Saturday, September 04, 2004

Still doing that Luke thing...

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Just another day in the life of the angel Gabriel circa the birth of our Lord. Going to frighten unsuspecting young girls with unbelievable news.

29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He 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, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Frighten…and overwhelm. No real doubt here what the angel is telling the young girl: You are pregnant with Messiah. Up to this point “virgin” could just mean young girl. For the reader, pregnancy is not the miracle (yet), Messiah coming is. Name him “God Saves.” All the terms to follow are messianic: the King of Israel has come. “His never-ending Kingdom (could be translated “reign”) will never end. The Jewish reader sees political and economic deliverance from Rome in these words. Jesus would see something deeper.

34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

Oh…that’s what virgin means. An even greater miracle. Most great myths/religions of the world have a virgin birth associated with them. This has led some scholars to believe that the virgin birth is an afterthought. Luke treats it, however, as purely historical.

35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."

This, according to our angelic messenger, is definitely a divine conception. The Holy Sprit “coming on people” is true to the Old Testament pattern and terminology of how the Holy Spirit works. He will be called “son of God” because, Luke argues, he was God’s son even in a physiological sense.

It is no lesser miracle that Elizabeth is also pregnant. There is a connection between the two pregnancies. Here we find out that Mary and Elizabeth are somehow related.

38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

This statement above all others is why Mary has historically been honored in the Christian tradition. If only we could honestly respond this way to every situation, no matter how frightening or overwhelming.

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