Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Gabriel sent to Mary at Nazareth – God is no respecter of persons.
Messenger sent to Nazareth as well as Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the site of the Temple, the place where God’s presence dwelled, the religious center. Nazareth was far to the north, near the influence of the Gentiles. In fact, Galilee was often referred to as “Galilee of the Gentiles” by the religious leaders. Two of the major roads of the world passed within eyesight of the surrounding hills near Nazareth. The north/south road which stretched between Rome and northern Africa and the east/west road that stretched between Babylonia and the western cities of the Roman Empire both crossed near Nazareth. Some Bible scholars believe there was a Roman outpost at Nazareth.
Messenger sent to a young girl as well as a priest.
Gabriel sent to a virgin engaged to be married.
The birth of God’s Son required both a divine nature and a human nature. If He had been born in the natural way, He would have been no more than other men. Jesus already existed with God the Father. He just needed a body. Hebrews 10:5 – ….a body you have prepared (set in order, equip, make fully ready, fitted) for me…
The birth of God’s Son required that He come through a woman. That was the only way He could share with the man nature. Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.
The birth of God’s Son required both a divine nature and a human nature. Today we see all the “miracles” of modern science – the test tube babies and other means of fertilization of female eggs. If man can do such “miracles” certainly God can. If God could create all the universe by His Word, could He not create a body for His Son by His Word? Even our “new birth” spiritually comes about because of faith in His Word. I Peter 1:23 -“Having been born again, not of corruptible (perishable) seed but incorruptible (unperishable) through the word of God which lives and abides forever.
Mary received great pronouncements of blessing
- She was highly favored.
- The Lord was with her.
- She would be called blessed (granted favor with God) among women.
Note: We look at Mary from the benefit of 2,000 years later. We recognize the honor that was given to her to be chosen to be the mother of Jesus. We know that God was truly with her in a closer, physical sense than any of us can ever claim. Yet, we need to look at Mary with a fresh look.
Imagine yourself a young girl (probably no more than 15 or 16) engaged to be married when you suddenly find yourself pregnant. This was in a society where pregnancy outside of marriage was almost unheard of, where such events led to both the young woman and the child being considered “outcasts” of society, where fornication was a terrible sin punishable by death by stoning. Engagement in that society was as binding as marriage. The only way to break an engagement was by a divorce.
Matthew’s story of Joseph’s response indicates that he did not believe Mary at first. In Matthew 1:20, we are told that “he thought about these things.” It was only after an angel appeared to him to reassure him that Mary was telling him the truth when she said she was still a virgin that he believed her.
All of Mary’s life they probably gossiped about her in the village. Jesus was probably looked upon with scorn as an illegitimate child. Their opinion of Joseph is not known. They may have viewed him as a noble man willing to marry Mary and raise Jesus even though he belonged to another man, or they may have scorned Joseph also thinking he was guilty of committing fornication with Mary before their marriage was finalized. Either way, Mary’s lot could not have been an easy one walking living among the people of Nazareth with the gossip and scorn they would have heaped upon her and Jesus. Even her family probably laughed about her, or secretly grieved for the shame she had brought on them and on herself.
Then, look at the hardship imposed upon her while carrying Jesus. Because prophecy had to be fulfilled, she had to travel to Bethlehem on a donkey’s back while nine months pregnant. She had to give birth to Jesus far from home in a stable with only the animals and lowly shepherds to celebrate with her and Joseph. No mother or sisters to help her with the birth, no family to rejoice with her.
It appears that being His mother brought her no special position during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Matthew 12:46-50 – While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
She is mentioned only in passing in the story of the Early Church. Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Finally, look at the ultimate pain of seeing her son die such a cruel, painful death with the shame of the cross.
Maybe we need to take a new look at what it means to be highly favored and blessed by God. In America, we think it means material blessings (new homes, cars, clothes, good jobs) and great happiness (fame, success, lots of friends). WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FAVORED AND BLESSED BY GOD?
Mary Submitted to God’s Will
- She was troubled by the angel’s greeting.
- She had questions about the message: “How shall this be?”
- She submitted to the message: “Let it be to me according to your word.” She called herself a “maid servant” which literally meant “slave girl.” She was saying that she was willing to completely surrender to God. She would no longer control herself and her destiny. It was all in God’s hands.
We can learn from this:
- God expects us to believe Him and His ability to do what He says.
- God expects us to obey Him – without knowing what lies ahead, without knowing where that obedience will take us.
- God expects us to surrender to Him and allow Him to have control of our lives.
Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
Proverbs 23:4-5 – Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct (straighten out, be right, pleasing, good) your paths.
1 Samuel 15:22 -. . . to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
Luke 6:46 – But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?
John 15:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 15:21 – He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest (reveal, exhibit, make visible, present oneself to the sight of another, be conspicuous) Myself to him.
Being favored and blessed by God does not mean that our lives will be one success after another, one moment of happiness followed by another. It does not mean that we will receive the recognition and praise of men. It does not mean that we will get all our wants met, that life will be easy. It does mean that God will use us for His glory, for His purpose.
Luke 9:23 -“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luke 14:26-27,33 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Of course, in the long run, we will see that success, happiness and even recognition does come. Today Mary is honored all over the world. She has been remembered and honored more than Herod, Pilate, Caesar and the other great men of that time. She is rejoicing in heaven for all eternity. In the long run, we will find that believing God and obeying Him is the ultimate success. But, in the short run, we must, like Mary, believe and obey – regardless of the circumstances.
1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.