In the story of the first Christmas, at least one of the main characters was a teenager — Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was happily “betrothed” to Joseph, meaning that they had the status of marriage but not yet the rights of marriage; they were not to live together or be sexually intimate. But Mary became pregnant. Joseph, being a righteous man and knowing the child was not his, was obligated to divorce her, and to do it publicly. His reputation was at stake. But because he had compassion on Mary, he decided to divorce her quietly instead of publicly. Even though by so doing he would forfeit his reputation and the dowry his family had paid (Matthew 1:18-24).
Mary was at first troubled when the angel Gabriel told her she would have a child. She was also puzzled, because she was a virgin, but she was bold enough to ask “How can that be?” And, even though it seemed impossible, she believed Gabriel’s answer and willingly accepted what she knew was a huge honor – to become the mother of the Messiah for whom Israel had been waiting. She knew the Scriptures, and believed the promise (Luke 1:26-38, 45).
Mary knew that she risked rejection, possibly from Joseph, most certainly from the neighbours in Nazareth, who would not know what was happening – or believe, even if they had known. But her response was, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me as you have said.”
Joseph, told in a dream that he should take Mary to be his wife, did so, also risking condemnation because the required twelve months of betrothal were not yet finished.
Mary and Joseph knew the Scriptures and believed the prophesies and the promises written there. More than that, their character had been formed by its teachings. So when God spoke to them personally they were ready to obey and strong enough to risk the negative reactions of family and friends by doing so.
This is a true story of faith, love, and responsibility in a young couple – of following God’s directions and considering the welfare of the other. Our teens can do the same if God is first in their lives.