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To Mary of Nazareth, it may have seemed like the ultimate unplanned pregnancy—but to God, it had been planned before the world began.

God chose a young woman to carry His own Son in her womb from conception through full-term pregnancy. When she gave birth, the event was announced by angels to a group of society’s outcasts. When Jesus grew to manhood, He overcame every temptation, healed the sick and raised the dead, proclaimed good news to the poor and spoke truth to power, and finally died a criminal’s execution.

For our crimes.

The moment He died on that Friday, the curtain that had always symbolized the separation of mankind from God was torn in two, from top to bottom.

By Sunday morning Jesus’ tomb was empty, and hundreds of people saw Him alive over the next forty days. He ascended to heaven, and He is returning soon to destroy evil and to establish on earth His kingdom of perfect justice, perfect health, and perfect relationships.

The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and warns that “the wages of sin is death,” but we are not left hopeless. We are promised that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” receiving “the free gift of God [which] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” and “the right to become children of God.”