Understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ; Chapter 2 – The Birth and Childhood of Jesus Christ; Part 2 – Gabriel announces the birth of the Messiah

Through his emphasis on the importance of women to be included in the Messiah’s mission to draw all humanity back to Yahweh, Luke shifts the announcement of Christ to Mary’s perspective. His intention was not to rail against the patriarchal society of the Jewish nation; he desired to present women as equally important to share the Gospel of salvation to the world. Luke’s account of Mary’s witness compliments Joseph’s encounter described in Matthew.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, sent by Yahweh to Nazareth to Mary, Gabriel announced the miraculous conception of Christ, the Messiah. Mary was a direct descendant of the House of David, which also referred to the tribe of Judah. The Messiah had been prophesied to come from the tribe of Judah.

(Luke 1:26-38)

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David.

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, highly favored woman! The LORD is with you!”

The angel’s words were confusing, which disturbed Mary. She tried to consider what the angel’s greetings could mean.

“Do not be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God, has favored you and decided to bless you. You will become pregnant in your womb and have a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel, the house of Jacob, forever. His Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “How can I have a baby when I am still a virgin and have not yet known a man?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you,” the angel replied. “The Baby born to you will be Holy. He will be called the Son of God. Furthermore, your cousin Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she is already in her sixth month of pregnancy. Nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s handmaiden,” Mary responded. “I am willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you have said become truth.”

After Mary said this, the angel left.

 

What tremendous responsibility was bestowed upon Mary?

How would you have felt if Yahweh had chosen you for such an enormous honor?

What character traits do you believe Mary exhibited to receive the undeserved blessing of the Heavenly Father?

 

God favored Mary with the grace He gave her, which was not due to her standing. Here deeply troubled might be better paraphrased as confused or perplexed. She may have wondered how she qualified in the eyes of Yahweh to receive the honor of bearing the Messiah into the world.

Some of us may be faced with that same issue. Several years ago, God called me into youth ministry for my church. Although I had already been teaching God’s Word for over two decades to various age groups, it had never been at the level that the Holy Spirit was influencing upon me. Feeling confused and vastly under-qualified for the responsibility – I was already over fifty, which is almost thirty years beyond the recommended age for persons in youth ministry – I resisted taking on the challenge. I cannot begin to imagine what would have happened if I had denied His calling.

God’s will and plan are often beyond the scope of our comprehension. It is okay for us to feel inadequate because it abolishes the pride that can block us from accepting God’s control. Realizing that Yahweh identifies within us the hidden capabilities that can only be empowered through the Holy Spirit. We become His tools to reach others and teach them about the plan of salvation. Mary certainly did not feel qualified to bear the Son of God, but her loyalty and trust in Yahweh led her to submit to His will.

Mary responded with dignity and respect. She did not accept the blessing with pride or arrogance, rather she humbled herself in the eyes of Yahweh and submitted herself with willing obedience in heart and life. She had reached the age where she already knew of the processes necessary for human procreation. Even though she questioned her own human understanding, she did not question how God intended to accomplish the miracle.

 

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth

(Luke 1:39-45)

A few days after Mary had the encounter with the angel, she arose and hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth.  At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth shouted for joy and exclaimed to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your Child within you is blessed as well! Why is this granted to me, that the honor of the mother of my Lord, should come to visit me?

“When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! You are blessed because you believed the Lord would fulfill what He told you!”

 

What has God done for you that you feel you did not deserve?

At that moment of realization, what praise did you offer God for His grace?

 

(Luke 1:46-56)

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise

Mary responded,

“My soul magnifies the Lord.

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

For He took notice of His lowly handmaiden.

Behold, henceforth generation after generation will call me blessed.

For He, the Mighty One, has done important things for me; Holy is His Name.

His mercy goes on to all who fear Him from generation to generation.

His mighty arm does tremendous deeds; He scatters the proud and the haughty ones in the imagination of their hearts!

He has taken the mighty from their seats and princes from their thrones and exalted them of the lowest standing.

He has filled and satisfied the craving hearts with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.

And how God has helped His servants, the people of Israel!

He has not forgotten His promise to be merciful.

He promised our ancestors, Abraham and his children, to be merciful to them forever.”

Mary continued to stay with Elizabeth for about three months before she went back to her own home.

 

Mary offered a hymn of praise that expressed her faith in Yahweh, her love for Him, and her willingness to serve Him in that important capacity. She recalled the many blessings God heaped upon humanity, echoing many of the Psalms of David. She praised the Almighty for His continuous mercy just as He promised Abraham for his descendants.

It is not too late to express your gratitude. I am sure that when you look back over your life, you can recognize the times when Yahweh had extended His grace to you. There will be times in your future when He will continue to bless you. It is now your responsibility to realize those blessings and express your gratitude. Are you willing to submit yourself to His providence and direction?

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