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A Birth Like No Other                      8 MAR 15

LUKE 1:26 The Bible records three supernatural births: Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Jesus’ birth was carefully researched and recorded by Luke, who was a physician. It is possible and probably that one of his eye-witnesses (verse 2) was Mary, One tradition has her living in Jerusalem until 70 A.D. when she moved to Ephesus. Luke is writing to a Gentile, so he often includes details a Jew would not need to have. Nazareth was located on a main highway that crossed Galilee and then joined a north-south highway that was on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean Sea. “Sixth month” refers to the 6th month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy (verse 4). Gabriel is one of the two named angels (Michael) in the Bible who are both archangels.

            Ancient religions often have the gods giving birth to one or more gods, demi-gods or special humans. Greek and Roman religions are prime examples. But no other religion has Yahweh as its god. (Acts 4:12 RSV)  "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."" Only Jesus!!!

LUKE 1:27 The Greek for the word “virgin” is parthenos, par-then'-os; of unknown or; a maiden; by impl. an unmarried daughter:--virgin. It was normally used for a sexually pure girl or woman. Mary was probably in her early teen years, maybe 16 or even less. The Greek for “espoused” means the betrothal had been fully made and had been in effect for a while. Betrothal was more than engagement but less than marriage. It was about a year-long pre-marriage without sex or living together. A girl was usually matched when quite young. When she reached the marrying age, she could accept or reject this pre-arrangement. If she accepted, then she became betrothed. Matthew reports that Joseph was of the royal lineage of David. Here "betrothed" refers to the contractual but unconsummated marriage. This type of betrothal (kiddushin, Hebrew.) was as binding as marriage today and could be broken only by divorce. In that day, a pledge meant something. The root of kiddushin means "holiness," with a connotation of separateness, being set aside. Traditionally, the groom gives the bride a ring (or other gift) in the presence of two witnesses and says, Harei at mekudeshet li b'taba'at zo k'dat Moshe v'Yisrael ("Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel"). When she consents, through her silent acceptance of the gift, a marriage has taken place, even if all other familiar aspects of the wedding are missing. In Jewish legal terms, kiddushin is an unambiguously one-sided monogamy clause, forbidding the wife to all other men. The origins of kiddushin are found in the Mishnah [Tractate Kiddushin 1:1], which states that a wife is "acquired" in one of three ways: with money, with a contract, or through intercourse. The first of these three methods became the common practice, and the rabbis of the Talmud developed the ritual of kiddushin to infuse the proceedings with holiness. (Matt 1:6-16) Thus the “root” that Isaiah spoke of was there, but was in the “dry ground” of Judaism of that day. Luke emphasizes that as a virgin, Mary was sexually pure. Actually it had the same meaning for Gentiles.

LUKE 1:28-29 The word “came” suggests a sudden appearance, probably in her mother’s home. Literally Gabriel said “Hail, highly favored one.” Here again we see Luke deferring to the Gentile reader. The Greek for “hail” is the usual Greek greeting. However, it is most probable that Gabriel actually said shalom the Hebrew greeting. The phrase “highly favored” means to have completely bestowed grace. The Greek is clear that God bestowed the grace upon her and not, as Roman Catholics teach that she was given the right to bestow grace herself. The best Greek does not have “blessed art thou among women” here. However it is in Luke 1:42 which has Elizabeth saying it. Thus Gabriel did not say it. He did say “the Lord is with you.” Being a peasant girl, she was very confused about this greeting. Why would God grace such an ordinary girl as she? While all Jewish women wanted to be the mother of the Messiah, the Jews believed the Messiah would be born a Jew of high social and political status or to a priest. Mary certainly was none of these nor was Joseph. So the Greek shows she kept on trying to come up with an answer that made sense to her. This is wonderful! She was a thinking girl! Again we can probably credit her mother for instilling this is her with home schooling.

LUKE 1:30 Perhaps part of her problem was fear of the angel. (Who would not be afraid?) So the next thing Gabriel says is “Stop being afraid.” “Found favor” in the Greek means graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstr. or concr.; lit., fig. or spiritual; espec. the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude):--acceptable. Thus she was a gracious lady of high spiritual character. So this is really another way of saying she was blameless in the same manner as was Elisabeth. So to the list of blameless people: Noah, Abram, David, Job, Day Star [Satan before he sinned], Zacharias and Elisabeth, we should now add Mary and Joseph.

LUKE 1:31 “Behold” introduces the element of surprise. What a surprise indeed. She would become pregnant at the will of God, while an unmarried girl. Here we need to jump to verse 34 to complete this surprise.

LUKE 1:34 Mary did not question the mission of the child but merely how she was to become pregnant since (Greek literal) “A man I am not in the habit of knowing” with “knowing” meaning sexual intercourse. The Greek tense means it was the habit of her life not to have sex and she had had none to that moment. This shows her mother had explained well the sex process. “Man” is without a definite article thus “any man.” She had not had sex with Joseph or any other man, ever. Thus the English “virgin” is accurate. A point about (Isa 7:14 RSV) "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The Hebrew is 5959. 'almah, al-maw'; fem. of H5958; a lass (as veiled or private):--damsel, maid, virgin. This word has the same meaning as we have just discussed for the Greek above.

LUKE 1:31b-33 Mary was to call him “Jesus.” It was a common name among the Jews. The Greek is Joshua. It means “Yahweh is salvation.” He shall be great. (Phil 2:10-11 RSV) "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The idea of “is Lord” in that day and context is to call Jesus Divine. This is something people like the Jehovah Witnesses do not do. They think Jesus is only a human born in a special way but not as divine. They will say salvation is in Jesus but their Jesus is not the Biblical Jesus. Jesus is the sole true heir of the throne of David. (Amos 9:11 RSV) ""In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old;". This is the True Kingdom of God, the SPIRITUAL one. One in which “shall have no end” and one in which Jesus shall reign “forever.” The “house of Jacob” means specifically only True Israel, God’s Faith People of all time. (Rom 9:6; 11:26; 1 Pet 2:4-10) The Futuristic view that Jesus will sit on a physical throne on this Old Earth over physical Israel is not only wrong, it is anti-Biblical. Jesus is already on his Throne. (Col 3:1 RSV) "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." This is no other throne that exists for Jesus. (1 Cor 15:28 RSV) "When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one."

Thus from the moment of the announcement of Jesus’ virgin birth, He has always been a Spiritual Messiah with a Salvation Mission to those who have The singular True Faith in Him.

LUKE 1:35 God does not get mad at honest questions. She was not asking to get out of it but more in the sense to understand so she could do it. So Gabriel gave her a gracious answer. The Holy Spirit will “come upon you.” This was of such importance that Gabriel used a Hebrew parallelism “the power of the Most High shall “overshadow you. It is important to note that scholars state that “overshadow” is never used in the sense of sexual relations. Thus the Holy Spirit did not take human form or stay in his spirit form and have sexual intercourse with Mary as a Greek god would have. Thus Mary was told how she would become pregnant. The Holy Spirit would supernaturally introduce the male component necessary for an egg to become fertilized.  This indeed made Jesus (Greek literal: huios, hwee-os'; appar. a prim. word; a "son" and theos, theh'-osthe supreme Divinity) Son (of) God or God’s Son. Heb 2:14  "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil," Therefore Jesus was 100% Divine and also 100% human. (John 3:16 RSV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." The Greek here is monogenes, mon-og-en-ace'; only-born, i.e. sole:--only (begotten, child). Therefore Jesus is the only human God ever caused to be borne by the Holy Spirit in this fashion. It also means Jesus was the only human bone by God period. Thus Jesus was unique and would be born “holy” in both the sense of being “Holy” and the sense of being set apart. Note that Gabriel said he would be called “the Son of God.” People would come to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

            Paul noted that the proper meaning of ‘Son of God” means Son of God the Father. (2 Cor 1:3 RSV) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort," (1 Th 1:10 RSV) "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."

LUKE 1:36-37 Mary was still trying to appreciate all Gabriel was telling her. So to help, he stated that God had already made Elisabeth, a relative of Mary, pregnant when everybody knew her no longer could. This is a nice gesture of Gabriel. However, the Bible in no way states or suggests that Elisabeth was a virgin. Verse 37 strongly suggests that God caused Elisabeth to become pregnant. But it does not state or suggest this was done without sexual intercourse with her husband. It does suggest that the Holy Spirit used her husband’s sperm to fertilize an egg that grew into John the Baptist. This provided proof to Mary for the statement: “For with God nothing is impossible.” 

But this is not the best translation for “For with God nothing is impossible.” The literal Greek is “Because not shall be impossible alongside God any word.” So any time God speaks a command (word) to do something it will happen. But God cannot do anything. For Example: He cannot save a person who has no personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

LUKE 1:38 Mary’s response was to use the word “handmaid” which is the feminine gender for Greek 1399. doule, doo'-lay; fem. of G1401; a female slave (invol. or vol.):--handmaid (-en). (1 Cor 7:22 RSV) "For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ." This is how Mary felt at this moment.

However, Jesus does not consider Christians to be slaves! (John 15:15 RSV) "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."), we are to be as committed as one to his Lordship. Yet we are the children of our Abba Father and in reality joint-heirs with Jesus in His role as the son of man. (Gal 4:7 RSV) "So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir." So be careful about calling yourself a slave. The Father doesn’t. Jesus doesn’t. Nor should we! We are the free sons and daughters of the Father. It may sound so pious to say “slave”, but it is not. To do otherwise is not to honor Jesus and His words.

            Thus God the Son (Jesus) was born as a human in a unique and singular manner by the command of God the Father and the action-power of God the Holy Spirit.

 

Marvin Ganote, Advanced Bible Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at: http://dma1.org/~ganotemd/lesson.htm  or http://academic.udayton.edu/MarvinGanote/Bible/lessn.htm