First Sunday After Christmas Day/New Year's Eve


December 31, 2023 A Martin Luther Christmas: The Stable’s Humble Exaltation

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” —Luke 1:26

The famous Protestant Reformer Martin Luther often preached about the Virgin Mary at Christmastime. When Luther considered how we should receive the Christ of Christmas, he pointed to Mary’s humble faith as the example for all believers.

It is doubtful whether the angel Gabriel could have found a more unlikely person anywhere in Israel. Mary was among the lowliest of the low—a poor young peasant girl living far from the center of power. Yet Mary was chosen to be the earthly mother of Jesus, and her material poverty was part of God’s plan.

Luther observed that God might well have “gone to Jerusalem and picked out Caiaphas’s daughter, who was fair, rich, clad in gold…and attended by a retinue of maids in waiting.” 1

Instead, God chose a rustic maiden from Galilee. And when it came time for her child to be born, evidently, God preferred the simple context of the stable in Bethlehem. The plan of salvation required his Son to humble himself, and only then to be exalted. What better way to show what Jesus had come to do than to be born of a woman as humble as Mary?

1 Martin Luther, quoted in Roland Bainton, The Martin Luther Christmas Book (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1948), 22.

Reflection: How can you make the best use of the time the Lord has given you?

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