Luke 1: 31—33:
The angel said to Mary:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of this father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
So now, the word. The very first word of the herald from heaven, announcing the child to come.
Who is he? What sort of hero approaches? What is this Mercy soon to be born among us?
Why, he shall be a king! He shall be the king whom God had promised a thousand years earlier to David—not only a like David, but a king to fulfill all that David represented. For David was a king bounded by time and space. His reign existed within the history of humankind. But this King shall gather time and space into his kingdom, and shall himself embrace the history of humankind, for of his kingdom “there will be no end.”
David was anointed a son of God. David was adopted: “He said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you’ ” (Psalm 2:7). But this one will be born “Son of the Most High.”
Read the dialogue that the first King David had with God in 2 Samuel 7: 8—16. After he had built himself a house of cedar, David desired to build a house for the dwelling of the Lord. But God denied him that desire. What even the best of humans could produce was too confining for God. It never was what we could accomplish that established a lasting relationship with God, but what God himself promises to accomplish for us. Therefore, to the golden king, that most glorious ruler of the Old Testament, God promised a New Testament.
David said, “I want to make you a house.”
And God responded with heavenly hilarity, a pun: “No, but I will make you a house” (v. 11). David was himself to become a lasting household, for the Lord said, “When you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you . . . and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.”
In the short view, God was looking at the physical child of David, Solomon.
But in the eternal view, God was looking at the son of Mary, the only begotten “Son of the Most High.” And here is the deeper meaning of the angel’s words: Messiah is coming. In Messiah shall the house of God be built (wherein, with God, we all may dwell eternally). In Messiah shall goodness finally arise to rule the world. In Messiah shall we find a place of peace; for “I will appoint a place for my people Israel,” said the Lord (v. 10). “I will plant them that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. Violent people shall afflict them no more . . . and I will give you rest from all your enemies.”
This is he who is to come; this is the hero: Jesus.
“You shall call his name Jesus.”
Jesus. He is our mercy. Jesus. Jesus.
Name of wondrous love, name all other names above,
Unto which must every knee bow n deep humility.
Name decreed of old to the maiden mother told—
Kneeling in her lowly cell—by the angel Gabriel.
Name of priceless worth to the children of the earth
For the promise that it gave, “Jesus shall his people save.”
Name of wondrous love, human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we flee, helpless, O our God, to Thee.
(Words by William W. How, 19th century)