Thursday 25 March 2010

Bible Book:
Luke

"Do not be afraid, Mary ... you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus." (v.30-31)

Luke 1:26-38 Thursday 25 March 2010

Background

Today is nine months before Christmas Day and is the celebrationof the Annunciation of the Lord.

As we are in Passion Week (the week preceding Holy Week) we relivethe story that started it all. This passage talks about thevirginal conception of Jesus, which was the work of the HolySpirit.

Nazareth, Jesus' hometown, was a rather obscure place, nowherementioned in the Old Testament. Whilst at home in Nazareth, theangel Gabriel approaches Mary with the word "greetings" which, inthe Latin Vulgate version of the Bible, is translated as 'Ave'.This is the origin of the famous prayer 'Ave Maria'. 

In Jesus' day, to be 'pledged' to marry meant there was to be nosexual relations between the couple until they were married. So totell Mary she was going to give birth to a baby while she waspledged to be married and while she wasa virgin was undoubtedly something of a surprise! Mary's answer"How can this be?" is probably a mixture of disbelief (compatiblewith Elizabeth's husband Zechariah earlier in the chapter - verse19) and a response to the task ahead. "How come you have chosenme?" might be a more contemporary way of putting it!

The angel tells Mary that the baby will be named Jesus. In Hebrew,the word 'Jesus' means 'the lord is salvation'. The title "The Sonof the Most High" (verse 32) has two meanings. First is that Jesuswas the divine son of God. Second is that he was the Messiah, whichis explored in verses 32b-33. "Most High" is frequently used of Godin both the Old and the New Testaments. It is in the Old Testamentthat we are first told about the Messiah who will be a descendantof King David (Isaiah 9:7) and will come to save people fromtheir sins. Mary and Joseph were both descendants of David so Jesuswas rightly an "ancestor of David".

As we approach Holy Week, the week of Christ's death andresurrection, this passage reminds us that nothing is impossiblewith God: virgin births, resurrection, miracles. We experience thebeginning as we approach the end.

To Ponder

Do you have confidence in God to make theunlikely things happen?

How does God making the impossible possibleaffect your faith? To what extent is it a stumbling block or astepping stone?

Where is your faith today?

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