In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, 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 to 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." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "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 1:26-35)
This is where it all begins in the New Testament. An angel appears to a lowly, unsuspecting virgin in Galilee, named Mary. From the perspective of the world, she was a nobody from nowhere, so why her? Throughout the Old Testament God is fond of using the most insignificant people through whom to perform his great works—Abraham, a pagan worshipper, Moses, a murderer with a speech impediment, David, a lowly shepherd boy, and Mary, a young girl from Galilee. But what this angel says would have been mind-boggling to Mary for several reasons.
First, the angel tells her she will have a son and call his name Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which literally means Yahweh saves or salvation is from Yahweh. Yahweh is the holy and sacred name of God in the Old Testament. Thus, Jesus is literally named ‘salvation is from Yahweh!’
Second, God will give to 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. He is the fulfillment of the promise given to King David one-thousand years earlier, the long-awaited Messiah, the One who would deliver God’s people from their enemies.
Third, Mary, a virgin, has found favor with God and so she will conceive in her womb and give birth to a son. This peculiar fact is not lost on Mary, for the first words out of her mouth are, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” ‘Surely, there’s been some sort of mistake, some sort of mix-up.’ She may not be well-educated but she’s smart enough to understand how women become pregnant. The angel responds by saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” This will be a miracle of the highest order. This child will not be any ordinary child, so it is only fitting that he will not be born in any ordinary way. The circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ immediately distinguishes him from the birth of every other human on the planet in world history.
But fourth, and most significantly, the angel says that “the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Jesus is born of a virgin because Jesus is not the physical product of a man and a woman--Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45). Just as Adam had no earthly father but came directly from God, so also Jesus has no earthly father but comes directly from God. As the second Adam, Jesus came into the world to do what the first Adam failed to do—live in perfect obedience to God’s laws—and be the new head of a new humanity who are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Advent is about celebrating Christ coming into the world to do and accomplish what the first Adam failed to do!
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