26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Version: New International Version

COMMENTS

General:

  • Just as Gabriel announced John's forthcoming birth to Zechariah, he announces Jesus' to Mary (v.26ff).
  • May was pledged to be married (v.27). This was virtually considered a marriage, only the couple did not live together and did not have any marital relations. Moreover, breaking off the engagement was a virtual divorce.
  • Joseph was a descendant of David (v.27), and so legally Jesus was born into the tribe of Judah and the family of David. This was essential if the Messianic prophecies were to be fulfilled (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 110:1; Micah 5:2).
  • Mary will conceive when the Spirit overshadows her (v.35).
  • Jesus is to be:
    • Great (v.32). No man has ever been greater, nor more worthy of our respect, praise, or obedience.
    • The Son of God (v.32). He is to be uniquely the Son of God.
    • A king, sitting on the throne of his (fore-)father David (v.32). Moreover, his kingdom will never end (v.33), just as the prophecy says (Isaiah 9:7).
    • Holy (v.35). Jesus was completely set apart to do his Father's will, and he calls us too to be holy.
  • Mary responds to the angelophany with fear and wonder (v.29).
    • And yet her response to the news is not skeptical, but believing.
    • Believing that that "nothing is impossible with God" (v.37), she lives a life open to divine possibilities, obedient and receptive. Her son Jesus, sharing the same faith, sees what others cannot see.
    • She humbly accepts God's plan for her life (vv.34,38).

Advanced:

  • In regard to verse 27, in first century Israel, a girl was normally betrothed at age 12 or 13. Regular married life, including sexual relations, began about a year later. Men married at a later age.
  • The name of Mary's baby is to be Jesus (v.31).
    • His name is Yeshua, Joshua (salvation). And yet, unlike Joshua, he is not to be a military man, but a Prince of Peace.
    • Note: both Mary and Jesus were very common names in first century Palestine.
  • Most of Israel expected a political king -- which was a misunderstanding of prophecy. And yet he is a king (v.33), which means he has a kingdom. For more on the kingdom, see my audio set, The Kingdom Come.
  • About the virgin birth (v.35):
    • It is not the Immaculate Conception, which is a Roman Catholic term for Mary being born without the stain of "original sin."
    • The technical name for virgin birth is parthenogenesis.
    • Naturally, few would be prepared to believe in a pregnancy by the Spirit of God! (Indeed, it took an angel appearing in a dream for Joseph to believe (Matthew 1:19-20)!
    • Surprisingly to many, the Muslims (over one fifth of the world population) accept that Jesus was born of a virgin. See Surah 19 of the Qur'an.
    • For some virgin births in mythology, click here.
  • Many biblical scholars and churchmen reject the Virgin Birth, preferring instead to interpret it as myth. But this is one of the bedrock doctrines of the historic Christian faith.
  • In regard to verse 35, as John Nolland insightfully writes in volume 35A of the Word Biblical Commentary, Luke 1-9:20, "In Jewish thought to be a son of God is never a matter of physical origin. The notion 'son of God' is generally focused on adoption or election to a special relationship with God (Exod 4:22; 2 Sam 7:14; Pss 2:7; 89:26-27; Jer 31:20; Hos 11:1; Sir 36:11; 4 Ezra 6:58; Ps-Philo, Bib. Ant. 32.10; cf. TDNT 8:347-53. When the nation Israel is in view, sometimes the additional element of God's formation of the nation is also present (Isa 43:6-7; cf. 63:16; 64:8), and something analogous in the way of endowment is possibly present also in the case of the king (Ps 2:7). Even when used of supernatural beings the language of sonship expresses no more than that these beings belong to the heavenly order and not to the earthly (Gen 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Pss 29:1[?]; 82:6[?]; 89:6). Occasionally the element of moral likeness to God appears, though not generally alone (Ps 73:15[?]; Sir 4:10; Jub. 1.24-25[?]; T.Jud. 24.3; y.Qidd. 1:8; cf. Matt 5:45; Luke 6:35).

Thought questions:

  • Am I impressed by the heart of Mary? If not, is it possible I have reacted to her as have many Protestants, downplaying her major role in the Bible story out of fear of becoming "Catholic"? Or am I misogynist, reluctant to learn from a woman?
  • Concerning the words of Gabriel and Paul, do I have a Luke 1:37/Philippians 4:13 attitude, or am I negative, dejected, faithless?
  • Do I have any obstacles or circumstances in my life that seem impossible to handle or overcome?  Do I trust God to work his will in my life through these obstacles? Do I have faith that he will provide what I need to do well in every circumstance he allows to occur in my life?