In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel had good news for both Zechariah and Mary. They both asked him similar questions. Zechariah’s got him reprimanded and punished, but Mary’s did not. Why? Maybe the questions aren’t as similar as they might seem at first.
We have only one story of Jesus as a child, Luke 2:41-52. Joseph and Mary traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover every year and probably took Jesus each time. In any case, when he was 12, they returned to Nazareth without him. Jesus stayed at the temple and questioned the teachers there.
Surely every parent can identify with the multitude of emotions Joseph and Mary must have felt as they searched for their son.
Men traveled separately from women and children in those days. A 12-year-old, one year from adulthood, could have plausibly traveled with either group. Only when they stopped for the night and families reunited did Joseph and Mary realize that no one had seen Jesus.… Read the rest
When Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the temple, they encountered a prophet named Simeon. We normally think of Simeon closer to Christmas. After all, that’s the season when we pay special attention to the birth of Jesus. But Simeon’s message makes sense to us only in the light of Easter.
By the Holy Spirit, Simeon knew that he held the long-awaited Messiah in his arms. He knew that this child would grow up to accomplish his mission in the face of fierce opposition. And he knew that Jesus’ ministry would inflict great sorrow on his mother. But Jesus would accomplish what God intended.… Read the rest
Centuries before the Eastern and Western churches split, the church began to call her the Queen of Heaven, thinking to honor her. In Scripture, however (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:15-18), the queen of heaven is a pagan fertility goddess. When God’s people worshiped her, they provoked God to anger. It’s an insult to Mary to give her the same title as a false goddess.
In centuries of art and church teaching, Mary becomes some kind of other-worldly figure, devoted to perpetual virginity.
Nowadays, a child often portrays Mary church pageants. Another may portray the angel Gabriel. … Read the rest
In a stable in Bethlehem, Mary had a baby. She was certainly neither the first or last woman to deliver a child under less than ideal conditions. But she had an ordinary childbirth experience after an ordinary pregnancy.
She delivered no ordinary child. Mary conceived Jesus while she was still a virgin, a miracle that has happened exactly once. Angels announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, who rushed to Bethlehem to see him.
The ordinary and the extraordinary persisted side by side throughout Jesus’ life. Luke’s gospel records both a week following his birth.
There is nothing subtle about how the world operates. We measure power by size. Each industry has one or two dominant and large corporations.
The most powerful nations have some combination of the largest economies, international trade, military power, and diplomatic reach. Politicians vie to amass the most money so they can parlay their fundraising into the most votes.
God doesn’t work that way.
Just look at how he prepared Mary for her role in God’s sneaky counterrevolution against the devil.
Satan appeared to win a great victory in Eden by corrupting the man and the woman God had made. God declared that the seed of the woman would ultimately defeat him.… Read the rest
The New Testament uses the phrase “in Christ” or something similar more than a hundred times. It refers to Christ being in the believer less often, but those references are very important, especially during Advent as we look forward to the birth of Christ.
In Colossians 1:27, Paul summarized his message as “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” And how does Christ get in us? The same way he got in Mary: it takes a miracle. If every day by that miracle someone accepts Christ, then the birth of Christ happens every day.