Advent: December 24

Gospel: Luke 1:26–38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (NIV)

Have you ever thought about Mary’s story? I mean, really thought about it? A teenage girl comes home and tells her parents that she’s pregnant, but it wasn’t her boyfriend. In fact, it wasn’t anyone – except God. How did her parents respond? How did her boyfriend respond? Did they or any of her friends and neighbours really believe her? Would you believe such a story if you heard it today in 2020?

Regardless of who believed Mary – and we know that at least Joseph did and was bold enough to still marry her – Mary could do nothing but give glory to God for choosing her, the most unlikely of girls, and a virgin at that, to be the mother of the Son of God!

Nine months later, when it was time for the Son of God to be born, more bizarre things happened. The supposed King of Kings was born amongst animals. A feeding trough was his first cradle and his first visitors, who became the “social media” of his birth, were smelly shepherds. I don’t know about you, but if I had been given the pen to write the story of God’s entrance into the world, I would have written it very differently. Yet, “Mary treasured up all these [unusual] things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). She knew from day one of her pregnancy that God was in the business of doing things differently.

Clearly, God’s ways are not our ways. His Kingdom truly is upside down. While we often prefer to plan big, celebrate in style, and choose those we deem to be impressive, God continually does the opposite. Not only can he turn good out of “less desirable” people and situations, he deliberately chooses the less desirable and lowly.

To go further into scripture on this, check out Luke 1:46–55 and James 2:5–13.

Calvin Hohn – NAB Missionary to Cameroon and MAT Member