Short Meds in Getting Ready in Covid-Advent: 20. Enormity (2)
Lk 1:35b “the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
In study number 18 we considered the reality that Mary couldn’t fully take in the wonder of what she was being told about her son. Of course the reality wouldn’t be seen for some three decades but she was warned, “a sword will pierce your own soul too,” (Lk 2:35) when Simeon prophesied over them in the temple.
Partly because the ancient prophecies about the coming one were not that clear, partly because as a result there were a number of schools of thinking about whether he would be a conquering king or a despised servant (both actually!) and partly, what the apostle Paul called ‘the mystery of Christ’ (e.g. Eph3:4), was not going to be more clearly understood until even after Pentecost, it was that Mary would only have had a very limited understanding of what any of these descriptions of her son meant.
So let’s consider this verse which follows the angel answering her ‘virgin query’ with “The Holy Spirit will come on you.” (1:35a) An alternative rendering of our verse above is, “the one to be born will be holy, the Son of God”. He is holy, first because a man was not involved in the conception and, second, because in ways that defy our understanding this was the Son of God who had just come from heaven (see Jn 6:33,35,38,51,17:5), starting as life in Mary.
How many watching Nativity plays have observed the baby doll in the manger casually? This is God incarnate, Immanuel, God with us. Year after year this ‘play’ gets put on in schools and year after year we miss the shear wonder of what we are remembering.
No doubt Mary hardly took in the wonder of this. How could she, as we’ve just considered, but here’s the big truth we need to be grabbing hold of here, God doesn’t always demand our full understanding. Take hold of this, it is important. When we turned to Christ our understanding of what we were responding to was strictly limited; I know it was for me. The understanding follows later, that is why teaching through the Church is so important. As new believers we need help to take in the wonder of these things, we need to have them laid out before us and explained. And all the while it is a process that takes time, getting more and more knowledge, a slow process. No, the Lord just wants our willing response to His plans that He lays before us, as we slowly take them in – yes, they will be incomplete, will be only partial in understanding but that should never stop us obeying what we do understand, so may that be true of each of us, even this Christmas. May He get that even from your partial understanding.