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Well, we’ve finally made it out of the Old Testament and into the New :). Or so we think. Just as the Old Testament is written to point us to the Christ, Luke’s gospel announces the Christ by pointing us back to the prophets. When the angel Gabriel appears to poor, unsuspecting Mary, he issues forth 7 crucial pieces of information, all of them echos of Old Testament scripture:
1. “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” (Isaiah 7:14)
2. “You shall call his name Jesus [which means Savior].” (Joel 2:32)
3. “He will be great.” (Malachi 1)
4. “He will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Daniel 3:8-4:3)
5. “The Lord God will give him the house of his father, David.” (Isaiah 9:1-7)
6. “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.” (Jeremiah 30)
7. “And of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Psalm 89:1-37)
Out of all these bits of news only one seems questionable to Mary. “How can this be since I am a virgin?” she asks the angel, obviously referring to statement #1. To answer her question in a round-about way he gives her a vague account of the process she’s about to undergo which will result in her child being holy and the Son of God. In an apparent attempt to reassure her, Gabrielle informs Mary that barren old Aunt Elizabeth was going to have a baby as well. This seems to do the trick. Mary must have thought, “well if Old Aunty Elizabeth can be with child I guess a virgin like me can be pregnant too!” “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord,” she replies confidently, “let it be to me according to your plan.” A subsequent visit to said Aunty inspires Mary’s praise song,
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Well if that isn’t just dripping with Old Testament references! And right in the middle, is this gem, “he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.” What was going on in Mary’s own heart throughout this spectacular drama? Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” What a contrast! God scatters the proud in the the thoughts of their hearts, but the humble are given treasure to store up in theirs. Judging from Mary’s responses and words of praise, she already had a storehouse of scripture stored up in her heart, but oh the riches she was heaping up in those moments!
It’s little wonder that God was ensuring a rich storehouse for her in light of what was come. When Jesus was presented to Simeon in the temple, it was prophesied to Mary that through the piercing of her own heart, “the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Oh that the death of Christ would work to reveal in our own hearts a love for Him, a storehouse of treasure from His word, and a humble rejoicing in God our Savior.
“Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:”
(After singing O Holy Night, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold a virgin shall conceive…O thou that tallest good tidings…”Arise…”)
Click on the What’s In Those Jars? link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season