by Doris H. Murdoch, teacher and author of Testify: By the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony and Constructing Your Testimony.
In God’s fulfilled promise of the Messiah, let us look at the Promise’s Names, the annunciation of the Promise, the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, and how all of this should affect us in our roles as followers of the Promise.
God’s promise was fulfilled through the Virgin Mary in the birth of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus (Luke 1:31 “the Lord saves”) is described as the Promised Messiah, the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32), Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14-16), and the Son of God (Luke 1:35). In Micah 5:2-5, the Promise was described as the Ruler in Israel, Peace, Great, Shepherd, Eternal and This One. His name continues in Isaiah 9:6-7 with Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace.
We know that the Virgin Mary lived in the town of Nazareth (Luke 1:26) when the angel Gabriel spoke to her and the Holy Spirit came upon her. Today the Church of the Annunciation marks this part of Nazareth. This event came about fourteen generations from David to deportation to Babylon and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah (Matthew 1:17). God really has the details down in His plans, doesn’t He?
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit did not overlook other individuals involved in this story. We know the Holy Spirit moved in Elizabeth and her unborn son, John the Baptist, when the baby leaped with joy within Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41, 44). With this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth cried out with a loud voice, “Blessed are you, Mary, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” In Luke 1:68-79, we read how the Holy Spirit filled Zechariah (Zacharias) and revealed that John would “prepare the way” for the Promise of salvation and forgiveness of sins. Zechariah praises God in verses 68-75 and then gives a blessing on his newborn son in verses 76-79.
God’s favor or blessings don’t always bring immediate pleasure. Mary and Joseph had to be patient and forgiving for surely the two had to tolerate a certain amount of gossip and ridicule. Mary traveled to Bethlehem in the latter part of her pregnancy. Here she was, a young and probably petite girl about 13 years old when she gave birth to her first child in a stable or cave in extremely humble circumstances. After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to face the struggles of relocation in Egypt as they fled from King Herod. Mary had to face the death of her son Jesus as He was crucified on the cross in His adult years. Mary may not have felt blessed until after the resurrection of Jesus or possibly not until she sat at the feet of Jesus in heaven. We will face struggles also; belief in Jesus Christ does not free us from the struggles of life. We, too, may have to face death of family, persecution, relocation, discomforts, and so forth. We may not see blessings until we sit at the feet of Jesus! It may even be our children or grandchildren that receive the blessings of our faith while on earth.
Cherish the Promise and our role as a follower of Jesus Christ. Let’s offer ourselves wholly, joyfully and obediently to God, just as Mary did…”Here I am, Lord. Use me according to Your will or plan.”