Luke 1:26-38 – The Angel’s Message to Mary

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Luke 1:26-27

  1. Earlier in the chapter, the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah and also the prophet Daniel 500 years before Christ (Dan 8:16, 9:21). Gabriel’s name means “mighty man”.
  2. Mary was a “virgin”, i.e. she was unmarried and therefore had not had sex. Hence Mary’s surprise that she will soon become pregnant.
  3. Sometimes the biblical testimony of the virgin birth is questioned and (mis)explained as a “mythological term” or similar. But the fact that the virgin birth really happened as described in the Bible is important for seven main reasons:
    1. First of all, if the virgin birth is not true, then the Bible is not true either. Both Luke and Matthew write that Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38).
    2. Second, if the virgin birth is not true, who was Jesus’ father? Matthew is clear that Joseph was not the father of the child. If you don’t believe in the virgin birth, you are indirectly accusing Mary of adultery.
    3. Third, if the virgin birth is not true, is Jesus really God? According to John 1, Jesus is God who was born as a man, but if Jesus was made from two ordinary people, how can Jesus be incarnate?
    4. Fourth, if the virgin birth is not true, how can Jesus be sinless? According to Paul, all men have sinned (Rom 3:23) and how can a sinful man die for the sins of mankind?
    5. Fifth, if the virgin birth is not true, what about other miracles? If one does not believe that God can create life in a woman’s womb, does one believe, for example, that Jesus rose from the dead?
    6. Sixthly, if the Virgin Birth is not correct, then you have problems with the creeds, either you have to reinterpret its content or you have to remove or change it.
    7. Seventh, if the virgin birth is not true, then one gets a strange relationship to both church history and the rest of Christianity.
    8. In conclusion, I believe that if one is serious about questioning the virgin birth, one is also indirectly questioning the authority of Scripture, the credibility of Mary, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Creeds and Church history.
  4. Every child that is born is a new creation, but since Jesus has always existed (John 1:1, John 17:5), and is therefore older than his own mother, he could not have been born by a normal “conception” but by a miracle.
    1. Jesus existed in heaven with his Father, but without a mother, and was born into this world through his mother, but without an earthly father.
    2. The Son of God becoming man is therefore a miracle and took place through the work of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Mary was from the much despised city of Nazareth in northern Israel. Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was often referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”. This shows us that Jesus had no problem being associated with this town and its bad reputation. In the same way, we Christians today should not be afraid of being associated with despised people, but rather identify with them.
    1. Even today, Christians in the Middle East are called “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).
      1. We Westerners were recently given a painful reminder of this when Muslim extremists seized the Iraqi city of Mosul and forced all Christians to convert to Islam or die. The extremists marked all Christian houses with the Arabic letter “N” for “Nazarene”. The vast majority of Christians in Mosul fled the city as a result.
  6. Very often biblical names have a connection to the mission of the person in question, but in Mary’s case this does not seem to be the case. The meaning of Mary’s name is uncertain, but a common interpretation is that her name means “defiant” and thus does not at all reflect her response to God’s mission. Another possible interpretation of the name Mary is that it means “beloved”.
  7. The traditions of marriage in Jesus’ time are quite different from today’s Western views. Normally, parents would arrange the marriage without even asking those who were getting married. The groom’s family paid a “bride price” for the marriage and thus the couple was “betrothed”. Betrothal was as binding as marriage; to dissolve the betrothal, one had to be divorced and if one was unfaithful during the betrothal, one would be stoned (Deut. 22:23-24). The only difference was that the couple had not yet moved in together and entered into a sexual relationship.
    1. By becoming pregnant while engaged to Joseph, Mary put herself in mortal danger because people might think she had been unfaithful and would be stoned to death.
  8. Joseph belonged to the tribe of Judah and was related to King David (Matthew 1:6). He was a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55) and came from the city of Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4).
    1. The reason it is so important that Jesus is of David’s lineage is because of God’s promise to King David (2Sam 7:14-16).

Luke 1:28

  1. Mary is called “favored” because, on the one hand, she was an ordinary sinful person (Ecclesiastes 7:21, Romans 3:23) in need of a Savior (Luke 1:46-47) just like everyone else, but on the other hand she was given the great joy of bringing God’s Son into the world.
    1. The great thing about Mary is not her excellence, but her lowliness (Luke 1:45). The unique thing about Mary is that although she was just an ordinary teenage girl, she got to be the instrument God used to make her human. God often uses the insignificant as an instrument of his will. In this way, God gets the glory because it was not through the excellence of any human being but instead through the grace of God.
      1. Therefore, it is important not to exalt Mary and praise her for her excellence, because then we both diminish God’s mercy towards Mary and fail to give God the glory for the miracle that Mary witnessed.
      2. Instead, we should remember Mary for the amazing blessing she received and her humble approach to the enormous task she was given.
      3. In the same way, we should be careful not to exalt ourselves or other persons whom God uses in a powerful way, because we risk obscuring the fact that it is God who is working through the person in question. When we thank God for doing great works through little people, we give God the glory instead of exalting ourselves.

Luke 1:29-30

  1. Maria was a simple and pious young woman with no extravagant plans for the future, and it is no wonder that she is terrified of the great task that awaits her.

Luke 1:30

  1. These words from the angel Gabriel were prophesied by Isaiah:
    1. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14).
      1. The name “Immanuel” means “God with us” and implies that Jesus is the person of the Trinity who became human; as one of us.
  2. In biblical times, a person’s name was more than just a name of address; it represented the person’s purpose, character and life. All of Jesus’ names and titles teach us something about who he is.
    1. The name “Jesus” is a Greek variant of the Hebrew name Joshua, Yeshua or Yehoshuah, which is a contraction of the two Hebrew words “yeho”, which is a word that comes from “YHWH” / “Yahweh”, and “shua” which means “salvation” or “save us!”. So all in all, Jesus’ name becomes “God saves us” or “God the saviour”, which is very consistent with Jesus being God who became man to save us.

Luke 1:32-33

  1. From a secular point of view, it is difficult to find a historical person greater than Jesus. Wherever you go in the world, most people know who Jesus is. Without conquering a single kingdom or killing a single person, Jesus has built a greater kingdom than the world has ever seen. Today alone, there are over 2 billion people who confess Jesus as their King.
  2. Jesus would receive the throne of his ancestor King David, that is, he would be the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament to come (2 Sam 7:12-16).

Luke 1:34-35

  1. Mary does not ask if this miracle can happen, but how it should happen, since she was a virgin. This shows that she believes in the angel Gabriel’s message, but wonders how God will bring this about.
  2. In Old Testament times, it was not uncommon for God to reveal himself to people by a “thick cloud” over the person in question, such as Moses or Aaron (Exodus 19:9).
  3. The word “holy” means “consecrated for a specific purpose”, and in this sense Jesus was indeed “holy”, because he was chosen to die for the sins of all people and thus reconcile humanity with God.
  4. Since Jesus has always existed (John 1:1, John 17:5), he did not become the Son of God on this occasion, but from now on he would be called the Son of God.
    1. To be called someone’s “son” in biblical times meant that you possessed that person’s qualities. With this in mind, it is therefore not surprising that the Jewish religious leadership becomes enraged when Jesus calls God his “Father” (John 5:18) and thus claims to be the “Son of God”, which was obviously blasphemous unless, as in Jesus’ case, one is God (John 1:1).
    2. The fact that Jesus is the Son of God shows us the mutual relationship between the Father and Jesus, but also shows that Jesus is the person in the Trinity who was born as a Son of Man.
    3. Jesus is “true God of true God, born and not made, of the same essence as the Father” (see the Council of the Church of Constantinople in 381).

Luke 1:36

  1. Mary never asked for proof that what the angel Gabriel told her was true, but gets it anyway.
    1. While God’s word should be good enough for the believer, it does not hurt to have some form of confirmation from time to time that what God says will happen.

Luke 1:37

  1. Even though every believer knows this, it can be nice to be reminded that God is all-powerful and can do whatever he wants. We can trust what God says, even if it seems humanly impossible.
    1. If it was true for Mary 2000 years ago, it is true for us today, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8)

Luke 1:38

  1. Mary replies to the angel Gabriel that she is willing to humbly accept the task God has given her and that she believes in what God has said.
    1. In the same way, today we too should humbly accept the task God gives us and trust that God will carry out what he has said.
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