This week’s lesson will be the start of the winter quarter of lessons.  This quarter of lessons are titled, “Triumph”.  The first unit of lessons for this month is titled “Jesus’ Triumphant Arrival”.  Something that we are going to see happening in this unit of lessons is that each lesson will start with what we will call a flashback, and then finish with a jump forward in time.  I will explain this further as we get into this week’s lesson.  This week’s lesson is being taught from two different books in the bible:  Matthew 1:18-21; John 12:1-8.

Birth of Christ

As I mentioned in the introduction, our lessons for this month are going to essentially be a flashback and then we will move forward in time.  This week’s lesson opens up with a flashback that tells of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Conceived through the Holy Spirit

We are told, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18).”  Something that I always feel is important for us to point out when it comes to the birth of Christ is the conception of Christ.  As we know, Christ is divine – He is the only begotten Son of God.  Jesus was born of a virgin.

Now, this point is always a stumbling block for those that are of no faith and like to poke holes into the birth of Christ.  There are many people that can’t quite understand how Jesus can be the only begotten Son of God.  Firstly, Jesus was not conceived naturally like how you and I were conceived in our mother’s womb.  Scripture repeatedly tells us that the conception of Christ was through the Holy Spirit.

In this verse, we are specifically told that Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  When Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would give birth to the Messiah, he specifically stated to Mary,  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).”

So, to be clear, Joseph was not involved in the conception of Christ.  There was no angel and there was definitely no demon that had intercourse with Mary for Christ to be conceived in her womb.  God also did not have intercourse with Mary for Christ to be conceived in her womb.  The Holy Spirit of God moved upon Mary and Christ was then conceived in her womb.  We should not think there was anything else involved in the conception of Christ when scripture repeatedly makes it clear how Christ was born.

Joseph’s sorrow

To make it even more clear that Joseph was not involved in the conception of Christ, scripture also tells the story of Joseph wanting to separate from Mary.  We see it here in our lesson this week that Joseph wanted to separate from her privately.  The reason why Joseph wanted to separate from Mary is because she was pregnant prior to their wedding and he had nothing to do with her pregnancy.  Joseph thought that Mary was pregnant through another man, but the angel came to Joseph and told him otherwise (Matt. 18:19-21).

With our lesson being titled “Sorrow Before Triumph”, I believe that we see a bit of sorrow in Joseph before triumph in the birth of Christ.  The sorrow, sadness, of Joseph is that he was ready to separate from Mary.  From a worldly perspective, I believe most of us can understand Joseph’s mindset.  Yet, the birth of Christ is truly a triumph for the world.  Imagine how Joseph must have felt once the angel came and told him who Mary was going to bring into the world!  It must have been a feeling of great joy.

Jesus’ Preparation for Victory

At this point in our lesson, we move forward to a point in time just prior to the death of Christ.  I love the juxtaposition that is created in our lesson by taking a look at the triumph through the birth of Christ and triumph through the death of Christ.  Victory came when Jesus was born into the world and triumph came when Jesus died on the cross.  Jesus was born into the world for the intent of becoming our propitiation – the atonement offering for our sins (Heb. 2:17).

We are shown in John 12, six days before the feast of Passover, that Jesus came to Bethany for a feast at the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.  This is the same Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead, and Mary and Martha whom Jesus comforted prior to raising their brother from the dead (John 12:1-2).

Mary anoints Jesus

At this gathering, Lazarus sat at the table to eat with Jesus, while Martha served supper.  Mary, as I have discussed in the past, seemed to neglect ever helping Martha serve when Jesus would come to visit.  Mary would sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to the things He taught.  On this occasion, we are told that Mary came with a pound of very costly oil of spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus (John 12:3).

So, why did Mary anoint Jesus’ feet at this occasion?  Jesus gives us the answer to this question.  Judas Iscariot was not pleased with Mary anointing the feet of Jesus.  He questions why she was wasting the ointment when it could have been sold for three hundred denarii (John 12:4-5).  

Noted is that Judas tries to cover up his displeasure by saying that the money could be given to the poor (John 12:6).   Judas Iscariot was a man who loved money more than he did Christ.  After all, Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16).  We will see that John, a man who knew Judas Iscariot personally, called him a thief.  Judas was so consumed with having money that Judas would steal from the money that they would collect.

Mary’s sorrow

Again, we see another juxtaposition here between Mary, a woman of genuine faith, and Judas Iscariot, a man that betrayed Christ and was a sinner.  Jesus tells Judas to leave her alone because she had kept the ointment for the day of His burial (John 12:7).

Well, clearly Jesus was not dead so someone may ask why she was already anointing Jesus’ feet with oil?  My answer to this question is that I believe Mary had clearly known the day of Jesus leaving the world was coming.  I say this because, again, Mary was always at the feet of Jesus and listening to His every word.  

As recorded in scripture, Jesus had predicted His death on quite a few occasions.  Jesus specifically told Mary’s sister, Martha, that He is the resurrection (John 11:25-27).  Now, I don’t believe Martha listened to Christ as often as Mary did, but both of the sisters were well aware that Christ would die.

I believe that Mary was filled with sorrow as to what awaited Jesus in Jerusalem.  I say this because when Jesus told the disciples that He was going to Judea to visit Lazarus, they tried to keep Him from going because the Jews had been seeking to kill Him (John 11:7-16).  The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead and this was not something that was hidden from people that were close to Jesus.  

People like Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were very close to Jesus and so Mary was very aware of what could happen to Jesus in Jerusalem.  So, Mary was sorrowful about the potential of Jesus’ death and she chose to anoint Him.  Iscariot, a close disciple, on the other hand, was more concerned about the money – what a juxtaposition this was!  Mary was sorrowful about Jesus’ approaching death, but again, Jesus’ death would lead to our triumph over sin.


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