Luke 1: 26-27 – Annunciation of Jesus

The Annunciation Story – Luke 1: 26-27

  1. Important characters: Angel and Mary
  2. Geography : Galilee and Nazareth

Important characters

The Angel Gabriel

Gabriel is one of the seven angels who stand in God’s face (Tob 12:15; Lk 1:19). He is a heavenly being and a divine messenger who reveals the eschatological secret (Jn 8:16-26; 9:21-27).Though majestic; he is asked to go to lowly place,

Mary

Unmarried girl with very common name of Mary (etymologically could mean ‘Lady’ of Mar: rather a contract form of Mary probably Egyptian origin meaning ‘beloved’)

Geography

Marginal Galilee

Geographically Galilee is far away from Judah and Jerusalem. On the other hand it is more widely open to the world since it is situated on the natural crossroads between north and south. Historically at the time of northern kingdom it was a land of lively prophetic activity (Elijah, Elisha, Amos and Hosea but it was separated from the main stream of Jewish life after the fall of Samaria to Salmanassar in 722BCE. But under the Maccabees, Galilee was colonized and re-judaised by Jewish settlers. Culturally it was on the meeting point of Hellenizing and urbanizing culture drive of Herod Antipas. The urban hellenization of Galilee is illustrated by excavation of Sepphoris. Herod Antipas made it his capital fortified and adorned it in the Greco Roman style. At the same time, it was a rural counter culture of exploited and dispossessed small peasants. Religious the statements of Rabbis says “Galilee, Galilee! You hate the Torah” and the qualification “they were stupid Galileans” indicates that Galileans are religiously uneducated.

Unknown Nazareth

It was significant agricultural Jewish hamlet not far from major trade route to Egypt, via Maris. It is not mentioned in OT, Josephus or Rabbinic writings. Not surprisingly Jesus’ Nazareth origin are held up to scorn by those skeptical of his mission (Jn 1:46). The village appears to have occupied 40000 sq meters and to have a population of 1600 – 2000 persons in Jesus’ time. No lay out of the village or its houses has been discovered. This shows that God is for the poor and chooses the small. Small is beautiful. Annunciation of Jesus portrays the universal aspect of Jesus coming to the world

Luke 1: 28-30: Greetings and Reactions

Hail Mary

Translation Problem, foot notes of NJB hails (RSV,NRSV, NEB- Greetings; NAB, NJB-  Rejoice) both translations are possible, kaire in Greek means rejoice but is also the usual greeting formula in Greek, in Hebrew- shalom and in Arabic salam. It is unlikely that is scene would open with a trivial good morning, moreover theme of joy is favourite of Luke as a characteristic of messianic community. It is joy of having the Messiah. All the songs express this joy (Benedictus, Magnificat, shepherd songs and Nunc Dimittis).

Full of Grace

John 1: 14- full of grace and truth, this term is purely from Biblical perspective. This phrase is the intervention of God in human history. It is a divine action in human history. Karis = name of God; himself = name of Jesus. Mary rejoices because God has dawned into humanity hence Mary is the representative of whole humanity.

Vv 28-30 is not the invention of Luke but from Old Testament, Zephaniah 3:14-17, Joel 2:21-27, daughter of Zion rejoice. Therefore Mary is seen as a kind of image of the church. For Luke Mary is the daughter of Zion.

Comparison between Luke and Zephaniah

Luke 1:28-31                                                                                                         

Rejoice Lord is in your midst

Don’t be afraid Mary

You shall conceive in your womb

Zephaniah 3:14-17

Rejoice, Daughter of Zion the King of Israel; the Lord is with you

Do not be afraid Zion

The Lord your god is in your midst, a warrior who saves

The Message: Luke 1:31-35

Structure:  two parts vv31-33, fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and v.35 divided by Mary’s question. The first part is made of Old Testament allusions (Is 7: 14; 9:6; Dan 2:44; 7:14). The style is Semitic, Judeo-Christian Messianism.

The second part v.35 is closer to gentile Christology. Messianism is seen in th context of Judeo Christian concept. Jesus is the Messiah, political liberator from Roman oppression. Therefore, Jewish people, gentiles looked to a political liberator. They could not think of a spiritual liberator because of their living context.

Implications:

Mission of Jesus both for Jews and Gentiles is foreshadowed. Jesus as Son of David effects salvation. Jesus as Son of God effects salvation not in the way of human thinking or political liberation but transcending all this.

Question and sign (Lk 1: 34, 36-37)

‘I know’ is to be taken in the Biblical sense of the term. I have no conjugal relation with husband. I am still a virgin not yet married. A vow of virginity is not demanded by text unlikely at that time. The implication is rather that the conception is to take place at once. Luke makes use of the pattern of annunciation story with insertion of question to put across the tradition of Jesus’ virginal birth. The question by Zechariah in Luke 1:18 and the question here by Mary differs in the sense that the function in the sense that Zechariah expresses a doubt which is answered by a sign while in the question of Mary is to bring further explanation on the forth coming Messianic birth in v.35. The sign is given only afterwards by way of confirmation and reward.

Mary’s Response (Luke 1: 38)

Handmaid: As the son of man in Mk 10: 17-22; Lk 22: 25-27; Jn 13; and Phil 2:78. Mary is already the living icon of the community that will follow the master in this attitude of servant.

Let it be done: In Greek not passive but captive. Mary’s response is not passive resignation but wholehearted and inventive adhesion to the creative and saving plan of god’s word, Christian obedience.

Conclusion

The conclusion of this periscope can be made in various backgrounds: Christologically Jesus as Messiah son of David fulfilling the messianic expectations of the Israelites for the liberation and Jesus as Son of God fulfilling the expectations in a way that transcends them by introducing a filial relationship with God offered to all nations. Pneumatologically, the creative spirit of the Book of Genesis is presented in a new way in Infancy narrative by presenting the overshadowing of the Spirit on Mary messianic spirit of prophecy and evangelization as in Is 61:1, Luke 4:18, Acts 1:8. The Creative Spirit in 1Cor 15:45, Gen 1:1 begetting of his double work that is of the mission of the word.  In Missiology it can be said that Luke introduces the two main principles of his double work that is of the mission of the word and the spirit. As the messenger the angel carries the Word of God. The Word is assumed by Mary. Thus, the process of what Luke in the Acts will call the growth of the Word. The process is embodied in Jesus by the power of the spirit; the same Spirit will be the main power at the work in the mission of ht apostles ( Acts 1:8) Like all the rest of the New Testament Luke knows that God and his spirit  the primary agents of the mission. But more than others Luke stresses the human mediation of Jesus and Mary. In Mariology Mary is the image of the church, which continues to carry the word by the power of the spirit. She is the image of the new people of believers who embody. The kenosis of the servant, the power of the spirit at work in the weaknesses of human instruments, the joy of the redeemed community and the embodied New Israel and Christina community etc are reflected in the annunciation of Luke.

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