1 – 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 1:5-7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
RAF: We should be careful not think in terms of God dealing with us in a tit-for-tat paradigm. Simply because Zechariah and Elizabeth had remained devoid of the blessing of children prior to this time – we are not to conclude they were somehow living in disobedience or sin. The text tells us just the opposite. Sometimes, we can be serving in the most perfect of ways, and yet God in His love and wisdom may withhold some proper, normal or perceived good. Ours, is to rest in Him. This is a word most especially meant to comfort those who may have long desired a spouse, children of their own, perhaps even a particular field of service. Many under such circumstances can be led to think that there must be some sort of sin or defect which prevents their having such blessings. And while the question is good in that examining our hearts for unrepentant sin is always a useful exercise – nevertheless, one can torture their own soul needlessly if they have concluded this “must” be the case. Let us learn to trust our Lord’s providential appointments. Given a life ordinarily lived uprightly before Him, He does not withhold His good things from us – excepting to grant us some other blessing in His infinite wisdom and loving heart – which eternity will reveal to have been greater than that we sought in our fallen wisdom. Trust Him believed – trust Him. Those in Christ must remember we are dealt with as beloved children, not mere citizens of our Lord’s Kingdom. Citizens we are – but more, we are His own!
2 – And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 1:38). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
RAF: Mary had to be at least partially aware that such a situation would leave her open to not being believed, and to scorn and prejudice the rest of her life. It was a shame of epic proportions for her to be pregnant and unmarried in that day and culture. How in the world would Joseph ever believe her apart from divine revelation? And the stigma of this scandalous birth would attach itself not only to her, her family, Joseph and his family, but to the child and the rest of their children in time.
It is one thing to own such things ourselves, and quite another to bring the inexplicable, and undesirable upon others – with no way to mitigate it for them. Our faith is tested far more severely in matters like this than in almost anything we endure ourselves or secretly. What we cannot explain so as to set other’s minds at ease or erase their wrong opinions, weighs heavily upon our hearts. Decades later, Jesus Himself would have the appearance of His illegitimate conception be grist for His detractors mills (John 8:41). At such times, Jesus took no pains to clear His name. No one would understand. He commits it to His Father. Hence His own dear heart is tender to our pain under such circumstances. Oh for the clarity of Heaven, and the final revealing of God’s hand in wisdom in the end. He knows our trials well.
3 – 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 2:11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
RAF: While the word “you” here is in the 2nd person singular, no one would dream the idea is that the Savior born that day belonged only to the Shepherds being spoken to at that moment. This good news is to be told to everyone. Yet, it is personal in that He was to be THEIR Savior personally, though not exclusively. Those who imagine an impersonal salvation – just some sort of amorphous, nondescript and universal salvation for all are most tragically and eternally in error. He is the Savior of the World – the World’s Savior as sufficient for all and truly offered to all. And yet, in the end, He is the Savior of none but those who believe. One must put their personal trust in this Savior themselves. Have you?