Focal Passage: Luke 1:26-38
The birth announcement of
John the Baptist (1:13) and the birth announcement of Jesus in today’s focal
passage are often seen through the parallel lens that Luke provides. One rare
glimpse of that lens is the fact that neither Zechariah and Elizabeth nor
Joseph and Mary are praying for a baby in the moment of the announcement.
Neither have the baby beds
ready. For Zechariah and Elizabeth, on the one hand, their prayers have gone
unanswered for years and so they have given up hope of a child.
For Joseph and Mary, on the
other hand, it is not time yet for a child to be expected. It is far too early.
They must wait and be
patient until the time is right. For both couples it is not the right time to
have a child. Too late! Too early!
When God speaks one can feel
overwhelmed and inadequate.
The task is too difficult,
the time is not right, and certainly there is no way that one can do this.
Doubts arise and one wants
to run away and hide. Running is the story of Elijah and Jonah and countless
How would you feel if God
asked you to build an ark that would hold the animals? How would you feel if
God asked you to go and bring a multitude of slaves to freedom just like Moses?
Mary follows her faith and
proclaims, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to
your word” (1:38).
There are three parts to
First, she states that she
is available. “Here am I.”
How many good things are
missed because of absence?
Showing up is half the
Second, Mary identifies
herself as a servant, literally a slave of the Lord.
A slave, or doulos, “at the
time of Jesus was . . . a lower level of humanity.”
By law the slave was classed
with immobile goods, had no rights at law and could not own property.
Even his family did not
belong to him; it was the property of the master . . . In the Rabbis,
therefore, the word slave constitutes one of the worst insults one man can hurl
at another; it was not for nothing that a man might be excommunicated for
calling his neighbor a slave” (Gerhard Kittle, ed. Theological Dictionary of
the New Testament, vol. 2, 271-272).
Third and finally, Mary
trusts herself to the “word of the Lord.”
After all, it was the Word
of the Lord that brought the world into existence!
What is God asking you to do
this Christmas season?