Before people scream “heresy” or “blasphemy” I would ask you to consider the plain and simple truth that Mary was the mother of God, even if she did not fully understand that to be the case. As a Protestant I do not believe that Mary should hold some elevated status. She was a simple and frail human being just like the rest of us. I think that there are some within the Christian family that have gone too far in seeking to praise Mary for her role in the Christmas story. However, I do believe that those of us on the other side of the family do not go far enough in recognizing the remarkable fact that Mary was the one chosen for this sacred task.
I have often asked the question to myself, “why did God choose Mary?” I will admit that we will never fully know why God chose Mary. That isn’t for us to know. But, we can get a sense of what God was thinking based on the way Mary interacted with the angel Gabriel. The Bible provides for us a clear and concise depiction of Mary and her response to what God was placing upon her young shoulders. There are two characteristics I believe highlight God’s choice of Mary. These two attributes are seen in Mary’s response to the message brought by the Angel of God.
Continue reading Advent Series 2012, Pt. 4 | Mary: The Mother of God
Where has 2012 gone? Another year almost in the record books, but we still have one more month to go. December is an amazingly busy time around the church. There is a lot going on, but one of the realities my mind turns to around this time of year is the fact that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was born in the home of ordinary and humble people. I think that we take for granted that there was not anything overly remarkable about Jesus earthly parents. I don’t know if Mary and Joseph fully understood what it meant that the baby born in the stable that first Christmas night would be the Messiah. I am not fully convinced that they fully could comprehend what God was going to do through their faithful obedience. What they did know was that this little, precious bundle of joy was going to change their lives forever! I think every parent understands this even if they are not sure how.
The mystery of Advent (what us church nerds call this time of the year) is that God became like one of us. The technical term for this is “Incarnation.” When we talk about Jesus coming into the world as a baby we are saying that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, took upon himself something that he did not have before the moment of conception! The Trinity existed as spirit. But, after Jesus descended into the womb of Mary he no longer exists in this way. The great miracle and mystery of this truth is that Jesus voluntarily confined himself to the body of a human being so that we can enter into fellowship with the Father.
Continue reading Advent Series 2012, Pt. 2 | Who Doesn’t Like Baby Jesus?
From now until Christmas I will be taking another look at various ideas, places and characters of the story of Jesus’ arrival hear on earth. The reality of what God was doing and is doing in the world is, I believe, best demonstrated in the events surrounding the birth of the Messiah. We must not be surprised that God’s approach to the affairs of humanity are unusual and unexpected. We have grown so accustomed to what we have heard so many times, we no longer invest any more energy than is necessary to recollect the mystery and peculiarity of the story.
This is the challenge of this time of the year. We have become so acclimated to the songs and lights that we have missed the essence of what is taking place around us–and should be taking place within us as well. Christmas is more than just a holiday for those of us who follow and worship Jesus. Christmas is a reminder that truly remarkable events took place in the midst of unusual circumstances. If we can regain some of that awkwardness inherent in the story, we might find a renewed sense of why this moment in our faith history is so important.
I don’t know if the people involved in the Christmas story fully understood what was taking place around them. Many people hope to be included in the making of history, but it may be more true that we only realize that history was made as we walked along faithfully. If the various players in the Christmas story were people like us they were sufficiently concerned with making it through one day at a time. It is possible there were times where they suspected that something more was taking place. It could have simple been the yearning of every human heart to be involved in something greater than themselves. We will never know for sure.
My hope is to revisit the familiar events and circumstances of the Christmas season and remind us all of what many already know, that Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
My prayer is that we see the coming of the Christ with new eyes.
In the booklet “Why on Earth did Jesus come?” John Blanchard tackles the long asked question about Jesus mission. The forty pages really do pack a punch. The discussion begins by exploring the Church’s selection and use of December 25th as the day to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Blanchard explains that the question surround Jesus birthday did not pick up momentum until the third century. For the next one hundred years eight dates were suggested with December 25 being selected because it served as a counter to a “Roman feast held on that day in honour (sic) of the pagan sun god” (pg. 4). Overall the book is a quick read and provides a succinct overview of some important doctrines and misconceptions surround Jesus’ life, ministry and mission.
The book covers many of the major issues regarding the birth of and the purpose for Jesus coming to earth. Here are is a short list of the subjects addressed
- The Virginity of Mary
- The Immaculate Conception of Mary
- The Incarnation of Christ (Theological and Biological Reflections)
- The Identity of Jesus (Prophetically, Biblically, Personally)
- The Biblical Doctrine of Sin and Depravity
- The Act and Process of Redemption in Christ
This is a wonderful resource for anyone that is interested in exploring any of the above topics. The life of Jesus is not something that we can learn enough about. The more we know about him the greater our understanding of his mission and victory over sin. And the more our love for our Savior grows.
Blanchard does not waste words trying to convince you of something that is false. Rather, there is a simple progression through the key ideas and challenges to the work and life of Jesus. While the content is rich, it does not get bogged down in technical jargon. I would strongly recommend this book for a new believer or even a maturing believer that is looking to be reminded of the miraculous life of Jesus.