Merry Christmas!! I love this reading from John’s gospel. John takes a little different approach to the story of Jesus’ birth. His incarnation as a baby was not the beginning. Not even close. Jesus was with God, was God, at the creation of all that exists.
As we have journeyed together this Advent, we have read about John, the man God sent to “tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony.” Jesus is that light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” We certainly are living in times of darkness in need of a Savior!
Obedience. As we await our Immanuel’s return, we should take a hint here from Joseph’s response on how to trust God’s wisdom, even when we might not want to. God chose Mary, but the package included Joseph, too. Joseph was in the line of David. That fact alone gave him priority over others, as Jesus’ earthly father would have to be a descendant of King David.
In my opinion, even more important, Mary’s husband-to-be was a “righteous” man. God wisely chose for Mary a man who could handle being the father of God’s only Son. We’ve been focusing on Mary’s response to the greatest honor imaginable. Joseph was also given an immense privilege. He could have easily just walked away. God knew he wouldn’t.
Our Advent reading today picks up right where yesterday’s left off. Luke doesn’t bring Joseph into Mary’s experience as he writes. I have probably noticed that before, but it really struck me today. Imagine having received the news she did from the angel messenger. Mary needed a trusted friend, her relative Elizabeth, to confide in.
Didn’t you love how Elizabeth greeted Mary! “Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?” What confirmation for Mary that the angel’s message was true! The two women had so much to share during Mary’s visit! Two pregnant ladies would certainly be able to ride the emotional rollercoaster together. Who better to understand what their bodies were feeling?
In a moment, Mary learned from her visitor (the angel) how her life, and ours, would be changed forever. As we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming, both his birth and return, this passage will always be pivotal and precious.
Imagine a young bride-to-be caught up in the excitement of planning a wedding and starting a new life with the man of her dreams. Now in Mary’s time and culture, it’s not necessarily a given that she would be head over heels in love with her husband to be. But in my imagination of the scene, she was feeling a bit giddy for the big day. This visit from the angel would have been quite a game changer, leaving Mary with so much to ponder.
Immanuel means “God with us.” It’s one of the names we use for Jesus, especially at this time of year. Just let that little nugget resonate with you for a moment. In just a few short days we’ll be celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Immanuel. Because of Jesus, we have God with us. Do you believe that?
This prophecy from God through Isaiah may have a double fulfillment. We are most familiar with Matthew’s quoting the portion that refers to Jesus’ mother. “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” From our perspective, Jesus fulfills this without question.