Of all the Gospel writers, Luke devotes more space to the Birth narrative of Jesus than any other. Matthew plunges straight in with Jesus’ genealogy (vital for Jews to know), and then recounts the story of the Wise Men from the East. Mark has nothing at all to say about Jesus’ birth and John sets it in the context of Eternity – ‘In the beginning … ‘ It is only Luke, the committed Historian, who gives us significant details about the actual event. So this week, as we prepare ourselves for Christmas, we shall be reading from Luke’s Gospel and particularly noting the songs that were sung. Some of them have found their way into the written liturgy of worship in certain parts of the Church and are sung regularly in congregational worship.
v 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
Do you ever watch the TV programme ‘Who do you think you are?’ The last series began with the youthful comedian Josh Widdicombe. His amazement at discovering that his family line could be traced back to King Edward 1, left him speechless – and who wouldn’t be if we discovered we had royal links! His incredulous look must have matched in some way the feelings of Mary as she heard God’s plan for her son to inherit the throne of David. ‘ME – you sure about that? REALLY?’ Traditionally, Mary is portrayed in ancient paintings (and modern ones too) as accepting this information with calm and dignity, with her head in a halo – but I really do wonder about that. Try to imagine a teenage girl dropping into bed with that all going round in her head. Nothing is said about her parents. What might they have thought if she had tried to tell them about an angelic visitation! The opening words of verse 29 seem the most apt description of Mary’s state of mind. ‘Confused and disturbed,’
To a young Hebrew woman however, it was the most stirring news possible. Everyone dreamt of the Messiah coming, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to be his mother! Confused and disturbed she might be, but subsequent verses show her also to be understanding and even accepting of God’s plan for her.