Day 1
December 18

December 18, 2022 • Week Four

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
Matthew 1:16

Day 1

God chose an ordinary Jewish farm girl, Mary, to be used in an extraordinary way. But in a time and place so different from our own, how can we understand more about who Mary was?

To know her better, we need to understand the culture in which she lived. Nazareth was barely a dot on the map of northern Israel, roughly 10-60 acres in size - what we might consider a small farm. Between 100-400 people lived in this hilly area, with a single ancient spring as the source of water for the entire community.

In 1st century Nazareth, young girls like Mary were expected to perform specific tasks in a farming community. She likely washed clothes in a community water trough and carted water from the ancient spring. Her duties might have also included caring for elderly family members, working in the fields owned by her family, tending the goats and sheep and making clothes from their wool, and preparing and preserving food.

Mary was an ordinary Jewish girl. Her work was common. Even her name was common. 25% of all women at the time were named Mary (or Miriam, a variation of Mary in Hebrew). Her town of Nazareth
was not highly thought of, lacking big city affluence, glamor, trade, and cultural appeal. The book of John even raises the question, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” An invitation followed the question, “Come and see for yourself.” John 1:46


  • Mary wasn’t the only ordinary person on earth. Why do you think the Lord invited her above all others?
  • This week, consider how God invites unlikely people to bring about great purposes. What does that say about God? What hope does that give you?
  • As farmers, the Nazarenes’ diet fluctuated with the seasons, but typically included a steaming bread cake made from an ancient form of popcorn. The bread cake would have been served with goat cheese, yogurt, fish, eggs, or chicken as a protein source, with lamb reserved for special occasions. During the warmer months, beans, cucumbers, or other vegetables sprinkled with dill, and fruits such as melons, dates, figs, and olives, would also have been part of the meal. Consider making a meal sometime over the next few weeks using these ingredients, and invite others to share it with you.