Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE ANGEL GABRIEL’S VISIT TO THE VIRGIN NAMED MARY”

Luke 1.26-38

 

In something less than three weeks the western world, or at least that part of the west that claims to be Christian, will celebrate Christmas. Those who have no concept of Christmas beyond the materialistic frenzy that is characterized by so-called holiday trees, so-called holiday ornaments and lights, and the exchange of gifts purchased with high interest rate credit cards, do not realize that Christmas is the time of year when the birth of the Son of God is remembered. As my brother and I grew up, our family never associated Christmas and Christmas presents with the birth of Jesus Christ, though we did perform in pretty elaborate Christmas plays in grade school. Thus, my own childhood experience persuades me that it is entirely possible, and probably likely, that your youngster will make no connection between Christmas activities and the birth of God’s Son unless you, mom and dad, make that connection in a very direct and forceful way.

I believe the Bible, and am persuaded by my experiences and my investigations that there is no conflict between the Bible, rightly understood, and science, rightly understood. I do not accept the notion that there is one kind of reality that addresses spiritual and religious concerns and another kind of reality that addresses factual and scientific concerns. There are not two realities. There is only one reality. Thus, faith and religious concerns exist alongside science and history and are not really in conflict at all. With that said, you will see why I rely on the Bible as I do to inform me that God, Who created this universe and all that herein is, is not only everywhere present in His creation, but is also a Being of such immensity that He is bigger than the physical universe that reaches so far beyond the observation of our most powerful space-based telescopes.

Therefore, when I celebrate Christmas I am rejoicing in what theologians refer to as the incarnation. The incarnation is that miracle whereby the Second Person of the triune Godhead entered into the human sphere by taking upon Himself human flesh and nature and becoming a man, without in any way losing any aspect of or attributes of His divine nature. You have heard of the Big Bang, a scientific hypothesis whereby our huge, expanding universe supposedly came into existence when a super mass the size of a pinhead exploded and brought into existence what we now observe? Well, I believe a greater event than the Big Bang occurred when my bigger than the universe Savior entered the womb of a young Jewish girl and assumed the form of a single cell that grew over nine months to be born on the day we commemorate every Christmas.

Atheistic scientists posit the Big Bang to have been the most amazing natural phenomenon to ever occur. However, the incarnation of Jesus Christ not only actually occurred, but was so much more than a natural phenomenon. The incarnation was a stupendous miracle performed by Almighty God. This morning I want to look back to an event that took place in the life of that young Jewish girl named Mary before the incarnation of Jesus Christ, on the occasion of a visit to her by an angel named Gabriel. Please turn to Luke 1.26. When you have found that passage, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

26     And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27     To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28     And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29     And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30     And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31     And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32     He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33     And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34     Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35     And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36     And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37     For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38     And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

 

We already know from Luke chapter one that this same angel appeared to an old and childless Jewish priest named Zacharias and announced to him that he and his wife, Elisabeth, would have a baby in their old age. “And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived.”

Three aspects of this incident in the life of the virgin who would give birth to the Son of God, who would then grow to maturity and die on the cross for our sins, rise from the dead after three days and nights, and then ascend to heaven where He is presently enthroned until His second coming:

 

First, THE APPEARANCE TO MARY OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL

 

26     And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27     To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

 

Is it not interesting how God does things? When Gabriel appeared to announce the birth of John the Baptist, we see earlier in this chapter that announcement was made to an old man, a priest, in the city of Jerusalem, in Herod’s Temple, and in the holy place. That was to announce the birth of a prophet. However, to announce the birth of God’s own Son, an announcement is made to a solitary young girl, in the remote village of Nazareth, in the northern and rustic region of Galilee. Could there be a greater contrast?

This appearance took place when Mary’s older cousin Elisabeth was already six months into her pregnancy, meaning two things that most people overlook: First, John the Baptist would be related to the Lord Jesus Christ, since their mothers were cousins. Second, John the Baptist would be six months older than the Lord Jesus Christ if they were both born after full term pregnancies.

As for Gabriel, he is an angel well known to us, for his appearances to the prophet Daniel, for his appearance to Zacharias, and for his claim to be one who stands in the presence of God, Luke 1.19. That he is the angel dispatched by God to Mary suggests that something extremely important is about to happen, as indeed it is.

The gospel writer is careful to inform his readers of two important details of Mary’s life: First, she is a virgin. The Greek word is parqenon. In light of the prophecy found in Genesis 3.15, where God says to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,” and in Isaiah 7.14, where the LORD said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” that Mary is a virgin should loom very large in our thinking. As well, she was “espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” The Jewish marriage process was a two-stage affair. The initial state involved a formal witnessed agreement and a financial exchange of the bride price. This had apparently already taken place. Mary legally belonged to Joseph and is now referred to as his wife, though the marriage ceremony and the consummation of the marriage has not yet occurred.1 Any child born to a woman with this status would legally be the child of the espoused husband, giving Mary’s child the legal status of heir to the throne of Israel’s greatest king, David.

It is no accident that this angel, Gabriel, appeared to this virgin, Mary, at this time in history, six months into the pregnancy of her cousin, Elisabeth, after appearing to her husband Zacharias.

 

Next, THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF CHRIST’S BIRTH

 

28     And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29     And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30     And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31     And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32     He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33     And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34     Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35     And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36     And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37     For with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

Notice the interplay between the angel Gabriel and this young and inexperienced woman named Mary:

First, in verses 28-30, we see that her fear is calmed by the angel.

 

28     And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29     And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30     And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

 

The first phrase of verse 28, “And the angel came in unto her,” suggest she was indoors, probably in a place of privacy. Therefore, the sudden appearance of an angel, of what initially appeared to her to be a man, was probably somewhat startling. And that was before he spoke to her, saying, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Verse 29 combines her two reactions, at seeing Gabriel and then in consideration of what he said to her: “And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” Alone in a room, about fifteen or sixteen years old, living a normal and somewhat anonymous life, when Gabriel suddenly appears before her and tells her that she is highly favored by God, that God is with her, and that she is blessed among women. Astonishing. Would you not be startled and disconcerted? Therefore, verse 30, “the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”

Next, and the reason for Gabriel’s visit to her, the announcement is made:

 

31     And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32     He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33     And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 

Notice the seven phrases that hinge on some form of the word “shall”: First, Mary shall: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son.” God has a pregnancy planned for her, so that she might deliver a son. In this Mary will be entirely passive. Next, Mary again shall, only this time she will not be entirely passive: “and shalt call his name JESUS.” Jesus in the New Testament is Joshua in the Old Testament, just as Jacob in the Old Testament is James in the New Testament.2 Third, Jesus shall, verse 32: “He shall be great.” Fourth, Jesus shall again: “and shall be called the Son of the Highest.” Fifth, the Lord God shall: “and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” Sixth, Jesus shall: “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.” Finally, Jesus shall: “and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” One might meditate on this series of statements for a long time to try to understand how Mary was affected by the angel’s words. This is her life connected to her not yet conceived Son and to the Lord God into eternity future. Quite an experience for a young Jewish girl.

However, she must have paid attention to what the angel has said to her, because she thereafter asked him a question, verse 34: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” Notice, there is no doubt in her question. She believes what the angel Gabriel has just told her. She just inquires how these things will come about, seeing she has no sexual experience. Children simply are not conceived and then born otherwise. In asking Gabriel this question she reinforces the important fact of her virginity. This conception and subsequent birth will not take place by natural means. This will be a miracle.

This leads to the announcement being expanded, with some elaboration provided, verse 35: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Gabriel tells Mary two things here: First, in two parallel statements, he tells her how she will become pregnant, even though she is a virgin and will be a virgin until her delivery: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” This imagery is reminiscent of Genesis 1.2, where “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” of the Shekinah glory of God hovering over the Tabernacle in the wilderness in Exodus chapter 40, and to God’s presence protecting His people in Psalm 91.4. After telling Mary what God the Holy Spirit would do with her, for her, and to her, Gabriel then tells her what the result will be: “therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Gabriel’s concluding remarks to Mary was for the purpose of giving her some much needed assurance, verses 36-37:

 

36     And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37     For with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

Here we have two statements made that had the effect of comforting Mary in the face of this avalanche of revelation that would not only throw her life into turmoil, but would also result in her experiencing a great deal of suffering at the hands of ignorant and judgmental people. First, in verse 36, Mary is told that Elisabeth, her cousin who was married to the priest named Zacharias, and who had not been able to conceive and bear children, was now sixth months along. Whether Mary already knew that or not we do not know, but Gabriel’s comment establishes a connection that Mary will take advantage of when she goes to visit her cousin. Then, in verse 37, Gabriel makes a statement that resonates in the heart of everyone who reads the Word of God with faith believing. For twenty centuries God’s people have been comforted in the face of adversity by Gabriel’s words to Mary: “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Over the course of a few moments a messenger from God’s throne room has told her that God has chosen her, that God has favored her, and that God will use her. The implications of Gabriel’s words are that life as she had imagined it would be is now over. In a way she had never before realized, her life is completely in God’s hands to do with as He pleases. That which was unimaginable will occur in her life, because with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

Finally, ACCEPTANCE IS SHOWN

 

Verse 38: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”

 

Notice what Mary said to Gabriel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” This is a young woman bowing to the will of God for her life. This is the verbal expression of surrender, what Paul calls for in Romans 12.1, where he urges, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” How are we to explain her rapid response to Gabriel? How can we understand her sudden surrender? I think we must recognize that there was nothing rapid or sudden about Mary’s response to Gabriel. You see, spiritual behavior is almost always planned behavior. I think it most reasonable to assume that this notion of surrendering to the will of God was something Mary had already thoroughly considered in her life, had already wrestled with against the contrary desires we must all deal with. Therefore, when presented by Gabriel with God’s revelation of His will for her life, she did what she had before planned to do, what she had already decided to do, what she had only to this point lacked opportunity to do, which was to bow before her God in humble obedience.

Finally, notice what Gabriel did. “And the angel departed from her.” Which is to say, he left and returned to the throne room of heaven to once again stand before God until bidden to serve Him in another way. What more was there for Gabriel to do? He was dispatched to convey a message to a godly young woman who God’s providential watchcare over had prepared for a great and unique task. The angel’s charge was to inform Mary of God’s will for her life, to simply tell her what God had decided to do. That done, he left.

 

In ways you and I cannot fully understand, Mary’s life would be turned upside down. A holy vessel used by the Son of God to enter human history as the God-man by means of an unfathomable miracle, Mary would suffer the indignities associated with a woman thought by others to be a fornicator, but known by Christians to be a godly young woman chosen by God for a most important task.

Thus, she had to be told in advance, she had to be forewarned, which is to be forearmed. God knew her capabilities, as well as her limitations, so He sent the angel to warn her what He would do with her, and then provided her older cousin Elizabeth to comfort her and to help her prepare for her life’s mission in the early days of her pregnancy.

Notice, as we conclude, that nowhere is Mary asked to do this. Her permission is not sought by God by any means. The angel is sent to inform Mary what her God was soon going to do with her. My friends, God does not ask; He calls, and He tells.

When Adam was so informed by God, he rebelled at God’s will and ate the forbidden fruit. When Jonah was informed of God’s will for his life, he fled in the opposite direction. Mary, however, sweet Mary, precious young Mary, bowed before her God and obeyed, setting the stage for one of the most inconceivable miracles God has ever performed.

Infinitely powerful, more immense than the universe, so holy that the heavens are not clean in His site, when the Holy Ghost overshadowed that girl, the Son of God entered her womb to live for nine months while God prepared a body for Him. When the body was finally and fully formed, He was born in Bethlehem, and every year at Christmastime we celebrate His birth.

Jesus suffered and bled and died for our sins on Calvary’s cross. However, before He could do that He had to become a man. To become a man He had to be born, and He was born at Christmas. That is why Christmas means so much to Christians, because Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, Who died for our sins. For everyone else, Christmas is just a time to splurge on gifts.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org