I love the above picture as it reminds us that Mary was a young woman when Gabriel appeared to her. How did one so young navigate such a complex situation? For example, how did Mary tell Joseph that she was pregnant? What was that conversation like? These and similar questions remind us that we know little about the circumstances surrounding birth of Jesus Christ. As we study Matthew 1 and Luke 1, let’s consider not only the text, but also what is not said.
Below, I share three ideas for learning and teaching Matthew 1 and Luke 1. First, I share some of of my thoughts on these chapters in a series of short videos. Second, I include links to video clips from “The Chosen” that relate to Matthew 1 and Luke 1 (see here for ideas on teaching with The Chosen). Finally, I share some thoughts on Mary, including a link to The Nativity Story (I would definitely use a clip from this movie when teaching Luke 1 and Matthew 1).
Short Videos on Matthew 1 and Luke 1
Luke 1:26-38, The Annunciation — If I were teaching the Annunciation I would start by saying something like this to the class: “Many years ago, somebody about the age of fourteen had an experience with a divine being and it changed the course of the world. Prophets saw this person in vision centuries in advance; God chose this young person for a special mission. Who am I describing? You might be thinking of Joseph Smith (this does describe him), but I’m actually referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus. At approximately age fourteen, she saw the angel Gabriel, which set in motion the birth of Christ. While we often focus on the fourteen-year-old boy who helped bring about the restoration, we should also celebrate the fourteen-year-old girl who helped bring about the redemption by giving birth to the Savior.” Then I’d have students read the account of The Annunciation and look for phrases that teach us about Mary’s character.
Matthew 1:3-17, The Genealogy of Jesus — If I were teaching Matthew 1, I’d start by asking students about their favorite books. I’d ask them, “What was it about the beginning of the book that drew you in and made you want to read it?” Then I’d have them read the first 5 verses of Matthew 1 and ask them if this intro makes them want to read Matthew’s book (probably not). So why did Matthew write it this way?
The Chosen Videos
Learning more about Mary
Think about Mary when she was fourteen. She had already been visited by an angel and knew she would give birth to the son of God – what did that feel like? Think about Mary becoming pregnant and then going to visit Elisabeth. When Mary returns, did she have a small baby bump? How did people react? What did she feel? Soon she was married and on a journey to Bethlehem. This is incredible, particularly since when I was fourteen I was still struggling to learn my locker combination and other basic life skills! :LOL:
One way that I came to better know Mary was by watching New Line Cinema’s movie, The Nativity Story. It has 1,000+ five-star reviews for many reasons, one of which is that it really portrays the humanity of Mary and helps viewers see the world through her eyes. While there are a couple of violent scenes (can be skipped for younger children), these too are valuable in helping viewers understand the world in which Mary grew up. We see her as a child, playing with friends, forced to grow up as her life circumstances change. While several details are not scriptural, they are reasonable, and provide a picture of what things might have been like. In addition, much of the movie is faithful to scripture.
You can watch “The Nativity Story” on several different streaming platforms. If you’re looking for a short clip to share in a classroom setting, I recommend 41:25-44:25.
One of my favorite books on these chapters is Raymond Brown’s A Coming Christ in Advent. It’s a quick but insightful read, and you might be able to find it at your local library.