Annunciation

“You will be with child and give birth to a son,
and you are to give him the name Jesus”
(Luke 1:31)

Reflection:
After four hundred years of silence God spoke twice within the space of a few months. The first was to Zechariah and the second to Mary. In both cases the message was delivered not by a prophet but by the angel Gabriel – underlining its tremendous importance and implication. They both concerned the birth of a child – firstly John the Baptist and then Jesus.

The message to Mary contained three important elements.  Firstly ‘you are to give Him the name Jesus’ – which indicated that His mission would be to save.

Secondly, ‘He will be great’ – for He would also be called ‘the Son of the Most High.’ – This was an acknowledged messianic title and Mary would have understood it that way.

Thirdly, ‘He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’ –  Here was a fulfilment of prophecy.

Gabriel painted for Mary a picture of a child who would be Saviour, Son of God and King – three stunning titles. Mary was both ‘greatly troubled’ and obviously mystified by the message that Gabriel delivered – and would have been overawed when He explained further,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God … For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37)

Both from the message and the manner of His conception Mary would have known that this would be no normal child. And when she had the time to let it sink in and  to reflect on it all, she would come to terms with the growing realisation and understanding that for all eternity she would be the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the real miracle of Christmas is not the Virgin Birth. The great and awesome wonder is that God Himself should choose to come amongst us in human form. He put aside His majesty and glory to become like one of us – in order to save us from our fallen condition and from eternal separation from Him.

Prayer:

Lord God, help me to see beyond the human form of Jesus and to glimpse the reality of the Almighty, Majestic Creator humbling Himself to my level so that You could find me and lead me home again. Amen

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(Picture: Nicolas Poussin, The Annunciation, 1657, National Gallery, London)

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