“what is conceived in [Mary] is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20 NIV)
“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 1:35 NIV)
Mary plays a prominent role in the birth narratives of Jesus evoking several Old Testament incidents, notably the miraculous births of Isaac
(Genesis 18:10-14), Samson
(Judges 13:2-5), and Samuel
(1 Samuel 1:1-20). Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) mirrors Hannah’s song
(1 Samuel 2:1-10), and the choice of the word ‘overshadow’ to describe the action of the Holy Spirit in the virgin conception echoes the cherubim overshadowing the Ark of the Covenant
(Exodus 25:20), the presence of God overshadowing the Tabernacle
(Exodus 40:35) and the hovering of the Spirit over the waters of creation.
The conception and birth of Jesus was a divine initiative in human history through the work of the Holy Spirit which at first glance might appear to indicate an absence; the absence of a human father. But in reality it is the sign of the presence and the work of God. God was at work in these Old Testament texts and in a real and tangible way was at work and demonstrated his presence in the coming of Jesus.
For Christian believers, the virgin conception is a sign of the divine sonship of Jesus and of the new life that comes through the Spirit. It also points to the new birth of every Christian as an adopted child of God. Each is born again (from above) by water and the Spirit
Seen in this light the virgin conception of Mary some 2000 years ago is a powerful expression of the active work and personal presence of God, of the divinity (and humanity) of Jesus, and of our salvation.
Mary is called by the angel
‘the Lord’s favoured one’ (Luke 1:28) a term meaning one who has been and remains endowed with grace, and as we recognise the work of God and his presence with us in Jesus, bringing salvation to the world, we too are highly favoured, endowed with grace now and forever more.
Father thank you that in the fullness of time you sent your only begotten Son to be born of a woman for the reconciliation of humanity to yourself. We have been highly favoured with your presence among us and for the forgiveness so freely given. This is indeed good news for all humankind.
Have a good week living in God’s favour.