Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Thinking Reverently about the Virgin Birth

"And Mary said to the angel,  “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born  will be called  holy—the Son of God."  Luke 1:34-35
"Let us mark, in these verses, the reverent and discreet manner in which the angel Gabriel speaks of the great mystery of Christ's incarnation.   In reply to the question of the Virgin  "How shall this be?" he uses these remarkable words--"The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you."
 We shall do well to follow the example of the angel in all our reflections on this deep subject.   Let us ever regard it with holy reverence, and abstain from those improper and unprofitable speculations upon it, in which some have unhappily indulged.   Enough for us to know that  "the Word was made flesh," and that when the Son of God came into the world, a real  "body was prepared for Him," so that He "took part of our flesh and blood," and was  "made of a woman."  (John 1:14; Heb.10:5; Heb. 2:14; Gal. 4:4.)    Here we must stop.    

The manner in which all this was effected is wisely hidden from us.   If we attempt to pry beyond this point, we shall but darken counsel by words without knowledge, and rush in where angels fear to tread.    In a religion which really comes down from heaven there must needs be mysteries.    Of such mysteries in Christianity, the incarnation is one."  - J.C. Ryle

The Gospel of Luke;  Chapter 1;  J.C.Ryle; 1858
Painting:  "Annunciation" - Henry Ossawa Tanner -1898; The Philadelphia Museum of Art


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great quote from Ryle, Diane. In an effort to try to get a handle on God, it is easy to go beyond what Scripture says and "darken counsel by words without knowledge." I heard a speaker say recently "I would rather have mystery than theologically repugnant doctrines." I think he is right.

    BTW, we saw this painting in person last Christmas. IMO it captures Mary's youth, fear, and astonishment so beautifully. Also Gabriel seems to be depicted more in keeping with the Bible - no chubby baby with wings.

    (Deleted previous comment to correct typos.)

    1. That's awesome Persis. Merry Christmas!