Just imagine the shock. Mary gets a visit from the angel Gabriel. I’ve no idea how the meeting took place, as Luke doesn’t say. But his opening line, in Luke 1:28, is, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Mary was, “greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” It’s not every day you find someone on your doorstep calling you, “favored one”
And then to make things even more shocking for this young woman, engaged but not yet married, she is told, “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.” (vv30-33)
A son?! Son of the Most High?! A never ending kingdom?! “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on 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.’” (v35)
Jesus was conceived in a way unlike any other human being. He didn’t have a human father, but he had a human mother. The Holy Spirit came over Mary and made her pregnant, so various things could be true:
- God took upon himself human form.
- The Creator would experience his creation from the inside.
- This human being would be sinless, perfect, a “holy one”.
The “virgin birth” is an important part of Christmas. Without it, Jesus cannot have been perfect, and if he wasn’t perfect he couldn’t be the “spotless lamb” as a sacrifice for our sins. Without it, Jesus was just a human being, nothing more, and therefore he had no power to take away our sins and give us access to eternal life.
We’ll see over the coming weeks the amazing person Jesus is, and the amazing things he came to achieve. That all started with the amazing story of Christmas, when God was born on earth.