A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT
An Unusual Visit
God's people have languished for four hundred years waiting on a word from the Lord. The people are acquainted with the scripture and Messiah, but it must seem like a distant dream or the kind of story parents tell their children to comfort them because nothing has happened for generations. Yet, the fullness of time would reveal the plan of Almighty God. After all those years, the angel Gabriel is sent to a priest named Zechariah to announce that he would have a son who would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. John the Baptist would prepare the way for the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah. Zechariah has spent all his married life childless, and he struggles to believe. Because of his unbelief, he is rendered mute until all was fulfilled. Zechariah's wife conceived as God had promised and in the sixth month of her pregnancy Gabriel was sent from God again to her cousin Mary. Mary is a young girl in Nazareth who is betrothed to a man named Joseph, but not yet married. During this time, betrothal was just as binding as marriage itself. Her husband-to-be belonged to the house of David which is significant. Mary is an ordinary girl from a small village in rural Galilee.
Nothing Is Impossible
Gabriel speaks words go greeting and grace by declaring that the Lord is with her and she is highly favored. Mary is stunned at the sight of this angel and his words trouble her. Gabriel reassures Mary that there is nothing to fear because she has found favor with God. Imagine that; the infinite God knows an ordinary small town girl. Gabriel continues with a divine announcement; God has chosen her in her low estate to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary would conceive, bear a son, and name him Jesus. This King will reign forever, and his kingdom will have no end. Mary asks a natural question, "How?" Mary was a virgin. This question was not a lack of faith; it was a humble submission that was seeking practical answers. This child would not be born through normal means. This son would go through the natural birth process, but he would not have a human father. Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb by the miraculous work of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus would be God and man. Jesus would not inherit sin from an earthly father which made him morally pure and holy. Gabriel reveals the pregnancy of Elizabeth, Mary's older cousin. Imagine Mary's surprise when she learns that her elderly relative is in her sixth month of pregnancy and is carrying a son. Nothing is impossible for God. Mary submits to the Lord as his servant, and she is willing to obey him no matter what the cost. Mary risks everything. Adultery was punishable by death. Mary's family would be publicly shamed in a small town, and she would face the scorn of her community. Mary has great faith, and it is seen by her obedience.
Things To Consider:
- Are you comforted more by a doubting priest or the faith of a small town girl? Why?
- Why does Luke point out that Mary is a virgin so many times?
- Why is the virgin birth essential for us to believe?
- How does one find favor with God?
- Is God asking you to do anything courageous? Are you obeying him? Why?
- Is it okay to ask God questions? Why?
- Do you ask God questions?
- Why did Jesus have to be born without inherited sin?
- Do you see your identity as a servant?
- How does it affect your daily living?