“One Who Is Ruler In Israel” (Luke 2: 1, 4 – 5; ESV) by Carley Evans


Close to Mary’s ninth month of pregnancy, Caesar Augustus conducts a world census. “And all go to be registered, each to his own town.” (Luke 2: 3) Because he is of the house of David, Joseph takes Mary from his home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, known as the city of David.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore He shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of His brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth. And He shall be their peace.” (Micah 5: 2 – 5)

While in Bethlehem, Mary goes into labor and gives birth to a son — a son whom Pontius Pilate labels atop a wooden cross: “The King of the Jews.”

“The Prophet Of The Most High” (Luke 1: 76 – 77, ESV) by Carley Evans


Zechariah sings first to God and then to his unborn son. He sings a song first of praise, then of delight. He sings of joy that his own child will be “called the prophet of the Most High,” and predicts his son “will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

John will preach “knowledge of salvation.” He will tell of  “the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78 – 79)

John when he has grown into a man sends two messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus, after healing many, answers: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” (Luke 7: 20, 22 – 23)

Before they leave, Jesus asks John’s messengers, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ I tell you among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7: 24 – 28)

“For God So Loves The World” (Luke 1: 68 – 70, ESV) by Carley Evans


John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah is “filled with the Holy Spirit” as he prophesies that God “has visited and redeemed His people. and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”

Zechariah calls us to praise our God. We are to lift our faces to heaven, and remember how much God loves us, how much He sacrificed for us, how much He intercedes for us, how much He covets us.

God “saves [us] from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; [He] shows the mercy promised to our fathers and [He] remembers His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father, Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” (Luke 1: 71 – 75)

Zechariah calls us to “serve [God] without fear.” How? We serve God without fear because He loves us. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4: 10) “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 17 – 19)

The author of 1 John calls us to live out this love of God in our lives “in this world.” He writes that “as He is so also are we in this world.” We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and call the whole world to Him. We are to ring out the glad tidings, the good news of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, born of a woman from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice. Rejoice. I say it again: Rejoice. For God is come.

“Willing To Obey” (Matthew 1: 20 – 21, ESV) by Carley Evans


Joseph has a dream.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some issues with believing a dream! I view my dreams with great suspicion, always considering them as NOT prophetic.

In Joseph’s case, his betrothed is visited by Gabriel, whose words to her confirm Joseph’s dream. (Luke 1: 26 – 33)

Where two are gathered in [His] Name, there He is also. (Matthew 18: 20)

Gabriel, who is the angel of the Lord, refers to the prophet Isaiah, who writes: “Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel.” (Matthew 1: 23)

Gabriel tells Joseph to name his son Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 21)

Like Mary before him, Joseph believes. I do think he confirms this dream with Mary, speaking with her later, hearing her report of Gabriel’s visit and the angel’s words to her. Gabriel’s visit to Mary comes before she “is found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1: 18) Gabriel tells her beforehand not to be afraid, that the Holy Spirit will come upon her, overshadow her and give her the baby who is Jesus. She keeps this to herself, sharing it later with Elizabeth. I see her not sharing it with Joseph, perhaps out of fear. After all, she knows she may be stoned to death, outside the city gate. But when Joseph finds Mary pregnant, he is just and decides “to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1: 19) He is kind and does not want Mary to die. Perhaps he also does not want her unborn child to die.

When Gabriel tells Joseph to take Mary to be his wife, Joseph confirms the dream with Mary. All that Mary has stored in her heart now comes out. I imagine her relief and her thrill to find that Joseph is also a faithful servant of God; that he also is willing to obey.

“Of Humble Estate” (Luke 1: 46 – 49; ESV) by Carley Evans


Mary says, “He who is mighty has done great things for me.” She gives God the credit and the glory.
She acknowledges that He is holy. She acknowledges her “humble estate” and that she is “His servant.”

Mary also knows that “from now on all generations will call [her] blessed.” In this statement of fact, she is not boasting. She simply acknowledges that “[God] has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.” (Luke 1: 51 – 52)

Mary sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise His Name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre! For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149: 1 – 4)

“You Have Found Favor With God” (Luke 1: 30 – 33, ESV) by Carley Evans


“For you have found favor with God,” are the words which come to Mary from Gabriel.

Here’s the rub — was Mary worthy to carry our Lord? Was there something innate in her which made her the only woman ever born who might carry the Christ? Not necessarily so. Mary finds favor with God. God chooses to bless Mary; and Mary believes and accepts the blessing. Mary has done nothing that we know of which qualifies her to carry Jesus except that she is betrothed to Joseph, a man from the house of David and that she is a virgin and that she lives in Nazareth.

Mary is not sinless. She is not born free of sin. However, Mary is the first Christian. She accepts her son as the Son of God and as her Messiah when Gabriel speaks to her. She accepts that she is to name her child Jesus and that He “will be called holy.” She does not fully comprehend all that is to be, but she gives herself to Her son before He is born. (Luke 1: 35)

When Mary greets Elizabeth, “the baby leaps in her womb. And Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1: 41) Elizabeth shouts “with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1: 42, 45)

God’s sovereign blessing and Mary’s belief are what qualify her to carry Christ.

“Beyond Mary’s Imagination” (Luke 1: 26 – 28, ESV) by Carley Evans


Elizabeth is in her sixth month of pregnancy when the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to tell her that she is favored to be the mother of God.

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” is the only question Mary asks of Gabriel. (Luke 1: 34)

Gabriel’s response is simple, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1: 37)

Mary says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38)

In this exchange, Mary shows herself to be completely trusting of her God. What Gabriel has told her is impossible by any stretch of the imagination. She does not ask how “the Holy Spirit will come upon” her or how “the power of the Most High will overshadow” her. (Luke 1: 35) She does not question that her son “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1: 32) She does not protest when Gabriel tells her that Elizabeth, who is old and thought barren, will also have a son and that she is already in her sixth month.

Mary simply accepts, even though she is troubled at first when Gabriel calls her “O favored one.” (Luke 1: 28) The greeting is meaningless to her initially, and only frightens her. Gabriel reassures Mary, telling her that she should not be afraid, that she “has found favor with God.” (Luke 1: 30)

Mary’s response is an acknowledgment that she is God’s servant, that He has favored her. She recognizes that God has chosen her for an unfathomable task — she is to carry God’s Son and name Him Jesus. Mary knows very little at this point except that she will obey.

“A Sower Goes Out” (Matthew 13: 3, ESV) by Carley Evans


“A sower went out to sow,” says Jesus.

The sower throws seed here and there, not knowing the state of the ground, not even knowing the location of each seed he tosses. He keeps sowing seeds. He isn’t carrying a hoe with him; he only has a sack filled with seeds. While sowing seeds, this sower worries not about the path, the birds, the rocky ground, the lack of soil, the sun, the thorns, or even the goodness of the soil. He is only sowing the seeds.

The sower keeps moving; he keeps sowing the seed.

“He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13: 9)

“Other seeds fall on good soil and produce grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13: 8)

“A sower went out to sow.”

“Wise And Foolish Men” (Matthew 2: 4 – 6, ESV) by Carley Evans


Herod the king hears that wise men from the east are searching for the one “who has been born king of the Jews.” These men have traveled to Jerusalem, saying: “for we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” worry. (Matthew 2: 2, 3)

Herod brings together “all the chief priests and scribes of the people” and asks “where the Christ was to be born.” (Matthew 2: 3) Oddly enough, the chief priests and scribes correctly identify the Messiah’s birthplace as Bethlehem.

In fear for his throne, Herod secretly meets with the wise men and instructs them to find the Christ child in Bethlehem. He lies, saying that he wants to worship the Messiah, too. The wise men set out; the star appears and “goes before them until it comes to rest over the place where the child is.” (Matthew 2: 9) They come to the house where Jesus is with His mother Mary. The wise men fall down and worship the Christ child. A dream warns them not to return to Herod, and they obey. Each returns to his own country.

Joseph is then also warned in a dream by an angel of the Lord, who tells him to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt. Joseph obeys.

“Then Herod, when he sees that he has been tricked by the wise men, becomes furious.” (Matthew 2: 16) He kills all the male children in Bethlehem and surrounding region who are two years or younger “according to the time he has ascertained from the wise men” and their report of the star’s appearance.

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, for they are no more.” (Matthew 2: 18)

When Herod dies, Joseph obeys the angel of the Lord again, settling his family in Nazareth of Galilee. “He [the Messiah] shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2: 23)

“The Children Of Sarah” (Galatians 4: 4 – 5, ESV) by Carley Evans


Are we under law?

“Before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” (Galatians 3: 23) Being under the law, we “were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.” (Galatians 4: 3)

But,”now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian;” (Galatians 3: 25) we are no longer under the law because “God sent His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4: 4 – 5) As adopted children of God, we are brothers and sisters of Jesus, His only begotten Son.

Therefore, we are not the children of Hagar, but are the children of Sarah.

As such, we are not under law. We live by faith alone.