Eternal God, with all that’s within me, I bless your name. Your ways are from of old, your works are ever new.
Read LUKE 1:26-38
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
- Luke 1:35 Or So the child to be born will be called holy,
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Of the Father’s love begotten / ere the worlds began to be’.1
Birth announcements tend to follow a formula – but not these. Both Matthew2 and Luke emphasize the virgin conception of Jesus. Despite much ridicule, this has been an important element of Christian belief from the earliest days. Three times in this passage Luke uses the term ‘virgin’. On one hand we have a young woman, probably still in her teens, with little social standing, from an insignificant village in Galilee. On the other we have the Holy Spirit and the birth of a child who will be called the Son of God (v 35), who will reign on David’s throne forever (vs 32,33).3 This is Luke’s version of John’s ‘The Word became flesh’4 and parallels Matthew’s reference to the Immanuel prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. The Gospel writers insist, as do the writers of the New Testament letters,5 that Jesus is both fully God and fully human.
Some people find the idea of virgin conception a hindrance to Christian faith, but with God, the Creator of the Earth and its laws, all things are possible (v 37). The virgin conception is one of the glories of Christian faith. It ensures that we have in Jesus one who, because he is both human (as a consequence of natural growth in Mary’s womb) and divine (by virtue of the Spirit’s intervention), is uniquely qualified to save the world and who, because he shares our humanity, can enter into our deepest feelings.6
Given the nature of the message and the way in which Jesus is described, this is a tough ask for Mary. Submitting to the will of God will be costly. It often is. But Mary is up for the challenge and provides us with a model response to the call of God.
What might God be calling you to this Christmas? How will you respond?
Merciful God, Mary’s response to the “tough ask” is humbling. Enable me to respond as Mary did when I have daunting challenges before me.
1 Aurelius Prudentius, 348–413; tr JM Neale, 1818–66 2 Matt 1:23,24 3 See 2 Sam 7:16 4 John 1:14 5 Eg Col 1:15–20; 2:9; Heb 1:1–4 6 Heb 4:16
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