December 19

Savior from the Start

[Mary said,] “And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:47

Had there been a crowd of reporters nearby on the night of the angel’s visit to Mary, what might they have asked that favored mother-to-be? “What did Gabriel say? Why were you chosen? Is your child really going to be the Son of God? Is he really going to save us from our sins?” Whatever they might have asked, how might Mary have answered them? What proof did she have that what God had promised through Gabriel was true and trustworthy?

When questions arise about the historical reality of the Savior’s birth, how do we as believers answer them? What evidence do we have? What proof is there that the plan all along was that this child would be the Savior we so desperately needed? Has Jesus’ story been embellished, or is he really the one in whom Mary rejoiced: God, the Savior from sins?

Thanks be to God that he has given us the answer in his Word! Throughout history, God has identified himself as the God who saves. Roughly 700 years before Gabriel’s visit, Isaiah praised God as his salvation, strength, and defense (Isaiah 12:2). Three hundred years before that, King David named him: “God, my Savior” (Psalm 25:5). Five centuries earlier, Moses heard God describe himself as compassionate, gracious, and forgiving (Exodus 34:6). But the earliest instance of God identifying himself as the God who saves occurred in Eden. It is that first proclamation of the gospel, that promise made in a broken Paradise, that answer to the problem that had flooded into the world with Adam and Eve’s fall. There, in the shadow of the tree, as sin’s darkness destroyed his perfect creation, God made a promise to save (Genesis 3:15). Because that is who he is.

Mary’s child was to be the fulfillment of that promise made in the garden, the one who would crush the serpent’s head and make right all that had gone wrong. Mary would give birth to a son, and his name would be Jesus. She knew deep down exactly who he would be.

By God’s grace, so do we. During this Advent season and in response to anyone—reporter or otherwise—who would question who Jesus really is to us and to the world, let us sing out with Mary: “This is my God, my Savior, my Savior from the start.”

Come, Jesus, come, Messiah Lord,
lost Paradise restore;
lead past the angel’s flaming sword—
come, open heaven’s door. Amen.
(CW 304:4)

Rev. Nathan Savage serves Martin Luther College as an instructor and dorm supervisor.