On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations,
We notice at very first glance his miraculous conception. It was a matter unheard of before and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a son. The first promise of sanctification and redemption concerned the seed of the first woman, not the offspring of the man. Since a venturesome woman led the way in the sin that resulted in paradise lost, she, and she alone, now ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. His mother is described most simply as "the virgin" not princess or prophetess, nor woman of influence or worldly status. True, the blood of kings runs in her veins and her mind is not weak or untaught, for as she sings a song of praise for her glorious fortune, she witnesses for us her complete understanding of God's revelation to us in Scripture, for she is not only a woman from Scripture, but a woman who knows Scripture. Yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she is engaged and how miserable the accommodation provided by the world for the newborn king!
Emmanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our daily work, in our punishment, in our death and now with us, fully with us, or most clearly, rather we are now with him in Resurrection, ascension, triumph and in second-coming splendor.
It is heavenly poetry to be enjoyed. The message of the angels is to be sung. A virgin shall conceive; a virgin shall bear a son! From Jesse's seed and root, behold a branch arises whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the sky. The Eternal Spirit moves over its leaves. And upon it descends the Mystic Dove. The heavens on high pour out a dewy nectar and in soft appealing silence shed the kindly shower. The sick and weak this healing plant shall create from storms a shelter and from its head some holy shade. All crimes will cease and ancient fraud shall fail, returning justice aloft the scale. Peace over the earth, the old olive wood extends as angels announce white - robed innocence from heaven descends. Swiftly have flown the years since the fall and arise on the unexpected morning as springs to light, the auspicious Infant Child being born!
“You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus” Luke 1: 31. When the mighty angelic visitor entered the humble home in Nazareth unannounced, but not uninvited because her lifestyle caught the eye of earth's Creator, and called the ever-Virgin by name, the teenaged girl must have looked like she had seen a ghost. The archangel Gabriel recognizes Mary's fear and tells her not to be afraid. Then he announces something to her that would have seemingly frightened her even more. Even though she is not married and was totally innocent in the eyes her Maker, even though she preserved herself by his grace precisely as she was born, she was about to have a baby. Not just any baby, however. This child “...will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” Luke I : 32. This child is the promised Messiah, the Redeemer of the world. Then the heavenly visitor instructs Mary to give her child an Aramaic name, Jesus. Like the Hebrew equivalent, Joshua, the name means Saviour.
Only the sinless Son of Mary has ever offered true living and even dying proof that the Lord saves us from our sin. He does it in coming, in the manger and He does it again in completing his earthly task on the cross. The reason there is something about the name Jesus is because there is something unique about the One who gives him that name, who shares with him that name and makes him astoundingly different and unique for our need. He is Master, Saviour, eternal King. He is Lord, God;, He is Jesus who saves us from our sin.
“But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be since I do not know man’” Luke 1: 34? Our spiritual life to be every day proof that God works impossibilities, a continuing, ongoing series of impossibilities made possible and actual by the almighty power of our God. That is what the Christian needs as he makes himself usable through cooperation with grace, to God. The believer has an almighty God whom he worships and he must understand that he does not need a little of God's power, but needs it with reverence it must be said, the whole of God's omnipotence to keep him right and to live like genuine follower of Jesus Christ.
The whole of our blessed Orthodox faith is a work of God's all powerfulness. Since from the Nativity of Jesus Christ, we have a manifestation of the beginning of all heaven's power counteracting and overcoming the work of hell and the devil. This is a miracle of divine interception and power as it was witnessed to the ever-Virgin: “With God nothing shall be impossible” Luke 1: 37.
Everything that is about to take place in the earthly life of our Lord is evidence of the omnipotence of our God. Look at his reception of the angels, the shepherds and the Wise Men; look at his teaching in the temple as a young man, behold his Baptism in the River Jordan, notice how He teaches, witness as He enters Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey and finally is raised upon the tree of the Cross and then how omnipotently He rises from the grave. Pay attention as He mandates his Body, and Bride, the Church, commissioned on Pentecost to continue his work of redemption. Over and again, we are continually taught that was according to the exceeding greatness of his mighty power that God worked all these astounding signs in Christ.
Let us today permit ourselves to be used by the Son so the glory of the Father is manifested through the grace of the Holy Spirit working in us. Amen.
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