Behold! The Virgin

Behold! The Virgin

Behold! The Virgin.

There are some individual words and short phrases in Scripture that need to be highlighted as they are read, words or phrases that are significant or point to something meaningful. Some phrases might be: Fear not. Here I am. Woe to you. One another.   And maybe some words are: AmenHallelujahBlessedAbba. Come.  The word Behold! is one of those significant words, an exclamation that is intended to get our attention. Listen, people, this is something you need to hear! Behold says to the audience, Look at this and take note! You would be wise to remember these words and think about them! Careful now, don’t be deaf to what I am about to say! Stop what you’re doing and listen up! As the Eastern Orthodox Christians say before they read the Gospel in the Liturgy… Attend! The following verse begins with Behold! So the words that follow must be important.

“And the angel Gabriel said to Mary, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, full of grace! The Lord is with you; blessed are you among women. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And Behold! You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a baby boy, a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:28-32).

In the fullness of time, Isaiah’s prophecy became true: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). The angel Gabriel was sent from God’s presence to an unmarried girl, most likely a teenager, who was a virgin. This young lady was named Mary, which means “exalted one.” Mary lived in Nazareth, a little village in the Galilee district of Israel. Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph. Both of them were descendants of King David. In Jewish marriage, a couple becomes betrothed as they commit themselves to a future marriage. Betrothal was a very formal contract and not a mere engagement period that could be easily called off at any moment. Betrothal was a binding commitment to a covenant relationship. Most betrothals lasted one year, and unfaithfulness on the part of the bride during betrothal brought drastic consequences, even death. A pregnancy during betrothal would have been horribly scandalous and deeply shameful. Unless the baby’s father agreed to marry the woman, she would likely remain unmarried for her entire life. And if her father rejected her, she would be removed from her home and she would have to beg or prostitute herself to make a living.

True to the announcement of the angel, Mary indeed was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Holy God. The Spirit fell upon Mary and spread His shadow of power over her, hovering over her like a pure white dove. And this was the deep mystery that resulted in a momentous conception within Mary. Jesus had no human father, but He had a heavenly Father, and so Jesus has been called the Son of God ever since. And Jesus will reign as king of Israel forever, and “of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33). Jesus Christ, fully divine from God, fully human from Mary His mother. The whole of Christianity comes down to this intimate moment of conception between Mary and the Holy Spirit. Do you believe it? Do you believe in this miracle of miracles?