Mary Learns about Jesus
- Sense that Jesus birth was a very special event.
- Imagine how Mary felt when the angel visited her.
- Praise God for Jesus, our Savior.
- Share the good news of Jesus birth.
When it comes to Christmas, Nazareth gets short shrift next to Bethlehem; the annunciation stands in the shadows next to the manger. Maybe it's because Protestants tend to be a bit squeamish about how to handle Mary, the mother of our Lord (the angel's opening words to her are the same as in the famous "Hail Mary" prayer). But you can't understand Bethlehem until you first watch this amazing scene of a young girl visited by an angel.
A young girl she is. Scholars who know this period tell us that fifteen or sixteen was a common age for a girl to be betrothed. Imagine this mere girl suddenly accosted by a bright shining angel who announces that she, of all people, is "highly favored" or, to put it another way, "You're a very special girl, and the Lord has something in mind for you."
Angel visits always seem to happen before great movements of God. Just off the top of your head you can probably think of half a dozen. Angel means "messenger," and that's exactly what they do in all these cases.
In this case the message is monumental. God is about to make his great promised move, sending his own Son as Messiah---and Mary will be the one who carries him in her body.
Read through the angel's announcement. The angel reiterates, "You have found favor with God." Make no mistake, this phrase means "God really likes you, and therefore wants to cooperate with you in the greatest invasion of all history." What an astounding thing for a young girl to hear!
The angel continues with what is practically a mini-course in theology within three sentences: "Jesus," "Son of the Most High," "throne of David," "house of Jacob," "his kingdom will never end." All deeply important words and concepts about which volumes have been written. Jesus is the promised one who fulfills the covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is our true and eternal King, as God promised David long ago.
This promised child, this astounding event, involves "the hopes and fears of all the years," and it all comes down to a young girl God really likes in the backwater town of Nazareth.
Of course, there's the question of how this will take place with a virgin. The angel explains it as much as possible, but one thing is clear: this is the holy one, the very Son of God. And then, echoing the words God spoke to a doubting Sarah long ago, the angel says, "Nothing is impossible for God."
And as though the eyes of all longing, hoping people throughout the ages are fixed on Mary, we await her answer. It was an announcement, of course, but it could not happen without her consent. Mary said, "Yes! May your word be to me fulfilled."
Here Mary is a picture of every believer and of the whole Church. We are called to say yes to God's transforming work in our lives, and yes to the transforming work God wants to do through us.
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