God’s Gift of Himself

Dillon T. ThorntonBy Dillon T. Thornton5 Minutes

I imagine it was a typical Tuesday in Nazareth. In today’s terms, Mary had just finished her 5:30 a.m. WOD at CrossFit. On her way home, she stopped by Starbucks to pick up a Skinny Peppermint Mocha. She had to watch her figure, of course, because she was engaged or betrothed. As strange as it seems to us today, in the ancient world, a girl could be betrothed to a man as early as age twelve. Most biblical scholars believe that Mary was between twelve and fifteen at this time. So picture teenage Mary, whose day is off to a remarkably ordinary start, when suddenly a messenger from God appears.

The angel’s message for Mary is more than bloggable. “Mary,” he says, “you are going to be pregnant … with God.” She must have spilled that Peppermint Mocha all over herself. Mary eventually believes this message and surrenders herself to God’s plan. But her initial reaction is one of inquiry: “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel explains that the Holy Spirit will bring life to Mary’s womb. God the Father planned the birth of Jesus – it occurred by the intervention of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb.

Inside Mary’s body, Jesus became a human being, yet without sin. Jesus did not simply appear to be human; He actually became human. The witness of Scripture is that Jesus was born through all the embryonic processes of the womb. He had real blood running through his veins. He grew in wisdom and stature, experienced hunger and thirst, felt grief and pain, fought temptation. And yet, while the flesh of Jesus is the same as our flesh, He was born not as other men are born, not of the will of an earthly father. As the prophet Isaiah predicted some seven hundred years before, it took place.

The miracle of Jesus’ conception reminds us that we cannot produce our own Savior; salvation is a gift that comes from outside us, “not from humanity’s own inherent possibilities.”

Scripture doesn’t tell us when or how, but sometime after the angel appeared to Mary, Mary informed Joseph that she was pregnant. In Matthew 1:18-25, we learn that, at first, Joseph didn’t believe Mary’s story about an angel and a pregnancy resulting from the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph probably didn’t know Mary very well at this stage. Back then, betrothed couples had very little interaction with each other. Being relatively unacquainted with his betrothed, Joseph had no reason to believe her crazy story. All he heard Mary say was, “I’m pregnant.” Joseph knew that he had not been with Mary. So the only logical conclusion was that his brideto-be had been unfaithful. Joseph was devastated, heartbroken, and it was at this very moment that God sent an angel to corroborate Mary’s story to heal Joseph’s pain.

This is the magnificent thing about the God of the Bible: He cares about all the hurting in the world. He is not a detached deity, a God so overwhelmed by his cosmic chore list that He has no time for his crying children.

The Christian God cares about our pain. He cared enough to enter into our pain-stricken, sin-sick world in order to bring healing. Jesus Christ came to restore the relationship of intimacy that once existed between God and humanity. He is the “one mediator between God and men,” precisely because He is both God and man. In other words, His identity indicates his mission. Jesus, the God-Man, came to bring God to man and man to God.

Excerpt from Give Them Jesus by Dillon T. Thornton, PhD, © 2018, Faithwords, Hatchette Book Group. Used by permission.