December 23, 1972 will long be remembered as the day of the Immaculate Reception. It is one of the most remembered plays in NFL history. The Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers were embroiled in the AFC divisional playoff game with just thirty seconds left in the game. With the Steelers losing, quarterback Terry Bradshaw launched a pass downfield which ricocheted off a defender into the hands of Pittsburgh fullback, Franco Harris, who ran into the end zone for the winning touchdown. It was viewed as a miraculous catch and thus named The Immaculate Reception.
But if we take a moment to think back we will realize that this is not the first ‘immaculate reception’ in history. The first one happened over two thousand years ago in relation to the birth of Jesus the Christ. One of the accounts of Jesus’ birth can be read in the first and second chapters of Luke, in the Bible. The birth of Jesus is often referred to as the Immaculate Conception. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin who was betrothed, a legal engagement, to a man named Joseph [Luke 1:27]. Mary found herself in the presence of Gabriel, an angel sent from God with a message [Luke 1:26]. The fulfillment of prophecy concerning the coming Messiah was at the heart of Gabriel’s message [Luke 1:32-33]. Gabriel calmed Mary’s fears and announced that she was highly favored and blessed by God [Luke 1:30]. She was confused when he told her that even though she was a virgin she would bear a son [Luke 1:29]. This son was to be the long-awaited Messiah sent from God to save mankind from their sins and to establish a Heavenly Kingdom. Gabriel explained that she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and the power of God would conceive this child. Jesus would be the Son of God [Luke 1:35].
As fantastic as this might have sounded to Mary, she humbled herself to receive this awesome calling and blessing from God [Luke 1:38]. She trusted the message and messenger, choosing to believe the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. Mary publicly rejoiced and praised God for His mighty work and favor in her life [Luke 1:46-55].
Mary received the messenger, she received the message, she received the favor, she received the calling, she received the responsibility, she received the accountability, and she received the miracle of the Messiah. Thus her Immaculate Reception by faith [Luke 1:45] preceded the Immaculate Conception and birth of Jesus [Luke 2:1-20].
We all know that Jesus’ birth is the reason for every season [1 Corinthians 8:6]. Without Him there would be no existence at all, of any kind [Romans 11:36]. He is not only the creator but has eternally existed before creation and is the one responsible for creation [John 1:1-5]. Just as Mary believed and received, we must also exercise the miracle of faith [Ephesians 2:8] in our lives and receive the miracle of the Messiah [Romans 10:13],, thus entering into the Kingdom of God [John 1:12].