Mar 11

Rev Gav

Spanner

Luke 1:34-35. Why would Luke include the bit about the virgin birth, potentially throwing a spanner in the works?

Luke 1:34-35

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Reflect

An angel had appeared to Mary and just rolled off a long list of how amazing Mary’s child was going to be — how Jesus was going to be the divine king of the universe — and Mary, like Zechariah before her, points out the flaw in the angel’s plan. She was a virgin, and everyone knew you could not have children without having sexual intercourse, however, the angel had a surprise for her. Mary was going to fall pregnant without having sex with anyone.

This is hard to believe, right? And do not make the mistake of thinking that us twenty-first Century ‘modern’ people are much more rational than those living two thousand years ago. It was just as difficult to believe then as it is now. Mary was going to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and through the power of God, she was going to become pregnant.

This tiny part of the whole story raises all sorts of questions. Firstly, who did Jesus look like? I mean, if he was not Joseph’s natural son then who did he look like? And talking of Joseph, if Jesus was Joseph’s adopted son, then how could Jesus really be of the royal line of Joseph’s ancestor David? This passage really is a spanner in the works isn’t it?

But the question I want to ask is this: wouldn’t it have been better for the cause if Luke had edited out this contentious and hard-to-swallow bit of the story? Why bother leaving it in?

Mary encountered an angel and was soon to encounter the Holy Spirit. Why is this any harder to believe than, for example, the millions of Christians who claim that they have encountered God through Jesus Christ today? To deny this encounter, for Christians like me, would be to leave out an important part of the story of our own spiritual journey.

Do

Today, why not ask God to reveal himself afresh to you, that, like Mary, you too might encounter the Holy Spirit.

Pray

Holy God
Help me encounter you through Jesus Christ
and fill me with your Holy Spirit.
Reveal yourself afresh to me,
that I might know you and love you more deeply.
This day and forever.
Amen.

Think

Why do you think Luke included the potentially contentious part about Mary becoming pregnant through the Spirit of God?

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