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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lenschow

Mary and the Angel's Announcement-Part 3

Preparation for his Birth

Day 13 Friday, December 10th

Luke 1:26-38, with emphasis on Luke 1:31, 34-35

1. Recognize the Context:

Biblical context:

The Bible contains countless narratives or stories that span thousands of years. However, Christians believe the Bible is more than merely a collection of stories. We think it presents the one true overarching narrative of history from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is God’s story, and the biblical story enables us to make sense of the past, present, and future. Because we believe the Holy Spirit was involved in the inspiration process, it should come as no surprise various themes reoccur throughout the pages of the Bible. Different authors present them in various literary forms, decades and centuries after they were first introduced.

Some of these themes have a more significant presence than others. Some may occur and then fade into the background. They may disappear, having served their purpose, or they may be muted for a time, only to reappear with intensity to reach their fulfillment.

Some of these themes take on a slightly different trajectory as they move throughout the Old Testament, into the Intertestamental period, and finally reaching the time of the New Testament. The coming of the Messiah is one such theme, and we addressed a few prophetic texts at the beginning of this Advent study. However, there are others.

Today, we look at Luke 1:26-38 one last time, to see just such a biblical theme, the theme of the "childless woman.”

2. Read the Scripture: Luke 1:26-38, with emphasis on 1:31, 34-35

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He 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, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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.

3. Reflect on the Scripture:

In the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, the ability to have children was more than an issue of posterity or legacy. There were direct social and economic implications. The inability to procreate brought social shame and embarrassment on the woman, her family, and the clan. Additionally, the family or clan couldn’t make a living or survive financially and economically without children to support the family by the division of shared labor.

The theme of "the childless woman" recurs throughout the pages of the Old Testament. The most significant presentation is found early in its pages. In Genesis 12, Abraham received promised blessings of descendants and land. The problem: Sarah was unable to have children. God intervened, and after many years the promise was finally fulfilled. Sarah's son of promise, Isaac, with his wife Rebekah, had the same difficulty, and they prayed for God's intervention. Their son Jacob and wife Rachel also struggled to have children, but eventually, Joseph was born. Other Old Testament characters with mothers unable to conceive without God's miraculous work include Samson and Samuel.

Turning to the pages of the New Testament, the book of Luke opens with a couple apparently past the age of childbearing, Zechariah and Elizabeth. However, God's action on their behalf changed their situation, and Elizabeth became pregnant.

Finally, there was Mary. Her situation was similar and yet distinct from the traditional "childless woman" theme. However, she was the culmination of this theme, as she experienced the supernatural intervention of God through a divine conception. In her situation, she could not have children because she was a virgin who had not yet consummated her marriage, but God dramatically intervened. Her child's conception was by the Holy Spirit.

Although the theme of "childless woman” centered on the biological process of having children, it had theological significance. God had to intervene in the natural reproductive process to bring forth a child. Each of these children served a particular purpose in God's plan of salvation in Israel’s history. Ultimately, the Christ-child was the fulfillment of humanity’s hope for salvation.

4. Relate to life:

Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

Today, prayerfully consider this theme of the "childless woman” and how Mary and Jesus were the culmination of it.

Prayerfully consider what the intervention by God into the natural and biological process reveals about his character.

What does the culmination of this theme in the birth of Jesus reveal about his mission and ministry?

Prayerfully consider what this theme reveals about humanity? What difference does this make for you today?

To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)

Given the prayer suggestions above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.

To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)

Read through Genesis, starting in chapter 12, to see God's intervention in the various stories of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel.

Read through 1 Samuel 1 and 2 to see God's intervention in the story of Hannah.

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