3 Things Mary Knew… Gospel Coalition Article

I’m excited to say I have an article up on the Gospel Coalition website exploring connections between Mary’s song/psalm and the Old Testament Scriptures. You can take a look here:

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-things-mary-knew-baby-boy/

I view this as the beginning of a larger study of the first chapters of Luke’s Gospel and the OT connections that are implied. I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have. Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Verses – Matthew 2:1-8

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-8.

These magi may have been the Babylonian or Persian remnants of Daniel’s following from 500 years earlier. They follow a star, looking back to Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17. Herod the king wants the child put to death, but hides it by saying he wants to worship the king. The chief priests and scribes know about Micah 5:2, and apply it to the Messiah. They were not ignorant of OT prophecies, but read them through the hermeneutical lens that Messiah would be a warrior king, not suffering servant.

Christmas Verses – Luke 2:15-20

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When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:15-20.

The shepherds, upon hearing the announcement of Jesus’ birth, go to visit the baby in the manger. They tell Mary and Joseph what the angels have said. This event served as a sign for Jesus’ parents and all who heard it. Mary in particular wondered at the events, treasuring these things and pondering them in her heart.

The result is the glorying and praising of God by the shepherds. Even in his infancy, Jesus was directing human beings to give their praise and glory to God on high.

Christmas Verses – Luke 2:8-14

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:8-14.

After Jesus is born, shepherds received an angelic announcement of the birth of the Messiah. Why did the Lord send angels to shepherds to announce the birth of the king? It may be a connection to Isaiah 40:11: “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” This verse speaks of the coming of the Lord with might and authority to rule, and is the “good news” proclaimed in v. 9. It may also continue Luke’s themes of the reversal of injustice: shepherds, normally the lowly of society, are the first to hear the blessed news of Messiah’s birth.

The baby born is “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” I have previously written about the significance of this verse in showing that Jesus was savior, Messiah, and God all in one. The angels give God praise for the birth of this child. The birth of Jesus means glory to God in the highest heaven, but also peace on earth among human beings, with whom Jesus was pleased to dwell.

Christmas Verses – Luke 2:1-7

Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7.

Luke records the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem at the command of Caesar Augustus. Notice how God sovereignly adjusts human history, working in the heart of the Roman Emperor to stir his thinking to demand a census so that Mary and Joseph would return to Bethlehem, thereby fulfilling OT prophecy (Micah 5:2). Notice also that Mary is still said to be engaged to Joseph here. Since the engagement period normally lasted a year, it is reasonable to believe that all of these events from the angel’s appearing to Mary to Jesus’ birth took place very quickly (within a year).

Jesus would have been born not in a palace as he deserved, but lowly in a manger, the place where common domestic animals fed. There was no room for the family in the inn, probably due to the influx of people for the census. Just as there was no room for Jesus’ family in the inn, so there would be no room for Jesus in Pharisaic Jewish society, no room for a king in Israel, no room for a suffering Messiah, and no room for his people as strangers in a foreign land today.

Also, contrary to many Sunday School Christmas pageants, the text does not present this account as though Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem and the same night she gives birth. Luke writes, “and it came about while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth…” This gives the sense that they needed to remain in Bethlehem for some time for census purposes, and that while they were residing there, she gave birth during that time.

Christmas Verses – Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25.

In these verses an angel (Gabriel? we don’t know) appears to Joseph to stop him from divorcing Mary. In doing so, he tells Joseph about the son Mary will bear, and that He would save His people from their sins. Matthew then tells us readers that this fulfills the words of Isaiah 7:14. Jesus is “God with us.” Joseph demonstrates his faith in the Lord in that he gets up and does what the angel commands, taking Mary as his wife.

Jesus is a Savior who delivers His people from their sin. Jesus is Immanuel: God (in the person of the eternal Son) with us.

Christmas Verses – Luke 1:29-38

But she [Mary] was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:29-38.

Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. He is to be called Jesus. He will be great, the Son of the Most High, and the ruler of the Davidic kingdom. Gabriel gives Mary a sign: Elizabeth, who was formerly barren, is now pregnant and will have a son.

Gabriel concludes by saying “nothing will be impossible with God.” Do you believe this today? Is there something in your life that seems impossible? God can overcome what we consider impossible! He is in the business of doing just that.