Family Jesse Tree Study – December 22
Welcome to our family Bible study focused on preparing our hearts for Christmas. The Jesse Tree is the family tree of Jesus (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3 for a complete genealogy of Jesus). All along its branches are men and women of God who have incredible stories to share and from which we can glean a deeper understanding of faith and build a stronger relationship with God. God orchestrated these people and stories for a reason — to point us to His Son Jesus who comes to save us once and for all.
For this study, we encourage you to read, reflect, and journal on these scriptures on your own and then find a good time with your family to do this devotion together. Below is the NIV version of today’s reading followed by a devotion, discussion question, and prayer taken from “Jesse Tree Family Devotions” by the Reformed Church in America, then below that is a SOAP journal note from one of our study leaders. For printable ornaments to make your own Jesse Tree, see: http://images.rca.org/docs/discipleship/jessepatterns.pdf. If you’re doing this study with smaller kids, consider using a children’s Bible to share the stories, or use the shorter version of the scripture provided in parentheses. For older kids, consider introducing them to the SOAP method of journaling through this study.
We hope you join us in this study, and please share how it’s going, your favorite Christmas traditions, and prayer requests in the Comments section on our website.
Luke 1:26-38 – Mary
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
God had a special job for someone. God was looking for an earthly home for baby Jesus. Jesus was going to need a mother who loved and trusted God. He would need a mother who was smart and strong and loving. God chose Mary to be Jesus’ mother. God sent an angel to talk to Mary. Mary wasn’t sure that she could be a good mother to Jesus, but the angel reminded Mary that God would be with her. Mary knew that being a mother is a difficult and important job, but she knew that God would guide her. She also knew that she loved God and wanted to do whatever she could to serve him. Mary said yes with a joyful heart.
Talk about some things that have happened to you or others that seem impossible.
Thank You, God, that nothing is impossible with You.
SOAP JOURNAL NOTE
Hesitation and Fear | Becky Newman
Mary is called “blessed” among women (Luke 1:48), but she’s still human. Her reaction to an angel appearing to her is definitely a human response, a leery kind of what do you want from me, even though the angel started with positive and encouraging words. However, this account is also likely from the perspective of Mary looking back at how it began, after Jesus ascended to heaven. It’s thought that Luke directly interviewed Mary before writing his gospel, which is why he includes so many insights from Mary’s perspective. After Mary’s response here, the Holy Spirit comes upon her and, I believe, gives her the peace to accept her role in God’s plan with grace and humility. That role included the risk of being accused of adultery and stoned to death, having a baby in conditions that were not ideal without her family to provide support, losing Jesus when he was 12 (Luke 2:41-50), being concerned for him during his ministry (Mark 6:2-3, Luke 8:19), standing beside him as he died on the cross (John 19:25-27), and experiencing his ascension (Acts 1:12-14). Looking back at when she accepted all this, her response in verse 29 of hesitation and fear is completely understandable. But God gave her the Holy Spirit to help her handle it all and show us a beautiful example, as my Bible notes put it, of entrusting to the next generation the message of God’s faithfulness.
Oh Mary, I can relate! I’ve had this reaction numerous times, but no angels have appeared to me. Maybe my connection with Mary comes from my mom fostering it in me, hoping and praying I’d be born on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but coming a day early on Pearl Harbor Day instead. She still gave me a marion middle name, Marie, despite my rebellious early arrival. But being raised Catholic, I was taught to elevate Mary to a super-human status. I think that’s why verse 29 stood out to me, because her response is how I would have responded, like a regular human. After that, though, I think the Holy Spirit coming upon her is why she gained super-human status. She allowed the Holy Spirit to work in her in pretty amazing ways. The Holy Spirit can also replace hesitation and fear with peace in my life as God asks me to step out in faith.
Lord, give me peace and confidence in following Your way. Help me to take the guidance of the Holy Spirit and not respond as if You weren’t with me. Help me not to limit the Holy Spirit working in my life. Thank You for giving me a guide and helper in the Holy Spirit.
The Discover One Thing main website continues to follow the Life Journal Reading Plan which covers the whole Bible in one year. Click HERE to check out today’s Discover One Thing post.
Posted on December 22, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged Advent, Bible, Bible Study, Christmas, Elizabeth, fear, hesitate, Holy Spirit, Jesse Tree, Jesus, Luke, Mary, peace, plan, pregnant, response, SOAP. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.