30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
Here is the wonder of the Incarnation, the “enfleshment” — God becoming flesh and taking to himself our humanity! Here is the boundless, infinite God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, coming down into the narrow straits of time and space to join sides with us. In this he becomes bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, taking as his own our struggle with sin and death.
He who spoke the whole cosmos into existence, would for nine months float helplessly in amniotic fluid, struggle through the birth canal, gasp for his first breath of mortal air, and be laid in a feeding trough for cattle. No wonder startled angels looked on in wordless awe.
The utter sublimity and transcendence of the moment was affirmed by early Christians in the Nicene Creed: “…Light of light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made. Who for us and our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin, and became man.”
Is it any wonder that Mary inquired of the angel”: “How can this be?” Yes, how can she, a virgin girl, carry and bring forth the King of Glory? But read again the angel’s words and marvel at the ineffable mystery:
* 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…*For nothing will be impossible with God.’
“For nothing is impossible with God.”
That was the key then, and it is the key now. Nothing is impossible with God! Hold to that! “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, Mary.” The Holy Spirit who had once created the heavens and earth ex nihilo, “out of nothing”, will from the barren emptiness of a virgin’s womb bring forth the eternal Son of God. And the same Holy Spirit who came upon Mary now lives in believers today to raise up in us the very life and likeness of God’s Son. He is making us like Christ!
But “how can this be?” How can the Holy Spirit work this wonder in you and me? Ah, but “nothing is impossible with God.” Only believe! Jesus wills to be born in the stable of our hearts!
Ah! dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee. – Martin Luther
Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest with today’s scripture text,
Luke 1:30-35, and devotional.