Second Sunday of Advent

Notes for Dec. 10, 2017
Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38

Biblical Background

  • Mary’s Faith: In contrast to the older, Zechariah, Mary, the teenager demonstrates the power of simple faith. A parallel passage in the Old Testament contrasts the faith of Hannah with the priest Eli (1 Samuel 1-2). In both cases, a humble and little known servant of God bears a child who brings revival to Israel - of course Jesus does it on an infinitely grander scale than Samuel.

  • Nazareth – was a village of little importance of around 1,500 – 2,000 people. .

  • Gabriel – is one of only two angels mentioned by name in the Old Testament (Daniel 8:16; 9:21) and the New Testament. The other was Michael (Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1).

  • Pledged to be married: In Jewish culture, the engagement was much more binding than it is today. To break an engagement was closer to a modern-day divorce. The only thing difference between an engagement and marriage was that it was after the public marriage ceremony that the couple had sexual intercourse for the first time and consummated the marriage. Prior to that, sexual relations were off limits during the engagement time.

  • Virgin: While in Jewish culture, young women were called “virgins,” it is also clear from Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement that she had never had sexual intercourse with a man and so was a virgin in the purest sense of the word. It is clear from the Nativity passage in Matthew 1:18-25 that Joseph also was convinced that Mary was a virgin. For at first when he heard the news, he was ready to divorce her quietly, assuming that she had sexual relations with another man. However, an angel of Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that Mary’s pregnancy was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14; 8:810, that a virgin would conceive and give birth to Immanuel. One argument used against the Bible is that people in that day in age didn’t have access to modern scientific knowledge and so were naïve. However, it is clear that Joseph wasn’t naïve. He knew how babies were made. That is the reason that he at first wanted to divorce Mary. However, he realized that this birth was miraculous, supernatural, something extraordinary that had never happened before. Belief in the virgin birth as recited in the Apostles Creed is biblical and demonstrates confidence in God who can do the impossible.

  • The Greeting – Mary had no rank or social status and yet is greeted with three greetings 1) Hail or Rejoice; 2) Favored one – (unfortunately the Latin translation “full of grace” is not the best translation and has led to the false teaching that Mary can pass on grace to us which has led to the unhealthy, unbiblical veneration of Mary). 3) The Lord is with you.

  • Do Not Fear – angels commonly use this greeting as their presence is overwhelming to human beings.

  • For nothing will be impossible with God – The miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit within Mary and the virgin birth make the entrance of Jesus into the world possible and it also sets Jesus apart from any other person known in history as He is God in human flesh.

  • Mary’s response: Mary’s humility, servant-like nature, and acceptance of God’s call on her life is exemplary. She is a role model to us all in how to respond to the Lord in whatever ways He calls upon us or speaks to us.

Discussion Questions

  1. Gabriel appears to Zechariah in Luke 1:13-17. Compare what he says to Zechariah to what he says to Mary. What are the similarities and differences in what Gabriel says?

  2. How does Mary respond differently than Zechariah to Gabriel’s message?

  3. What attributes or character traits does Mary demonstrate in her response to Gabriel?

  4. Have you ever doubted or questioned God? What did that look like?

  5. How can we develop a Mary response rather than a Zechariah response to God?

  6. Mary states that she is a virgin. What does this mean and why is it important to know in this story?

  7. How does the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb occur? Why was it necessary for Jesus to be conceived in this way?

  8. Was Mary sinless?

  9. Why do you think God chose Mary for the conception of Jesus?

  10. How was Jesus not born a sinner like the rest of us human beings? (1 Corinthians 15:45-50).

  11. What do we learn about Mary’s future son from the angel?

  12. What expectations are we given as to what Mary’s son will accomplish?

  13. Do you believe that “Everything is possible with God?” What does that mean?