A simple, mechanical question
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
- Luke 1:34-35
Mary heard everything the angel had to say to her and had one simple but significant mechanical question.
People have been getting pregnant and having children since before the beginning of recorded history. The Bible is full of pregnancy stories. Often the story is of a woman who longs to get pregnant but isn’t able to conceive. Throughout the Bible, the Lord meets women in the midst of their painful struggles with infertility.
But Mary’s story was different. The Lord was moving in a new way. We don’t have all the details of what happened, but the child that was born would be called both the son of Mary and the Son of God.
To a Jewish audience the story of the divine origin of Jesus sounds like pagan nonsense. To a Greek or Roman audience, the story sounds like a backwater imitation of a good myth. To a modern audience, the story sounds like convenient backfill to prop up a prophet who lacked an impressive lineage.
Why have Christians clung to this story throughout the ages? We believe that in Jesus God was doing a new thing. Jesus was unique and this really happened.
When Luke went out to “carefully investigate … and write an orderly account” of the story of Jesus, he wasn’t surprised to find stories like these. A virgin birth. Angelic announcements. Miracles. The challenge for us isn’t why stories like these are included; the challenge is why Luke shows so much restraint. If we’re left with questions after reading Luke’s account, so were his original readers. How did it work? Why was it necessary? How do we know it’s true? But Luke refused to embellish the story because he wanted to tell what really happened.
God connected with history in a new way in Jesus. He connects with us in a new way through Jesus today. The access to God that we enjoy through Jesus is truly remarkable.
Take a few minutes today to thank God for changing history, for acting in a new way, for doing something unique in order to reach out to us and connect with us.