Today is the Fourth Sunday in Advent and in many congregations of our church, the Annunciation will be read as the Gospel lesson. Here is a beautiful quote from one of Martin Luther’s sermons on the Annunciation:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. It is an article of faith that provides unique comfort against the devil, yes, even over against all angels, as is stated in Hebrews 2:16: ‘For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.’ He did not become God and an angel, but God and man. He does not assume the nature of angels, but that of Abraham’s seed, a human being, flesh and blood. That is why he is called Immanuel, God with us; not just because he is around and with us, living among us and helping us. That would be well and good, but he became like us , of our nature. He assumed flesh and blood and bone like us, yet without sin, which is our lot.
“The devil hates to hear this joyful tiding, that our flesh and blood is God’s Son, yes, God himself, who reigns in heaven over everything. Formerly, each Sunday, when we sang Nicea’s confession of faith, formulated at the Council of Nicea, at the word Et homo factus est, that is, “And He became man,” everyone fell to his knees. That was an excellent commendable custom and it would be a good thing for us to still practice this, so that we might thank God from the heart that Christ assumed human nature and bestowed such great and high honor on us, allowing his son to become man. It almost seems as though God is at enmity with the world.
“Present conditions are so shameful all around us in the world, as God allows murderous mobs and rabble, so much violence and so much misfortune to prevail, so that we might think God is only Lord and God of the angels and that he has forgotten about mankind. But here in our text we see that he befriends us humans like no other creatures, in the very closest relationship, and, in turn, we humans have a closer relationship with God than with any creature. Sun and moon are not as close to us as is God, for he comes to us in our own flesh and blood. God not only rules over us, not only lives in us, but personally became a human being. This is the grace which we celebrate today, thanking God that he has cleansed our sinful conception and birth through his holy conception and birth, and removed the curse from us and blessed us. By nature our conception and birth are flawed and laden with sin. In contrast, Christ’s conception and birth were holy and pure. Through his holy conception and birth our sinful nature, flesh, and blood are blessed and made holy. It is on this basis that we are baptized, so that by means of God’s Word, the sacraments, and the Holy Spirit we might have the fruit of his holy conception and birth. May we always thank him for his grace and never become weary or surfeited in hearing and learning this. Unfortunately, most people in the world think they know it all, after they have heard it once.”
Luther’s House Postils
The Day of the Annunciation to Mary
Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, pg. 292-293.