

Luke, a middle-aged physician hired by a wealthy Roman to document the story of Jesus, sat down on a bench next to an aging Jewish woman somewhere in the Roman province of Judea.

Luke’s task was to put together the story– in order– the story of Jesus and his followers. People in Rome were talking about this Jewish Messiah but what they knew about him was in bits and pieces, stories told from Jews.

To a Roman audience the origin story was vital. All of the gods had origin stories that everyone knew. They were taught in children’s stories and referred to in literature. Where your god came from helped define the power of the god.

So it was vital, if Jesus really was the son of God, that Luke document just who this Jesus was and where he came from.

  • Jupiter was the son of Saturn, who ate the rest of the children.
  • Apollo is the twin of Artemis, he’s the son of Zeus and Leto, who survived despite the protests of Zeus’s wife Hera. Though Artemis was born without labor pains, Leto labored for 9 days to give birth to Apollo.
  • Luna (Greek goddess Selene) was the child of the sun-god Hyperion and his sister Theia.

Everyone in Rome knew these stories. They knew where each god came from.

And if Jesus was truly the son of the Most High God of Israel, he must have an amazing and identifiable origin story.

Luke very likely had access to Mark’s written account of Jesus’ life as well as Matthew’s Gospel. And he had probably seen a few other written accounts that didn’t make it into the canon of Scripture.

True to his task, Luke was making his way around to interview as many eyewitnesses as possible to corroborate all of the stories and document what he could.

So here he was, sitting with the only surviving eyewitness to Jesus’ birth and early years.

Mary. Now in her 50s or 60s. The mother of Jesus. The woman who saw it all. The woman who bore the shame and scrutiny of giving birth to a mystery child. The woman who gave birth to Jesus in a barn. The woman who nursed Jesus from infancy and kept his circumcision wound clean. The woman who made him 10,000 breakfasts. The woman who taught him to walk and sang songs to him. The woman who oversaw him playing with his cousins, knowing all along what the boy Jesus never knew. The woman who waited 30 years for the promise of the angel to come true. The woman who watched her oldest child become a man, learn a trade, and work alongside his father, her late husband. The woman who sometimes traveled with Jesus during his ministry. The woman who rushed to Jerusalem when he was arrested. She was an eyewitness to his birth and she was an eyewitness to his crucifixion.

No doubt  Luke trembled. Billions of women have given birth to sons. But only Mary gave birth to the Messiah. She was chosen. She was blessed by God as the god-bearer.

And she sat on the bench next to him.

The Sitting down with her, you can imagine, he recalled the story as he’d been told, as he’d written down. Is that all true, Mary? She nodded and he proceed.

“So what happened next, Mary. Tell me what happened after Jesus was born.”

Read Luke 2:22-40 to see what she said.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

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