You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus (Luke 1:31 NLT).
God enjoys working through his creatures to accomplish his purposes. In doing this, he makes us part of the story of his glory. In this section, we see two of his creatures. The first mentioned is Gabriel, one of the holy angels or messengers. God sent him with a special announcement to the second, Mary, who was a descendant of King David. A thousand years had passed since God made a promise to David. The time had arrived to fulfill that promise. God waits long years, because he desires the salvation of many people.
Gabriel came with a joyful greeting to Mary (1:28). Mary was highly favored, which Gabriel would shortly explain. He assured her that the Lord was with her. Mary knew the Scriptures, and this phrase would not only tell her of God’s presence, but also that good things were about to happen (cf. Genesis 39:2; Joshua 1:5; Judges 6:12). What was about to happen? How did Mary respond to the Lord’s message to her?
God gave Mary clear information, so that she could trust him concerning what he would do in her life.
- Gabriel told her not to fear. Instead, she was in a special position before God. Peace is the great word that describes our relationship to God (Romans 5:1). Mary needed assurance that God was pleased with her.
- She learned her mission: to give birth to the Son of the Most High God (1:31-32). This set Mary thinking, because she would enter something unique in human history. A woman would bear God’s Son. The promised Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) would come through her. (By the way, the “seed” concept is an important theme in the Scriptures.)
- She learned something of her son’s mission. His name, Jesus, spoke of what he would do (save). And she was told that he would rule on David’s throne forever. Luke will show how this part of the message was fulfilled in Acts 2:29-36.
- Gabriel told her that all this would happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary would become pregnant by the power of God, not by normal human means. Again, Luke teaches that history had entered a new age, the age of the Spirit of God. Great changes were on the way.
- Notice the happy word that Gabriel concluded with: For nothing is impossible with God (NIV).
Mary had to respond as the message was “unfolded” to her. With each part, she had to act with faith in God, who spoke to her through Gabriel.
- She was troubled about the sudden appearance of an angelic visitor. Angels did not usually reveal their presence to people in Biblical times, though it might seem that way to us. Hundreds of years might pass before anyone saw an angel. She also was concerned about the greeting. Was she the first woman to hear that the Lord was with her?
- Mary wondered how she could conceive. She was a virgin and a godly woman. She was engaged, but not yet married. She was sexually moral. Was this promise come true after she was married? Unlike Zechariah, she did not doubt, though they used similar words. She simply didn’t understand how a virgin could have a child. Mary needed information. Observe that we need to discern why people ask questions. Some may be doubters, but others merely need to know.
- When Mary had heard an explanation, she responded with humble faith. She gladly accepted what the Lord had for her to do to serve him.
The Lord called Mary to do something unique in human history. She was a humble, believing believer. May we imitate her kind of faith!
Grace and peace, David