Advent: Gabriel’s Announcement to Mary
(Scroll down to listen to the audio recording)
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to 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.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26–38)
Read: Luke 1:26–38, Isaiah 9:1-7
Gabriel, the same angel that visited Zechariah, came to announce the news of the Advent to Mary. No other person would be so intricately woven into the miracle birth of Christ than Mary! She was engaged to be married to Joseph, from David’s family line, and was still a virgin. We don’t know much about Mary’s background or her personal life, but we do know here that God chose to give her favor. Mary, a normal, Israelite teenager, would carry God the Son in her womb. Like Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist, she was granted favor by God and used for His purposes.
Her reproach, giving birth out of wedlock, will make way for the Messiah—the promised Deliverer! It is easy to sympathize with Mary’s question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin? (Luke 1:34). Gabriel’s response seems cryptic to us, but there is no explanation that we or Mary could have understood. The virgin birth of Christ was a miracle beyond our understanding! We aren’t meant to understand it, and neither was Mary. Rather, we simply learn that the Holy Spirit came upon her and placed the baby in her womb. This is the seed of the woman that was spoken of in Genesis 3:15. And, this is the child spoken of in Isaiah 9:1-7. As if to give Mary comfort, Gabriel announce to her that God has also placed a baby in Elizabeth’s womb as well. Elizabeth’s barrenness and Mary’s virginity would be used to send the Messiah and His messenger. After all, Yahweh is the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He is the God who has been working miracles since before the beginning of time. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
“Mary lived in the world that was made, and the Maker of the world was the sole author of what could and would happen here. The Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and when he pulled that shadow back, this virgin would become a mother to a son. How this would happen was less important than the fact that it would. And God would be the one to do it.” (Russ Ramsey)*
What this passage teaches us about Jesus:
- His birth was a miracle.
- He would be born to Mary, a virgin.
- His name was chosen by God.
- He would be great.
- He would be called the Son of the Most High.
- He would serve as the eternal King of Kings, in David’s line.
- He would reign over Israel, and His Kingdom would never end.
- He would be holy.
- He would be the Son of God.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
- Nothing is impossible with God. Our God, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, does what He wants when He wants. He is on a mission to redeem the world to Himself. This mission is on His timetable and He will use the methods He chooses. He uses the people He chooses because the work of redemption depends upon His power — not ours.
- Respond with humble submission to God’s Word. The Kingdom of God is brought about by the mission of God. But we, as Mary exemplifies in Luke 1, are joyfully invited and commanded to join into His plan. The angel of God came to announce a specific role to Mary, and she responded with humble obedience. Christian, you have the Holy Spirit speaking directly to your heart. And, we also have the Word of God and the people of God (the Church) to help guide our understanding.
- Praise the Lord for His past works and obey the Lord in His current works. The New Testament is full of directives for both individual followers of Jesus and, corporately, the body of Christ. Namely, Jesus gave us the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-34) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). The Great Commission is Jesus’ invitation for obedience and participation in His Mission. Work to create habits of immediate obedience to His Word in all areas of life.
Lord Jesus, your coming is beyond my understanding. But, I can believe in your miracle birth because your Word says that it happened. You were born to an Israelite girl by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. You were both God and man, but you held back your power as God so that you could feel the weight of brokenness and pain our world carries. Thank you for humbling yourself and using created people in your eternal plan. Teach me to look to your example of perfect obedience to the Father, as my picture of faithfulness. Give me grace to trust your forgiveness when I fail.
Family Discipleship Time
- Can you name the people in this Bible story? What are some details about them? (Mary the mother of Jesus, was engaged to be married. Joseph, was going to be Mary’s husband. He was one of David’s great, great, great, grandsons. Gabriel, who was the angel that also visited Elizabeth to announce John the Baptist’s coming birth.)
- What does this story tell us about Jesus? (His birth was a miracle, because He was the Son of God promised to be born to a normal woman, Mary. He is the Son of the Most High and His Kingdom will never end. Jesus is the Creator, so nothing is impossible for Him.)
- Who are some people that we can share this story with (who don’t already know it)? (Make a list of friends of family members that don’t know the Gospel message or have previousy rejected that Jesus is God the Son. Pray for them right now, and plan a time to share this simple story with them.)
- Poem – “Fearful and Favored” by Aimee Joseph (TGC)
- Article – “7 Reasons to Celebrate Advent” by Ryan Shelton (Desiring God)
- Song – “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
- Song – “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
- Video – “Luke 1 & 2” by The Bible Project
*Quote from “The Advent of the Lamb of God” by Russ Ramsey (p. 126).