The Bible: The Power of Rebirth

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Click to Read Luke 1:26–38

  • Sensationalism sells
    • This is very much evident in the media.
    • Even if a controversy does not exist
    • Headlines allude to one… so their product and services can sell.
  • We may try to ascribe such a scenario to this passage, with intent to gloss over and hide (alleged) inappropriateness of Jesus’ birth.
    • But we need to look at Jesus’ Birth Narrative’s presentation here from the view of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection.
  • Luke (and Matthew) are simply reporting that Jesus did not have a father in the ordinary way, and that this was because Mary had been given special grace to be the mother of God’s incarnate self.
  • Scientists will say that virgin birth is in theory possible
    • (it sometimes happens in small animals, e.g. lizards),
    • and that a child thus produced would be a complete human being.
    • The problem is that, always supposing such a thing were possible,
      • the child would naturally be female.
    • The truly remarkable thing from the scientific point of view is
      • that Jesus was male.
  • Luke explains through the words of the angel a double explanation for the whole event.
    • The Holy Spirit will come upon Mary
      • enabling her (as the Spirit always does)
      • to do and be more than she could by herself.
    • But at the same time ‘the power of the Most High’
      • will overshadow her.
      • This is something different:
      • God himself, the creator, will surround her completely with his sovereign power.
  • God does intervene in and through Mary
    • But not like a pagan god intervening roughly and inappropriately in the affairs of mortals,
    • But appropriately like the creatures he created in his own image
    • And respected them fully by giving them freedom, self-determination and free will
  • When he takes the initiative, it is always a matter of love,
    • love which will care for us and take us up into his saving purposes.
    • Mary is, to that extent, the supreme example of what always happens
    • when God is at work by grace through human beings.
    • God’s power from outside, and the indwelling spirit within,
    • together result in things being done which would have been unthinkable any other way.
  • For Luke, Matthew and even Paul, this story is not at all out of place
    • Or even appears doubtful
      • Their faith does not start with the birth
      • For them it begins with Jesus’ death and Resurrection
    • So when they look at Jesus’ birth in hindsight,
      • It is only the truth for them…
  • Luke’s primary purpose in crafting this section is political or royal meaning Luke gives to the whole event.
    • The child to be born will be the Messiah,
      • the king of the house of David.
      • God had promised David a descendant who would reign for ever—
      • not over Israel only, but also the whole world.
      • And this coming king would be, in some sense, ‘God’s son’ (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7; Psalm 89:27).
    • As with a good deal of New Testament language about Jesus,
      • this is both a huge theological claim
      • (Jesus is somehow identified with God in a unique way
      • which people then and now find it hard to grasp and believe)
    • and a huge political claim
      • (Jesus is the true ruler of the world
      • in a way which leaves Caesar, and the powers of the world today,
      • a long way behind).
    • Luke will go on to tie and culminate in Acts of the Apostles…
      • Where he proclaims Jesus is the King among us…
      • A resonance of Jesus’ Incarnation, which he is describing here…
  • Put all this together—
      • the conception of a baby,
      • the power of God, and
      • the challenge to all human empires—
    • and we can see why the story is so explosive.
    • Perhaps that’s one reason why it’s so controversial.
    • Perhaps we are afraid of the demands this puts on us.
    • And we may be afraid to give in to these demands.
  • The story seeks to underline this demand….
    • Zechariah before this episode… responds with unbelief
    • Mary seeks more information to a scenario described to her
    • And which She knows nothing about
    • The Angel does not give her a guide book
    • Only assurance
    • “It is God who will work in and through her”
  • This is the promise for you and me…
    • Do not respond with unbelief
    • God will form you and transform you
    • And you like Mary will be call blessed.
  • Do not harden your hearts today…
    • Respond to him with an open and desirous heart
    • For Jesus to be part and center of your life.
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