It would not be enough that the pure body which Jesus must use should come from an ordinary "good" family of unevolved nature. Clean, moral living was essential, but there would have to be more -- they would have to be pure of soul, sufficiently evolved in spiritual consciousness to prepare a perfect vehicle.
In Eastern countries it had not much mattered who a man's mother was, for genealogies were reckoned by the father who might have wives for the purpose of bearing him children.
But with the coming of Jesus, the tables were turned. The male line of descent was by-passed, and the whole privilege given to a woman. Neither was this line passed down in a physical way, for Jesus died without progeny. But he has fathered in Spirit the millions who love him, and who fully accept him.
His birth, which brought salvation to man through grace rather than works, was heralded by certain persons whose very names meant "grace." The strong, noble Anna, mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, bore a name which meant "gracious." "John," the Baptist who smoothed a path before him, meant "God's gracious gift."
The John's and Anna's of this world, symbolically speaking, seem to be those who ferry across the river those souls who have reached the point where they are ready to "die" out of the materialistic way of life and into the spiritual -- even though they outwardly continue to dwell as always upon the earth. John merely dipped such persons in the river instead of carrying them across, to wash away the crust of their outer sins and make them ready for Jesus so he could purify them from within.
There is an archangel of the planet Venus, named Anael, or Haniel, whose name also means "Grace of God," and he works through the love-aspect to bring divine Grace unto man upon the purification of his desire nature. When man finds himself not satisfied by the gratification of bodily wishes, and his soul begins to seek and desire God more earnestly than all else, then comes the time of receiving Grace through the reciprocal love of God who reaches down to offer man his unearned chance, because he has now repented of former ways. The work of Anael is said also to be the preparation for desired gifts.
Gabriel, archangel of the Moon and the element Water, means "Strength of God." He is the angel of the automatic consciousness, and of the Life-Power's manifestation in all the processes of reproduction. This signifies strength as the virile or procreative force of God. In the Bible, Gabriel usually had the function of bringing special revelation.
The descriptions of his appearance are sparse, and are described thus: He appeared to the prophet Daniel as a man. (Daniel 8:15). "Suddenly I saw standing before me one with the semblance of a man. At the same time I heard a human voice calling to him across the bend of the Ulai, 'Gabriel, explain the vision to this man.' . . . When he spoke to me, I fell to the ground in a trance but he grasped me and made me stand up where I was. And he said, 'I shall make known to you what is to happen.' "
Again in Daniel 9:21: "While I was praying the man Gabriel, whom I had already seen in the vision, came close to me at the hour of the evening sacrifice, flying swiftly. He spoke to me clearly and said, 'Daniel, I have come to enlighten your under- standing.' . . . "
In Luke 1:19 and 26, the angel was again mentioned, but giving no personal description: To Zacharias he said, "I am Gabriel; I stand in attendance upon God, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news." Later he spoke to Mary, but not concerning himself.
There seems to be a mystical tie between Jesus and John the Baptist. Their lives are entertwined, and their ages only six months apart -- one born at the winter and the other at the summer solstice -- as well as being distantly related through their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth.
John was born of the Levite or orthodox priestly clan, while Jesus was born of the clan of David which had been anointed to the royal throne. Was it the Levitical priesthood and the former covenant that John the Baptist would refer to later on when he said, "My joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
This is indeed a gracious statement, and one can readily believe Jesus' declaration that there is none born of woman greater than John the Baptist.
The two souls stood on the inner planes awaiting birth together, playing different parts in the same drama like actors in the wings about to step out upon a stage. Is it any wonder the unborn John leapt in recognition within his mother's womb at the approach of him he had come purposely to witness and proclaim?
John's father was a priest of the hereditary Levitical priesthood, and his wife Elizabeth was also a Levite. They were old and childless after many years of marriage, but "blameless" and "righteous before God."
The priests of those days were divided into twenty-four groups, each of which served a turn of one week in the Temple at Jerusalem, twice each year. The priests themselves were trained in the sacrificial ritual, who by offering of incense and the blood of animals sought to secure the favor and forgiveness of God for themselves and their communities.
It had come the turn of Zacharias' group to serve that week at Jerusalem, and when they drew lots to see who would offer up the incense at the customary hour of incense, this duty fell to Zacharias. He entered the Temple of the Lord to perform his service, while a multitude of people prayed outside. Zacharias stayed so long inside that the people began to wonder, and when he finally emerged, he had been stricken dumb by what occurred inside.
For standing by the altar of incense was the Archangel Gabriel who told him that his prayers had been heard and he and his wife Elizabeth would bear a son who should be called John, and who would be great before the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, and who would prepare the people for their Lord.
Zacharias said, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
Gabriel answered, "I am Gabriel, who stand in attendance on God. And I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news." But, he added that because Zacharias had not believed him, he would lose the power of speech until the child should be born.
He did indeed remain speechless on emerging from the Temple, and could only make signs to the people signifying he had had a vision. When his period of duty was completed Zacharias returned home to his wife. Elizabeth soon after conceived and lived in seclusion for five months, rejoicing that the Lord had taken away her "reproach among men."
Their neighbors rejoiced with them over the news, and when the child was finally born, on the eighth day he was circumcised according to the law. They were going to name him Zacharias after his father, who was still speechless, but Elizabeth said, "No, he is to be called John."
They were surprised, answering, "But there is no one in your family of that name." They looked to Zacharias questioning what he would like the child called. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote down, "His name is John." And his mouth was opened immediately, and he was able to speak -- praising God.
The neighbors were astonished, and the story became common talk around the hill country of Judea, where they lived. They asked, "What will this child become?" For indeed the hand of the Lord was on him.
Zacharias the father was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied that John should be instrumental in fulfilling the promise of the ages, that he should be called Prophet of the Highest, and the Lord's forerunner, to prepare His way, and to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins. You will find all the words of his prophecy in the first chapter of St. Luke.
After this the child grew and became strong in spirit, living out in the wilds until the days of his public work.
Now, John the harbinger had appeared, and the advent of the savior was near. The great rulers of the world knew nothing of the herald of the Messiah nor the manner in which he would come -- for the plan of God did not coincide with the ways of the world. But in His all-knowingness, God promised that the world would be at peace, and so it was in the reign of Augustus Caesar in that time, 8 B.C. and this peace was not disturbed until around 9 A.D., some years after Jesus' birth.