Pastor's Blog

Advent in Luke: Mary's Love

Gabriel appears to Zechariah, announcing  the birth of John the Baptist. He is sent to Mary announcing the birth of Jesus. An “angel of the Lord” —likely Gabriel—(2.9) appears to the shepherds in the field, announcing the birth of Jesus.

There is reason to think the angels didn’t know about God’s purpose to save through the cross. For the angels, salvation is something “into which angels long to look.” (1 Pt. 1.12) 

Gabriel told Mary her son would be “called the Son of the Most High”; God would “give to Him the throne of His father David”; He “would reign over the house of Jacob forever”; His kingdom would have “no end.” (Lk.1.31-33). Not a word about the cross.

When Jesus is presented at the Temple, old Simeon tells Mary her Son would be ultimately consequential, adding, “and a sword shall pierce through your own soul also.” (Lk. 2.35) Still, nothing specific about the cross.

After Jesus began His public ministry Mary and His siblings felt a need to pull Jesus back. (Mk. 3.21-35). Jesus chooses: family is more than blood. Family is shared passion for God.

Imagine you are Mary. You remember the powerful promises of Gabriel! You watched your miracle son lay down his carpenter’s tools to … preach. You pled with Him to rejoin you, presumably for His safety. He didn’t. Now you stand a yard from Him as He bleeds out and suffocates on the cross. How did it come to this?

You loved Him when you didn’t understand Him. You remember. The Shepherds. The boy in the Temple. You remember His public rejection of you. You remember it all.  Yet Gabriel’s promises will achieve a different meaning, and soon.

You are Mary. Yet your mother’s love will deepen. Soon your love for Jesus will be love for your Savior. You will be counted among His followers (Acts 1.14). For you, alone, Jesus your Savior is also Jesus your Son. You remember. You remember it all.


Posted by Tim Alexander with

Advent in Luke: Elizabeth's Peace

What does it take for you to feel at peace? If you’re a budding megalomaniac the answer is simple: “All people everywhere all the time obeying me.”  Anything less and you might feel twitchy.

Most people have thresholds for feeling at peace. A safe and healthy family. A secure and fulfilling job. A network of affirming friendships. Different people draw their line at different places.

Elizabeth was an old woman who lived with more a sense of resignation than peace. By the time the angel breaks into her husband’s routine, Elizabeth had long ago accepted her lot in life.

Her husband was a genuinely good man but he had already topped out as a priest. Like many before him, Zechariah would live his priestly life and then fade from memory. No testimonies. Just a country priest who did his best, God bless him.

And if they didn’t remember Zechariah, they certainly wouldn’t remember his barren wife. Sad, really, for the both of them. Good people who just seem to destined for obscurity. Not even a single child, male or female, to bear witness to their existence.

In her day the “blame” of childlessness lay at her feet. There must be something wrong with her. Either she is poorly made or wrongly behaved. Either way Elizabeth, bears the burden. Sad to be forgotten before you pass away. And childless, too.

But things changed. God chose lowly, obscure Zechariah and Elizabeth as trumpets to herald a new day.

I wonder did her “frown creases” change into “smile creases” during those months of seclusion? Did the etched wrinkles of worry and fatigue smooth out … just a little … while behind closed doors she kept adjusting her old clothes to fit her new body?

“Blessed is she who believed there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Lk. 1.45) Elizabeth said that Mary and it certainly applies, first, to Mary.

But it also applies to Elizabeth. How many years of silent prayers and quiet service? Who knows? But fundamental to her “righteousness before God” (Lk. 1.6) was belief God is God and His Word is true. At first her priest for a husband did not believe God’s word to him.

But Elizabeth did. And she was at peace.


Posted by Tim Alexander with