Mary was born in Nazareth and was the cousin of Elisabeth. She was engaged to marry Joseph, a carpenter. God chose her to be the Mother of His Son, Jesus Christ, an event which was prophesied in the Old Testament by Isaiah. An angel came to her and told her about the impending birth. He informed her she was highly favored of God and blessed among women. She was puzzled as to how this was possible, since she was a virgin, but the angel assured her that with God, nothing was impossible. Her cousin Elizabeth, also experiencing a miraculous pregnancy, was informed of Mary’s pregnancy and believed the message the angel Gabriel had delivered to her husband. Mary expressed her testimony of God to Elisabeth and then stayed with her cousin for about three months before going home.
Joseph had also been informed of the pregnancy, but an angel appeared to him in a dream, instructing him not to end the engagement because the baby was the Son of God and was coming to save the world from sin. He married Mary and she remained a virgin until after Jesus was born. She had additional children after Jesus.
Prior to the birth of the Savior, Mary and Joseph were required to travel to Bethlehem in order to be taxed. While there, Mary went into labor, but there was no room in any local housing for them. They were offered use of a stable or cave and there, the baby Jesus was born. He was placed in a manger after his birth.
Angels appeared to nearby shepherds to tell them of the baby’s birth and to invite them to see the child. They went to Bethlehem and were presented to the baby, among the first to see Him and to know of His identity.
They returned to Jerusalem after Mary’s days of purification ended, Mary and Joseph took the baby to Jerusalem to present Him to God at the temple. Simeon, who had been promised that he would live to see Jesus, took the baby into his arms and announced that this was indeed the Christ. Mary and Joseph were amazed by the things they were told about Jesus.
It is believed the wise men did not arrive for several years. Jesus is referred to as a child, not an infant. The wise men came to a house, not the stable. When they arrived, they saw Jesus with His mother and bowed down to worship Him. They presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which may have provided funding for the events that followed. When the wise men left, Joseph was instructed by an angel to take Mary and Joseph to Egypt and to stay there until instructed to return. They stayed in Egypt until an angel reassured them that Herod was dead and that it was now safe to take Jesus to Nazareth, a move which fulfilled a prophecy.
When Jesus was twelve, the family traveled to Jerusalem, as they did each year for Passover. As they returned, Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was missing. They had assumed He was with other family members. Upon discovering He was not, they returned to Jerusalem and searched for him. Three days later they found Him in the temple. Jesus was puzzled that they had been so worried—He thought they would know He was about His Father’s business, which he was. They had found Him teaching in the temple.
We know little of Mary’s life after this time. It is believed Joseph, who is never mentioned again, was dead by the time of her next appearance, which comes after Jesus has started His ministry. She and some of His brothers came and wanted to speak to Him. When someone told Him his mother and brethren were outside, He said that anyone who did the will of His Father was his family.
Jesus and His disciples attended a wedding in Canas and Mary was also there. She came to Jesus and informed Him there was no wine and instructed the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. What He told them to do must have amazed them or even worried them because He instructed them to fill the vessels with water. When the ruler tasted the water, it tasted as though it were good wine. This was the beginning of the miracles. Jesus traveled on to Capernaum with His mother and his disciples.
When Jesus Christ was crucified, Mary came to the cross and stood near it with her sister and two other women named Mary. From the cross, Jesus instructed John the Beloved to care for His mother after His death, and she lived with Him from then on. She was noted as being in an upper room with the disciples and several other women after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.
*This article was adapted from the LDS Bible Dictionary and Every Person in the New Testament by Lynn F. Price (Horizon Publishers, , 25-26).