Story 11: The Virgin and the Angel

Luke 1:26-38 

Annunciation: Mary and angel Gabriel

God sent His angel to a young girl to do a task that made it look like she was breaking all the rules…if that is the kind of God He is, what kind of tasks might He have in store for us?

It was a remarkable event.  The angel Gabriel was sent by God from the throne room of Heaven to proclaim the Lord’s plan to Zechariah. Zechariah would have a son who would be like the prophet Elijah of old.   He would be the one that prepared the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah. They had been waiting for this Messiah to come for hundreds upon hundreds of years. The greatest prophets of the Old Testament gave oracles about the power and might of this Messiah. He would wage war against the enemies of Israel and take the throne of David in Jerusalem. He would set the captives free, preach good news to the poor, and turn their mourning into dancing. He would rule and reign in the power of God’s Spirit in perfect justice and bring peace to His people.   He was the great hope of Israel, and they longed for Him. Now it seemed that God was on the move. The Messiah was on His way, and He had chosen Zechariah’s son to declare His coming to the nation!

Six months after Elizabeth became pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel from His throne room with another sacred message. This time, he came to a young virgin girl. Her name was Mary and she lived in the city of Nazareth. She was betrothed to marry a man named Joseph. He was a common man, a carpenter. He wasn’t wealthy or powerful, but he was a descendant in the line of King David.

The angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, “‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’” Luke wrote that at this point, Mary became troubled. She didn’t understand what this angel meant by this high and glorious greeting!

“‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. 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, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, His kingdom will never end.’”

Can you imagine taking all that in?  Elizabeth was already pregnant, and now Mary was going to have a Son, too…only this Child would be the Son of God himself! He would be the Messiah that the prophets had told about for ages and ages past. He would rule as King over an everlasting Kingdom! Wow.

But Mary was confused. You see, she wasn’t married yet and she had kept herself pure. She had never been with a man. It was impossible for her to have a child. So she asked the angel Gabriel, “‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’”

Gabriel told her, “‘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. 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. For nothing is impossible with God.’”

Mary’s quiet, gentle answer to this impossible and glorious revelation was this: “‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be for me as you have said.’”

Wow.  Try reading the words of Gabriel again. Imagine what it was like for Mary to hear them. God Himself, through the power of His Spirit, was going to work a miracle in Mary’s body. The Lord Himself, the Son of God, was going to be her Child! She was going to carry the One who made the universe inside her womb! What great faith this little virgin had to believe such an astonishing thing!

Mary believed that God could do what He said. What a beautiful, simple faith. Her faith could also be seen in her great humility and courage. For you see, when Mary accepted this message from the angel, she also accepted that her life was about to change. She was going to have to trust God to take care of her when everyone in her life wondered how she had become pregnant. What would her parents say? What would Joseph think? Would this bring disgrace on him? Would he still marry her? Would anyone believe her? Would she be alone? The world would not understand what God was about to do, but Mary believed in a God she could not see. He was her protection, and she was His loyal servant, no matter what it cost.

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