Christmas

The Outsider’s Welcome News: Meditations on the Revelation of Ywhweh to his people through Luke (Meditations on the Gospels Book 3) – Kindle edition by Kohn, Allison. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ AmazonSmile.

The story of Jesus is a wonderful harvest of the Holy Scriptures and the history that took place at that time. Luke used information gathered from the original eye witnesses who served Jesus – the Word made flesh who walked among the humans living on earth at that time[1].

In the sixth month – the month of vav –God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary. The early readers of Luke’s account would have known that the concept of the number six is preparation[2]and that the letter represents connection. Gabriel went to prepare Mary for what was happening to her and the birth of Mary’s son and Elizabeth’s son have a very strong connection.

The fact that Mary lived in Nazareth of Galilee is significant because Nazareth was humble in size as well as its place in the world.

Mary was a young virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph who was a descendant of David. During the interval [3] – between the time when Joseph paid the price for Mary when the terms of the marriage contract began and the actual ceremony and consummation – while Mary was still in her father’s house Gabriel appeared before her. His greeting identified her as highly favored by God and told her that Yahweh was with her so she would know that what he had to say next wouldn’t leave her feeling defenseless. Mary was baffled because Gabriel’s greeting was unexpected and not the usual greeting heard daily in Nazareth. The common greeting would have been Shalom – peace responded by Aleichem Shalom – peace is upon you. Gabriel told her again that she had nothing to be afraid of because she had found favor with God and would give birth to son. Gabriel told her that she was to name her son Jesus[4] and that he would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High[5]. He told Mary that Yahweh would give Jesus the throne of his father[6] David to reign over the house of Jacob in an eternal kingdom.

Mary was confused. She wondered how a virgin could have a baby. She told Gabriel that she was a virgin[7] and he explained that the Holy Spirit of God – the power of the Most High – would cover her. A wondrous Divine purpose embraced Mary’s life. The Spirit of God that breathed upon the face of the waters at creation – a power completely in charge – would breathe new life into Mary’s womb. Gabriel explained that was how the holy child born to her could be called the Son of God. Then he told Mary that her relative Elizabeth was with child even as old as she was – she who was identified as barren. He told her that Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy to reinforce his statement that anything is possible with God.

Mary was ready to accept everything Gabriel had told her. She recognized herself as the servant of the Most High God – Yahweh – and bowed to his will and power in her life. Mary left for the hill country of Judea where Zachariah and Elizabeth lived. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting of Shalom her son leaped in her womb and she was filled with the Spirit of the Most High God and responded – not with the typical response of “Upon you be peace,” but with an affirmation of what Gabriel had told her. Mary was set apart from every other woman on the earth to carry the son of God in her womb. He was set apart from every other male child born on the earth because he was God’s only begotten Son. He was the only one produced in the womb of a human woman without the aid of a human man. He was conceived in the womb by the power of the Spirit of the living God – his DNA was free from the corruption that all the descendants of Adam were born with[8].

Through the power of the Holy Spirit Elizabeth expressed awe that the mother of her God – Yahweh – should go to her. She was aware that the Spirit of God had led Mary there and even the baby in her own womb identified the Son of God in Mary’s womb. The Spirit of God told Mary – through Elizabeth – that she was blessed because she believed that he would do everything that he – Yahweh – told her that he would do when he spoke to her through Gabriel.

Mary told Elizabeth that from the depth of her being she was dancing with joy and mindful of the honor he had bestowed on her by choosing her to carry his Son in spite of her simple status and the lowly – even poor – region she came from. She knew that what the Mighty God was doing for her by choosing her to carry his Son would be remembered forever and she repeated words that had been inspired by God through the ages and passed down and repeated by her ancestors. In the paraphrased words of Eugene Peterson, she said something like, “His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Luke’s early readers would have remembered the political climate that he was talking about when he said, “During the rule of Herod, king of Judea”. History tells us that Herod the Great rose to power during the chaotic period of Roman’s civil wars. Herod sided with Anthony and Cleopatra until Octavia (Caesar Augustus) defeated them and then he quickly swore allegiance to the winning side. Luke’s early readers knew that Herod’s father Antipater was forcibly converted to Judaism so Herod was a nominal Jew and – besides the many temples and cities that he built to the many gods of Rome – Herod overhauled and added to the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Herod held on to his power by killing anyone including his own children – which he thought might be a threat to his control.

During the time after the birth of John – when Mary was still pregnant with her firstborn son – Caesar Augustus – the Caesar who was Octavia – issued a degree that a census was to be taken. Luke wanted his reader to know that it was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Luke’s early readers would have known that Quirinius was governor of Syria twice and understood the significance of Luke’s recording. The important thing for today’s reader is that everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be recorded. Since Joseph was a descendant of David he had to go to Bethlehem where David was born to be registered. He left Nazareth in Galilee – along with Mary because she was his espoused wife. The marriage hadn’t been consummated yet but she was heavy with the new life that the Spirit of God – the Spirit that breathed upon the face of the waters at creation[9]–breathed into Mary’s womb. Luke wanted his reader to know that while they were in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her firstborn son[10]. Luke emphasized the humble home that Jesus – God made manifest in the flesh[11] – came from and dwelt in while he was here on earth by telling his reader that Mary wrapped Jesus and laid him in a manger because his parents couldn’t get into the guest-room it was so crowded. He was born in a humble home where the mangers were built into the lower end of the floor – mangers were carved out of the floor to feed the sheltered animals at night. They were in the main family room. The people of that era and area lived close to nature so Luke’s early readers wouldn’t have even considered that Jesus was born in a barn as barns and houses were one and the same[12]. It is important for you and me today to remember that God came into the very world that he had created[13] and he was born in a humble home to humble parents from a humble village. He was laid in the lowest part of the house when he was born and he was wrapped in swaddling clothes just like any other baby born in that area and era. Nothing on the earth that he created was too unassuming, lowly, poor, or unsophisticated for him. He is our example so we should know that everything that life brings our way – no matter how crude or un-important that it looks to us – is from God so it is good and it is important.

Bethlehem was crowded with the descendants of David and others whose ancestors had been born there. The guest rooms of the houses were full. God could have worked it out so that Joseph and Mary arrived in the town before the guestroom was full so that Jesus could be born in that room. Instead he chose the family room where he shared his first bed with lowly animals – in a manger where the sheep dwelt at night – for the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world[14].

Luke wanted his reader to know that there were a lot of sheep in the field[15] nearby with their shepherds watching over them through the night. In spite of the fact that shepherds were one of the most important workers in that society in that era and area they were despised by the upper echelons of society. Their place in the world was even more humble than that of Mary and Joseph, Nazareth, or the house that sheltered them in Bethlehem[16]. God chose to go to the shepherds with the good news so his angel appeared to them in the field and the glory of the Lord shone around them[17]. The shepherds were afraid that God was judging them but the angel told them not to be afraid. At every significant moment in history God has always told his people not to be afraid. God is the God of good news. Bad news in a person’s life is the absence of God in his or her life. When God is not in one’s life it is because he or she has made the decision not to let him in – so bad news is the result of his or her bad decision.

Luke wanted his reader to know that the angel told the shepherds that he had great news for them. He told them that the good news was for everyone in the world. That very day a Savior had been born in Bethlehem – the city of David. The angel told the shepherds that the Savior was the Mashiach[18] – the Lord[19]. He was none other than the Lord of glory – God incarnate. They would know that they had found the Mashiach because he was wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger. They wouldn’t find him in a palace. They would find him in the humble house of one of the descendants of David – not in the guest room but in the lowest part of the home. Then the angel of God was joined by a great company of angels singing “Glory to God in the highest and peace and good will to people on earth” – a message to the world from its creator. Our magnificent God wishes his human creatures well and offers us peace.

As soon as the angels were out of sight the shepherds made their way to Bethlehem to see the Mashiach. They believed what the Lord had told them and wanted to see with their own eyes. They found Jesus lying in the manger and told everyone what the angel had said to them about the Mashiach. Then they went out and spread the good news. They extolled and praised God and what he had told them to everyone they met.

Months before God’s Angel Gabriel had told Mary that her son would be the Son of God. Mary believed God and it was accounted unto her as righteousness[20]. Mary wasn’t perfect. She was born in the corruption of her ancestors like everyone else, but she believed God and; therefore, she received the promise. She hoped – and against all hope believed God – because she was persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised. After her son was born the shepherds increased her understanding when they told her that the angel of Yahweh had told them that her son was the Son of David – the Mashiach. She knew what the prophet Isaiah had said about the son born to God’s chosen people[21]. For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this. Mary didn’t understand that there was a connection between those prophetic words and Isaiah’s prophesy of the one who would be despised and rejected of men – a man of sorrows acquainted with grief[22]. Luke wanted his reader to know that she held the knowledge that she did have in her heart and meditated on it. She didn’t demand an explanation, but instead she put her metaphorical hand firmly in the hand of her Savior and walked humbly with her God.


[1] John 1:14

[2] https://www.betemunah.org/six.html

[3] Sometimes as much as a year

[4] Yeshua means Yahweh saves

[5] Yahweh – the great I AM

[6] Ancestor

[7] A young woman who has not had sexual relations Isaiah 7:14

[8] Romans 5:12

[9] a power completely in charge

[10] Which implies that she had more children after Jesus was born

[11] John 1:1-4, 10, 14; Matthew 1:23

[12] www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/The-Manger

[13] John 1:10

[14] John 1:29

[15] In a common pasture probably in September

[16] Luke 1:52 he has exalted the lowly

[17] The angel of God reflected the glory of God signifying the return of God’s presence and mercy to his chosen people. Ezekiel 8, 9, 10

[18] The Son of David – the anointed one

[19] Kurios – Yahweh

n[20] Romans 4:1-22.

[21] Isaiah 9:6, 7

[22] Isaiah 53

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