Saturday, December 24, 2022

When Mary Met the Angel

"Just another Mary" From The Wall Street Journal this morning:
The first person ever to hear that Jesus is the Son of God was a low-income teenage girl in an obscure backwater of the Roman empire. She went by the most common name for Jewish women of her time and place: She was just another Mary. But then she claimed an angel had appeared to her and told her she would give birth to the Son of God. From the perspective of both Jews and Romans in the first century A.D., her story was completely unbelievable. How has it lasted for 2,000 years?

Today, Mary’s claim to have met an angel is part of what makes her story hard to believe. We imagine angels like the fairy on top of the Christmas tree, only bigger, so Mary’s story feels like a fairy tale. But angels in the Bible aren’t remotely fairylike. They’re terrifying messengers from God. ....
“Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end!” (Luke 1:30-33).
.... Doubtless Mary had a lot of questions for the angel, but she asked just one: “How will this be, since I’m a virgin?” Mary knew the facts of life. The title “Son of God” could technically just have meant the Messiah. Perhaps she thought that Joseph, her betrothed, would be the father of this longed-for King. But then the angel dropped another bomb:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
.... But why would God become a man? Why would he live in poverty and die in agony? Why would the King of all creation come not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many? According to the Christian story, it was because of love for every human being, rich or poor, weak or strong, enslaved or free. He paid the price for human sin—a word we may not choose to use but a reality we hit upon when we bewail injustice in this world and wonder why it seems so hard to fix. Christians believe that the Son of God was born to die, so that all who trust in him could live as sons and daughters of God—wrapped up more tightly in his love than the newborn Jesus was wrapped up by Mary in his swaddling clothes.

When Mary met the angel, she was a no-name girl from a disempowered people in a seemingly inconsequential place. Today, if you worry that you might be insignificant—unknown, unloved and unimportant in this world—perhaps this Christmas you will hear her message with fresh ears. If she was right about her son, then you are worth the birth and life and death and resurrection of the Son of God. (more)
Rebecca McLaughlin, "When Mary Met the Angel," The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 24, 2022.

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