The circumcision of Jesus (Lk 2:21-2:21)

“After eight days

Had passed,

It was time

To circumcise

The child.

He was called

Jesus.

This was the name

Given to him

By the angel

Before he was conceived

In the womb.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν, καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦς, τὸ κληθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου πρὸ τοῦ συλλημφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ.

 

Just as Luke had the circumcision and naming of John, so too he has the circumcision and naming of Jesus, his cousin.  Like John, it takes place on the 8th day after the birth in chapter 1:59.  So too, just like John, chapter 1:63, Jesus got his name at his circumcision.  Luke said that after eight days had been completed (Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ), it was time to circumcise the child (τοῦ περιτεμεῖν αὐτόν).  He was called Jesus (καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦς), the name given to him by the angel Gabriel (τὸ κληθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου) before Mary conceived him in the womb (πρὸ τοῦ συλλημφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ) in chapter 1:31.  Luke continued these parallel stories of John and Jesus.  Both families clearly followed all the Jewish laws and customs about circumcision and naming a child, but John and Jesus were nevertheless special children.

The slave of the Lord (Lk 1:38-1:38)

“Then Mary said.

‘Here am I!

The slave

Of the Lord!

Let it be

With me

According to your word!’

Then the angel

Departed from her.”

 

εἶπεν δὲ Μαριάμ Ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη Κυρίου· γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτῆς ὁ ἄγγελος.

 

Luke brought this conversation between the Angel Gabriel and Mary to a close.  She fully agreed with the plan, so the angel left.  Luke indicated that Mary said (εἶπεν δὲ Μαριάμ) that she was a slave of the Lord (Ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη Κυρίου).  Most translations prefer the softer “servant” or “handmaid” rather than “slave,” but the Greek word “ἡ δούλη” indicates a female slave.  Mary wanted everything to be done to her just as the angel of God had said (γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου).  With that, the Angel Gabriel flew off or left her (καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτῆς ὁ ἄγγελος), because he had accomplished his mission.  The stage was set for the birth of John and Jesus.

The child of Elizabeth (Lk 1:36-1:37)

“Now,

Your relative

Elizabeth

Has also conceived

A son,

In her old age.

This is the sixth month

For her

Who was said

To be barren.

Nothing is impossible

With God.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς, καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ·

ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα

 

Next Luke made the connection between the upcoming birth of Jesus and that of John.  Elizabeth, although older, was a relative of Mary.  She could have been an aunt of a second cousin.  Their age differences would not make them first cousins.  Besides, they lived in different areas, Galilee and Judea.  Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron, but there was no such claim for Mary.  Was this an attempt to link Mary to the Levitical priesthood via her Levitical relative?  Perhaps Luke wanted to show a closer relationship between John and Jesus.  Luke indicated that the Angel Gabriel told Mary about his previous mission to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  He told Mary that her relative Elizabeth (καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλεισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου) had also conceived a son (καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν), in her old age (ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς).  She was, in fact, already six months pregnant (καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ).  Elizabeth had been called barren or sterile (τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ).  The Angel Gabriel concluded that nothing was impossible with God (ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ πᾶν ῥῆμα).  He could overcome old age and virginity to produce a son, just like Sarah in Genesis, chapter 18:14.  Now the plan of God was clear to Mary.  She had no reason to fear anything.

The Holy Spirit and the Son of God (Lk 1:35-1:35)

“The angel

Said to her.

‘The Holy Spirit

Will come upon you.

The power

Of the Most High

Will overshadow you.

Therefore,

The child to be born

Will be holy.

He will be called

The Son of God.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ.

 

Luke then has the Angel Gabriel reveal the whole plan.  Just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, the angel told Joseph that the child conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit.  Luke did the same here.  This Angel Gabriel answered Mary (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ).  He said that the Holy Spirit would come over her (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ).  The power of the Most High God would overshadow or envelop her (καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι).  Her child would come forth or be born holy (διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον).  He would be called the Son of God (κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ).  This was a very theological statement uttered by the Angel Gabriel.  This child, Jesus would come about because of the Holy Spirit.  Elohim, the most high God, would overshadow her, the way that Yahweh had overshadowed the tent of dwelling with the covenant in Exodus, chapter 37:1-9.  This presence of God in Mary would make her pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The unique act of Jesus’ conception was a fully Trinitarian action involving the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit within the womb of Mary.  Obviously, the Son, her son, Jesus, would be born as a holy human person, clearly and rightfully called the Son of God.  This was a very developed theology of Luke, who always stressed the role of the Holy Spirit in his writings.

Mary questions the angel (Lk 1:34-1:34)

“Mary

Said to the angel.

‘How can this be?

As I am a virgin.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ Μαριὰμ πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον Πῶς ἔσται τοῦτο, ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω;

 

According to Luke, Mary was a little put off.  She asked this Angel Gabriel (εἶπεν δὲ Μαριὰμ πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον) how was all this going to happen, since she had not known any man sexually as a virgin (Πῶς ἔσται τοῦτο, ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω)?  Was she questioning or confused?  She was concerned about what was going to happen next.

The throne of David (Lk 1:32-1:32)

“Jesus

Will be great.

He will be called

The Son

Of the Most High.

The Lord God

Will give him

The throne

Of his ancestor

David.”

 

οὗτος ἔσται μέγας καὶ Υἱὸς Ὑψίστου κληθήσεται, καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τὸν θρόνον Δαυεὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

Now comes the kicker.  This child Jesus would be special, really special.  Luke said that the Angel Gabriel told Mary that her child Jesus would be great (οὗτος ἔσται μέγας).  He would be called the Son of the Most High (καὶ Υἱὸς Ὑψίστου κληθήσεται).  The Lord God (Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς) will give him (καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ) the throne of his ancestor David (τὸν θρόνον Δαυεὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ).  This Most High indicated Elohim, one the Hebrew titles for God.  Jesus would have the Davidic throne because Joseph was a descendant of David.  This was really great news.

Mary will conceive and bear a son named Jesus (Lk 1:31-1:31)

“Now,

You will conceive

In your womb.

You will bear a son.

You will name him

Jesus.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ συλλήμψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν.

 

Luke has the angel Gabriel reveal his message to Mary.  She was going to conceive in her womb (καὶ ἰδοὺ συλλήμψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ).  She was going to bring forth and produce a son (καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν).  She was to call him with the name Jesus (καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν).  That seems like a simple message.  Mary would conceive and bear a son named Jesus.  The name Jesus means “Yahweh saves”, quite fitting.  The Hebrew name would have been Joshua.