Lesson 3: The NEW TESTAMENT and CHRISTMAS
DAY ONE: The barren woman is made glad and the virgin practiced long obedience.
Mary and Elizabeth cannot be separated from each other in the Christmas story. Think of their lives in the following ways:
- The texts of Scripture describe them both as unlikely candidates for pregnancy. Neither could explain why they were “found to be with child” except for God’s grace. Mary had never had sexual intercourse with a man and Elizabeth had been barren her entire marriage to Zechariah.
- Being related to each other (perhaps second cousins, since Mary was only a teenage and Elizabeth could have been as old as 60), their sons would also be distant cousins to each other. John (the Baptist – as he was known) came in the power of Elijah to prepare the way for Jesus, whose life is the antitype of Elisha of the OT.
- Both experience the Holy Spirit’s power in their pregnancies: Mary is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit for conception, Elizabeth’s son leaps for joy at the voice of the Lord’s mother, and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Read the Scriptures that speak of Mary’s life and comment briefly on God’s plan:
- Luke 1: 26-38
- Luke 1: 46-56
- John 19:26, 27
- Acts 1:14
DAY TWO: Mary’s Story
Consider what you learn from Mary ‘s story:
- Who are the significant people in Mary’s life?
- What are the important events, causing her to treasure thoughts and relate to her son? (e.g. Matt. 12:46-50; Luke 2:41-52; John 2:1-12; John 19:23-27)
- What would be her personal hopes and dreams as she prepared for marriage to Joseph?
- How did that all change when she responded to God’s call: “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said.”? (Luke 1:38)
- What do you learn from Mary’s life in the words she prays in “The Magnificat”? (Luke 1:46-55) Comment on Mary’s character as you listen to her prayer.
DAY THREE: Elizabeth’s Story
Read again Luke 1:5-7, 12-17, 36-45, and 56; Luke 7:28 and Mark 6:14-29.
- What is significant about the words Luke uses to describe Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah? (Luke 1:5-7). What tribe do they come from?
- What is significant about the son these two children of Levi, will bear? (Luke 1:12-17)
- What does Elizabeth’s response to Mary reveal about her heart attitude toward the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? (Luke 1:39-45)
- What compelling characteristics set Elizabeth apart as a beautiful vessel to bear the forerunner of Christ? Comment on the lessons you learn from her life of disappointment? Of joy?
DAY FOUR: The widow indeed–Anna of Jerusalem
Anna is not the last woman to carry the message of the coming Christ! Many, following His call to them to follow Him (Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Salome, Joanna, Susannah etc.) stayed with Him through the agony of the cross and the joy of the resurrection and ascension. But Anna is a convincing model of faith in the life of our Lord. Though not biologically related to Him, Anna, a prophetess, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, lives her life waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Read the details of her life carefully in Luke 2:36-38. If she lived with her husband seven years (married around 14 or 15 until she was 21 or 22) and widowed until we meet her (84 years old), she has spoken freely for 60 years to those visiting the temple.
- What is the core of her prophetic ministry? (Luke 1:37, 38)
- What historical events gave her confidence to “give thanks to God” and speak to those waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem?
- For what reasons might she have been disappointed with the events of her life? What had she chosen, instead, to do? What lessons does she teach us about living for God?
- What does James 1:19-27 teach us about caring for women like Anna? (1 Timothy 5:9-16 gives more insight into care for aging widows.)
DAY FIVE: CONCLUSION – The Harmony of Christmas Voices
Like a choir shouting forth glorious, eternal strains of joy, these Ten Women of Christmas lift up our Savior from life stories that are at once stunning and simple! Who could imagine such stories so intimately associated with the Savior’s ancestry, birth and life? They astonish us and show us the glorious grace of God that forces all of us to bow in humble adoration before the great I AM!
This is the real story of Christmas. It stops us in our frenzied activity and cacophony of hyperactivity. It leaves us questioning the value of decorating trees, hanging lights and spending money as our primary celebration of Christmas. It pushes us to simplify our celebration of Christmas and instead, compels us to explore the stories that carry eternal truths that take our breaths away! When we do, we find we have a Savior who:
- willingly associates with the most sinful and disqualified of us all,
- transforms failure to blessing,
- forgives sin,
- gives great hope,
- values surrender to His will above all things and
- gladly receives praise from those who recognize His worth.
Why not kneel down wherever you are in the world, and praise the Savior for His grace to these women and to you as well? We share their fears and love their God – the grand and glorious One who is not ashamed to call us “sisters”!
Used with permission, taken from a Bible Study of the same name, available through www.trinityonline.org
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