Mary's Visitation, Part 4, Final
Oct 05, 2013
In Luke 1:34, Mary questioned the angel in regard to his announcement about her having a child:
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
The NASB substitutes “virgin” for “a man I do not know” (andra ou ginosko). It means the same thing, of course, but “virgin” is less literal. Either way, it shows that Mary was more than a young woman but was also a virgin by her own testimony.
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power [dunamis] of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring [gennao, “what is begotten”] shall be called the Son of God.”
Gabriel tells Mary that she will be impregnated by the Most High (El Elyon), and “for that reason” Jesus would be “the Son of God.” This establishes the pattern of how we are all to become the sons of God (John 1:12). In Acts 1:8 the author (Luke) recalled similar words of Jesus, as He prepared the disciples to be begotten by the Holy Spirit. “But you shall receive power [dunamis] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The wording is essentially the same, though written in a different order.
The Holy Spirit begets Christ in us, and that which is begotten in us is holy. It is the real you, as you identify with the Christ in you, for that holy seed is what you are becoming as you grow spiritually.
There were rabbis who expected the Messiah to be born in a supernatural manner. John Lightfoot quotes one of them, saying,
“Truth shall spring out of the earth.” R. Joden, saith he, notes upon this place, that it is not said, Truth shall be born, but shall spring out; because the generation and nativity of the Messiah is not to be as other creatures in the world, but shall be begot without carnal copulation; and therefore no one hath mentioned his father, as who must be hid from the knowledge of men till himself shall come and reveal him.” (Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Vol. III, p. 26)
So we see that there were those who expected the Messiah to be born in a supernatural manner—if not from a virgin, then at least by springing out of the earth in some other way. The angel then informs Mary of another pregnancy in Luke 1:36, 37,
36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.
So two miracles were happening. First, Elizabeth was having a natural-born son “in her old age,” that is, after menopause. The precedent for this, of course, was when Sarah conceived and gave birth to Isaac when she was long past child-bearing age. Second, Mary was having a supernaturally-born son in her youth as a virgin. This was unprecedented, of course, but God can perform both types of miracles just as easily, “for nothing is impossible with God.”
Luke concludes his narrative of Mary’s visitation in Luke 1:38,
38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
When Mary’s questions were answered, she agreed to become the mother of the Messiah, considering herself to be a “handmaid” (KJV) or “bondslave” (NASB) of God. There are some spiritual implications in her statement, for we are all Marys in this matter of Sonship. Christ is conceived in us while we are yet bondwomen, even as with Mary, but the birth of this son of God in us takes place through the free woman.
Christ is conceived in us through the revelation of Passover, but that holy seed, after developing in Pentecost, is brought to birth through the feast of Tabernacles. Our Passover experience takes place when we are begotten by the seed of the gospel, being evidenced by faith in the blood of the Lamb. The outworking and growth of that seed of faith is evidenced by “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5), as we learn to be led by the Spirit through Pentecost. The birth of Christ in us comes only when we have developed to the place where we no longer need the womb of the bondwoman to sustain us, and then we are ready for full birth through the feast of Tabernacles.
This also shows that we are still part of the bondwoman until we are fully born. Hence, the Old Covenant, which is the bondwoman, yet serves a purpose in our lives, even though we are heirs of the promise. Paul lays down this principle in Galatians 4:1, 2,
1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave, although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.
This principle applies on two levels: corporate and personal. On the corporate level, the Old Covenant was given through Moses, and fleshly Israel was the son of the bondwoman. The next step in time was Pentecost in Acts 2, which is the time when the promise is received, and the developing sons of God grow in a mixture realm of wheat and leaven (Leviticus 23:17). That is, the Church has a New Covenant promise, but is yet mixed with the Old Covenant and lives under the authority of men. Finally, Tabernacles fully implements the New Covenant, and the (corporate) New Creation Man is brought to birth as “Isaac,” the son of the “freewoman.”
On the personal level, a new believer comes to Christ by vowing to follow Him, much the same as Israel did in establishing the Old Covenant in Exodus 19:8. He then moves on into Pentecost, receiving the baptism of fire, so that the leaven in him might be destroyed. Those who allow this “fire” to do its work in their lives will grow in Christ and gradually learn to function under the New Covenant.
The corporate and the personal come together at the historic, corporate fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, where the individual, mature sons of God are raised from the dead or “changed” into His likeness (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
When we understand this process, we then have sufficient background to see how Mary prophesied by referring to herself as a “bondwoman” when the Holy Spirit conceived Christ in her. Though no more is said of this in Luke 1:34, our understanding of the two covenants and of Hagar and Sarah can give us much insight into the spiritual process by which we all may bring forth “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
This is part 4 of a mini-series titled "Mary's Visitation." To view all parts, click the link below.
This is part 3 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.