December 2: Disturbing Joy!

Devotionals > December 2: Disturbing Joy!

December 2: Disturbing Joy!

December 2, 2015


fromourfamilytoyours by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:29-34:

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
Now the angel’s greeting had left Mary disturbed, deeply and profoundly concerned. While many of us might have been pleased to have been told by an angel that we are highly favored, the consistent witness of Scripture is that when someone meets an angel they are scared. Far from the childhood picture of an angel as a sweet little fairy, angels appeared to people in the Bible as terrifying visitations. So the angel notices that, like so many times when they appear to humans, Mary is frightened by the sight of an angel. But not only is Mary afraid at the very sight of an angel, she is worried about being told that she is highly favored. What on earth (or in heaven) could be going on? Why is she being selected of all the people she knew for this kind of greeting? Contrary to popular belief, even in the Bible angel appearances are extremely rare. And when they occur, it is not common to be told immediately that you are highly favored. Mary, greeted in this high and lofty manner, shows her humility by being troubled by it, not being puffed up by it. Then the angel explains. This thing that is going to happen is absolutely and completely miraculous. You have found favor with God. You will have a child, called Jesus, who will be great and the Son of the Most High. He is in the line of David, and he will rule from David’s throne. God’s kingdom is coming! And, Mary, you are going to have an absolutely key part to play in this divine drama. Once again, Mary shows her character. She is not only humble, she is level-headed. Hold on here, “I am a virgin, how can this be?” And Mary receives an answer (v 35-37) that for a lesser person would have been unacceptable, but for Mary, highly favored, it was enough that the Lord had spoken (v 38). The whole message of Christmas is something that, while on the one hand grants us the potential to be favored with grace from God, on the other hand is also disturbing. That God would come into this world. That God would come to redeem. That God (the “divine interferer” as C.S. Lewis said he felt about him in his pre-conversion days) would mess around in our lives, and so break with our so-called rules as to rupture space time and invest the magnanimity of deity in a baby. Joy, certainly, but disturbing! The kind of joy that does not allow us to go about our lives in the same old way, in the same old patterns, the same old temptations to give into, and the same squabbles to have, and the same meaningless lives to lead. No, this great disturber speaks a new dawn of a new day, and its message, if received afresh again this Christmas, will disturb us as it grants the favor of joy forever.]]>


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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