Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?( Genesis 3:1-2)
The Angel approached the couple in the garden very calmly, and in an attractive form. “Eve, has God really forbidden you to eat of all of the trees of the garden?” By exaggerating the prohibition placed upon the couple, the serpent was probing, looking for any indication of a rift between they and God.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.(Genesis 3:3)
The Woman didn’t accept the premise that all of the trees were forbidden, the serpent knew she wouldn’t go that far. But she did exaggerate the prohibition of God, when she said, “We can’t touch the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.”
Aha! There it is! Now the woman is ready to hear the Word of God openly denied!
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.(Genesis 3:4-5)
Exploiting the opening, the serpent wasted no time, slandering the One who had placed the couple in the garden of delights. Maximizing the prohibition, and minimizing the penalty- “You shall not surely die”- he captured the couple’s imagination, they believed the lie, and acted on it.
Millenia of suffering, pain, death, alienation and misery hung on the few seconds of thought described in the next verse. She considered the “word” of the serpent, and what this ‘revelation’ could do for herself. And she stretched out her hand towards the fruit…
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.(Genesis 3:6)
Long ,weary centuries later, another Angel approached another woman, a young Jewish virgin, in the Galilee, on the edge of the Roman Empire, in the hamlet of Nazareth.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.(Luke 1:26-28)
A Holy Angel approached a peasant girl. She happened to have been engaged to a carpenter, together they would keep a pious home, for they were devout Jews. “Highly favored? The Lord is with me? I am blessed among women?” What could these strange greetings possibly mean?
Then came the most shocking words;
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.( Luke 1:30-34)
As a pious Jew ,Mary knew, as all devout Jews knew of the promise of God to her ancestor David, that God would give him a greater Son who would one day reign forever! But she was to be the mother of this Son?
Almost unbelievable! Indeed Mary’s family claimed descent from the line of King David, as did hundreds of thousands of others in the tribe of Judah. Nothing about her life and family spoke of royalty, and furthermore, the royal line of David had long been cut off, the scepter had indeed departed from Judah years earlier.
Oh and one other thing, how was this to come to pass? Would Joseph be the father of this chosen one?
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.(Luke 1:34-35)
The child would be virgin born, truly the Son of God, not in the sense that David and those Sons of David who followed were “Sons of God” , as regents of Israel. This child will be The Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and without the agency of man, a “Holy Thing would be born” of her.
The woman had asked a question of the angel and she had received an answer. An incredible answer, with huge implications for a young ,pious Jewess in a small town. A virgin birth? What will people think? What will Joseph think? She realized that at best, a lifetime of reproach and undeserved shame awaited her decision. But she was highly favored for God wanted to use her…
In that few seconds of agonizing decision, Mary counted the cost. Then said to the Angel and to God –
… Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.(Luke 1:38)
One woman believed an Angel and said to God, “let my will be done,not Thine”. “I do what I want with my body” and trampled underfoot true love, loyalty, and faith.
The other woman believed an Angel of God and said to Him, “Not my will but thine be done, I yield all, even my body to you, even if it means bearing te reproach of Christ”.
Merry Christmas everybody!