At a time of political oppression, when the Romans dominated the historically obscure town of Nazareth, the more than welcomed annunciation of the long-awaited Messiah, ‘Son of the Most High’, is made to the humble virgin, Mary. It is convincing that this is the annunciation of the birth of the long awaited Messiah because two prerogatives of the Old Testament fulfilment of kingship are fulfilled in it. First, it is made clear that He will be a descendant of David (Luke 1:32) “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,” and secondly, He has been divinely appointed (Luke 1:33) “and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” In essence, a time of rejoicing for the Hebrews had now come, even though the Messiah was not to be a political ruler as would have predictably been their expectation.

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Focusing on the annunciation of the birth of Isaac, the LORD Himself appeared to Abraham twice; first in Genesis 17:1 and again in Genesis 18:1. With regards to the annunciation of the birth of Jesus, an angel of the LORD instead first appears to Mary in Luke 1:26 and later to Joseph in Matthew 1:20. In all instances however, the presence of the LORD was witnessed. Abraham’s immediate response in both instances was falling face down (Genesis 17:3), while Mary’s was terror (Luke 1:29). Aware of His audience’s concern, the LORD is quick to reassure them that His appearance is towards a good outcome as with Mary in Luke 1:30 and Joseph in Matthew 1:20. In (Genesis 17:15), the visionary is made reference to by being given a new name, while in Luke 1:28, 30 the visionary is referred to by her newly acquired position/ status.

A specific name with a unique meaning is to be given to each male child; ‘Isaac’ in Genesis 17:19 and ‘Jesus’ in Matthew 1:20 & Luke 1:31. Isaac, meaning laughter, is the son through whom the LORD would establish His everlasting covenant and through him, would “nations” and “kings of people” (Genesis 17:16) be borne. The name “Jesus”, whose literal meaning is ‘The LORD saves’, was to be given to Mary’s child as He would save “…his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and he would also be their King (Luke 1:32, 33). Though the accomplishments of both children vary greatly, what cannot be ignored is how the purpose of the one child Isaac, from whom ‘kings of people’ would come, brings to fulfilment the purpose of the other Jesus, who came as one such king. Another notable difference is the means of conception; Isaac would be through his human father Abraham, while Jesus, “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) and the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35) would be by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Abraham seemed to object and instead requested that the promise be fulfilled through Ishmael (Genesis 17:18), while Sarah laughed at the possibility of her bearing a child in her old age (Genesis 18:12). Mary, on the other hand, did not doubt, but asked a rather sensible question for a young lady her age as to how this would be possible, given that she was a virgin (Luke 1:34). To reassure Abraham, his sign was to be in the fulfilment of the LORD’s word to him and also a blessing to his other son Ishmael (Genesis 17:20 -21), while to Mary, the pregnancy of her old and formerly barren relative Elizabeth (Luke 1:36, 37). Luke’s narrative did not miss out on a single opportunity to stress that Jesus’ birth was indeed a turning point in history, while Matthew’s seemed to have been somewhat lost in simply empathising with the man Joseph and his cares.

Bearing in mind that Nazareth was home to not only the Hebrews and Romans, but also the Greeks, it would have come as no surprise that Greek mythology fables had already been in circulation long before the birth of Jesus. As such, to many an audience, Luke’s narrative of the birth of the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) by the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) may not have sounded too different from the births of Greek heroes such as ‘Plato’ (son of the god of divine wisdom and bodily health, Apollos) and ‘Alexander the Great’ (son of the god Zeus). It is likely to this audience, that Jesus was perceived as just another supernatural being to be revered by men, not so much the ultimate king of kings that he was, whose “…kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33). Indeed the birth of Jesus was to be no ordinary event; giving him the title “Son of the Most High” directly pointed out the supremacy of his divine father over all gods and kings that may have reigned at the time.

The phrase “Son of the Most High”, literally means he is to be known as “Son of God” by nature and not any other means, as God’s name is “the Most High” (Genesis 14:18). This was stated so as to inform the audience of the status that had always been, preceding creation, not as might have been mistakenly understood to have begun after annunciation. Referring to one as a “Son of God” at the time may have still proved confusing, given that such fables had already been in circulation. Nonetheless, the emphasis on Jesus being the “Son of God” and not the ‘son of a god’ may have brought out a different revelation to a more keen audience.

The phrase that “… his kingdom will never end” directly points us to the Messiah’s resurrection (Luke 24:7) and eternal life. He now lives forever and will therefore have none succeed his throne.

So, the present day’s oppression may not be by Roman Empire, but it is evident that man is presently oppressed by the deception of sin. This is ironically branded under the catchy phrases of ‘civilization’ and ‘liberalization’, yet it is bluntly oppression and a great suppression of the truth. What of having no religious affiliation, the freedom to acquire a new sexual identity and planned parenthood just to name a few? Indeed, the message of the Saviour who would “save his people from their sins”, would still be a welcomed annunciation today, as it was then.