21 December 2015

Luke 1:26-38

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (v. 38)

Psalm: Psalm 89


Our passage follows, six months later, one in which the birth of John the Baptist has been promised to the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-20).

Some readers will find the notion of a virgin birth impossible to believe. Others will accept it as evidence of God's power over the world God has created. Whichever view we take we need to note that Luke draws our attention beyond the manner of the birth to its significance. Jesus comes into the world, not as a result of human initiative but of God's. It marks a new era for the world.

Joseph is of the "house of David" (v. 27), the great king in Israel's history, the greatness of whose dynasty is promised in 2 Samuel 7:16. Jesus is to fulfil that promise, inherit David's throne and reign over the house of Jacob (ie Israel) (verses 32-33). Christian faith has its roots in the Old Testament which it shares with modern Judaism.

The words 'Hail Mary, full of grace', familiar to many Christians, come from the Latin translation of Luke's Greek original. 'Greetings, favoured one' is nearer to the original. The grace in question is not a virtue Mary already possesses but the favour she receives from God.

To Ponder

  • If you have access to a picture of this episode use it for meditation. (You can find a selection of images here.
  • If you were to make Mary's words in verse 38 your own, what would they mean for you?
  • What does the stress on Jesus as the heir of David's kingdom imply for Jewish-Christian relations today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..