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Bible Trek

The birth of Jesus foretold | Bible Trek – Nazareth Series - 02

The Church or Basilica of the Annunciation represents the location where we think the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she would become pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Mary, likely to have been only 14–16 years old at the time, is renowned for her profound act of submission to God. She agrees to carry the Son of God in her womb, despite the enormous potential for rejection by her community and by Joseph (to whom she was engaged), not to mention the undoubted risk to her own life.

Quick read

Luke 1.29–33

In a nutshell

‘And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!”’ Luke 1.28, ESV

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Mary, the future mother of Jesus, was living in Nazareth when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, announcing that she would give birth to a son. In the 1960s a church was built over a cave associated with the Virgin. And while no-one can locate the exact spot where Mary grew up, archaeologists have worked out that poorer folk in Nazareth did live in cave-like dwellings, rather than houses.

The Church of the Annunciation is an impressive building and much larger than your average Middle Eastern Christian place of worship. It includes a grotto where the home of the Virgin is traditionally located and was converted into a church in the fifth century.

Luke’s Gospel closely links the birth of Jesus with that of John the Baptist. The Church of the Nativity of St John towers over the village of Ein Karem on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Tradition has it that John the Baptist was born there.

Mary, from a poor area in the backwater town of Nazareth was quietly growing up, engaged to Joseph and probably planning her future. Then everything changed, her life got turned upside down. Aged around 14–16, the angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She would bear the Son of God, Israel’s promised Messiah.

How do you deal with that kind of life-changing moment and that kind of news?

Mary lived in a small community. Over the coming months, everyone would know. She wouldn’t be able to hide this. She risked judgement, shame, rejection and even her life. Not only that, but how would Joseph take the news? What would he think? Could their relationship survive? Would she be alone?

Mary submitted – she surrendered and accepted her calling. She simply stated: ‘I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me, according to your word.’ (Luke 1.38, ESV) Even though her obedience would be costly, she was ready to do this because she believed in a mighty and faithful God at work to fulfil his promises and save his people.

Where do you need to surrender today? What circumstances are you facing; large or small that involve a hundred unanswerable questions? What messes and unsolvable situations are you encountering? Can you, dare you, simply surrender them to God? 

Read on, to find out more about the relationship between Jesus and John:

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