Christmas Reflection Part 2

Luke 1:26-38 – Let it Be

This is as familiar a story as there is in Scripture. Even people who have never attended a Church service in their lives will probably have heard something about Mary and the angelic visitation. But let us be careful not to let familiarity breed contempt, or carelessness.The story speaks most powerfully of the son-ship of Jesus. We see in this story that he shares the divine nature of Yahweh as the Son of God, but also that he shares the human nature of his mother. We don’t know Mary’s age in this story, but betrothals (a legal engagement, not yet a full marriage) could happen as young as 12 or 13 for a girl. The word used to describe Mary means “young, unmarried girl” which is why it is translated as “virgin”, as that is very much the implication given. Joseph is mentioned as being of the house of David not because he is the actual father of Jesus, but because he is the legal father of Jesus, putting Jesus in the line of David.

Mary was put at risk of being shunned and shamed for this conception, but clearly she was also someone who was… … expectantly waiting for the God of Israel to rescue his people. As such she readily obeyed the word of the LORD as it was given to her, and made herself completely available for the working of the LORD through her. This willingness seems to be an important part of why God chose Mary, but ultimately the reason the Lord chose Mary to perform this role is because that is who He wanted to choose. He did not choose her because she was perfect, or because she had the ability to divinely extend grace. She is blessed because God chose her; God did not choose her because she was blessed. Mary is extremely important to this story, because she participated in what the Lord wanted to do in and through her (literally), but even she pales in comparison to the child she was to bear. The point of this story is not how amazing Mary is, but how the Lord is working through his people to bring about his salvation.

This is the fulfillment of prophecy and the longing of the people of God, that yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) which means “Yahweh Saves” would come. Salvation in our days has sometimes been reduced in our thinking to little more than accepting Jesus as a friend and behaving slightly better. This is not the salvation that Mary and others were longing for. Read Zephaniah 3:14-20 to see the kind of salvation they had in mind, the way they longed for Yahweh to act. The expected Messiah was not just going to be a friend, he was going to be a King, a redeemer, a liberator, a forgiver. He would release them from sin and exile. Jesus, according to Luke, is the culmination of God’s plan for salvation, which he had been working through in the life of Israel for generations before.

The angel describes the coming baby first as the Son of the Most High, then as a descendant of David and heir to his throne. His identity as the Son of God is primary, and it is from this identity that he has the position of Messiah, heir to the throne of David. (For Old Testament indications that the coming king of Israel would also in some way be God’s son, see 2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:7, and Psalm 89:27).

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