“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.’” (vv. 30-32)

Luke 1:26-38 Wednesday 25 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 40


The flow of the texts this week towards the crucifixion of JesusChrist is, it seems, interrupted by the visit of the Angel Gabrielto the Virgin Mary. He announces that she will conceive and bear ason. Is it really an interruption? Is it simply the practicalnoting of the day nine months in advance of Christmas? Perhaps wecould think of the annunciation as a disruptive moment that pointsus to prior events at the beginning of the story now nearing itsconclusion. We are reminded that there would be no passion week, noHoly Week, no Good Friday, nor any celebration of the resurrectionwere it not for this moment when Mary offers herself to be themother of the Son of God.

There are several points in the text that one might pick up forfurther reflection. The text describes Mary with the Greek word'parthenos', which means an unmarried girl. The implication of theterm is that she is a virgin; she is not only unmarried, but hasalso not been with a man. The Old Testament reference here to Isaiah7:14 would be obvious to those who knew the prophetic texts ofthe Jewish tradition. Thus, Mary's acceptance of her divine call tobear the Son of God is a fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy that ayoung woman will conceive and bear a son. The implication is thatGod has chosen Mary, whose name means 'exalted one', for this role.To be Jesus' mother is her vocation - her divine calling. Althoughher calling is difficult to understand or accept, she will beblessed for doing so. In any instance, Mary is not incidental tothe narrative of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

Luke, like Matthew, goes to some lengths to connect the child tothe line of David through Joseph, the man to whom Mary is engaged.Although some of the early Church commentators, such as Origen ofAlexandria, attempted to argue that Mary herself was a descendentof David, this isn't really indicated in the text. Instead, Lukesees standing in the line of David in legal terms. Jesus will beborn into Joseph's household; therefore, he is of the household ofDavid and receives all of the legal rights of inheritance that an"adopted" child would receive.

Although the name Jesus (Yeshua) was quite common in the firstcentury, the text makes the point that the child Mary bears will bedifferent. He will be called "holy" and "the Son of God" (v. 35).The sense here is not that he will become holy or that he will atsome point in his life become the Son of God. Instead, theimplication is that the Holy Spirit uniquely dwells in him. Hecomes into the world through the action of the Holy Spirit in orderto be the Saviour.

To Ponder

  • How do you view the roles of Mary and Joseph in the life ofJesus?
  • How does the story of the annunciation affect you when you readit so close to Holy Week and the events of Jesus' death?
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