The Reading: Luke 1:26-35
“How can this be, since I have no husband?” (v.34) RSV
All the women mentioned over the last six weeks have been not only ancestors of Jesus, but also have had rather alarming if not shocking backgrounds. But now as we come to the last one, the mother of Jesus, surely we have at least one female ancestor who was as pure as the driven snow!
Well, she may have been personally pure, a “virgin” (v.27) and the Lord’s “favoured one” (v.28), but as far as her neighbours were concerned she was a scandal. She was nothing less than a ‘naughty girl’ and an unmarried mother. Of course we know that in law she was betrothed to Joseph before her pregnancy, and that she was married to him before the birth. However, everyone ‘knew’ the real situation, or they thought they knew.
Who would believe that God was the father? “Pull the other one” people would retort. So Mary joins the list of the other unfortunate women who, according to Matthew’s genealogical list, were part of Jesus’ ancestry. That list included Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba as well as Mary (Matthew 1:3-6, 16).
There is no hint that Jesus was ashamed of any of his ancestors. He certainly remained entirely loving and loyal to his mother. However, when he was baptized by John in the River Jordan he was taking the sins of the whole human race, including his personal ancestors with him. The past is redeemable. Whatever has gone before can, through prayer and absolution, be cleansed and brought into the redeeming purposes of God.
In no way was Jesus’ life limited or blighted by his forebears. As he walked through life by the power of the Spirit, so he was free to live a life pleasing to his Father and fruitful for the salvation of individuals and mankind. We too can have that privilege. The curses of the past need not hinder us, for he has set us free. Praise his holy name!
Thank you Lord for my mother (good or bad, alive or dead). May your love and blessing be on her. Amen.
1 To whom did Jesus entrust his mother as he died?
2 Who became more important to Jesus than his human family?
Luke 2:48-51, Mark 3:31-35