The mystery of God’s incarnation through Jesus is vital to our understanding of redemption because we are saved only through the acts of Christ’s life and death. In the encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel, we see God’s perfect plan of redemption comes through the incarnation of the Son. We also see Mary, the one whom God chose, who submitted to God and became an active member of the Kingdom of God. She was the recipient of God’s grace as she was told that she would give birth to the savior of the world. Because of Mary’s response, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.” humanity can rejoice in knowing that our Lord has come to redeem us, to dwell in us, and so that we may know that we can live in the anticipation that he will come again to rule and reign as King, Lord, and Almighty God.
Mary and the Angel
Vs. 26: “In the sixth month”- This is the sixth month of Elizabeth’s (Mary’s cousin or aunt) pregnancy.
“The angel Gabriel was sent by God…” The name Gabriel in Hebrew means “Man of God”. According to the Bible, he is the angel who brings revelation or messages. In Jewish noncanonical writings (Enoch), he is called one of four chief angels (Raphael, Uriel, and Michael). In these writings, he is described as an intercessor, destroyer of the wicked, one who is set over all powers, and sits at the left hand of God. According to Luke 1:19, He is the angel who stands in the presence of God. Michael and Gabriel are the only two angels mentioned in the Bible, and it is believed Gabriel is God’s messenger who executes His will on earth.
We also know him as the angel who appears to Daniel when the LORD instructs him to give Daniel clarity to the message he received.
He appears first to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, to tell him that Elizabeth is pregnant with a son. Six months later, he comes to Mary to give her the great news that she will give birth to the long-awaited Messiah.
Mary and her fiancé lived in a small town called Nazareth. It was about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. The town was surrounded by three hills making it a town located in a valley. There would be trade routes that would pass near the town but never through it. The town was small and insignificant in many ways, so it was not a city that was viewed favorably. Nazareth is the town where Jesus grew up.
Vs. 28: “Greetings, favored woman!!” These are powerful words. God has chosen this young virgin named Mary specifically to be the mother of the Savior of the world. The word favored means to show kindness to someone, with the implication of graciousness on the part of the one showing such kindness— ‘to show kindness, to manifest graciousness toward, kindness, graciousness, grace.’ She is the direct recipient of God’s grace. There is nothing that we read in the Bible that indicates there was anything uniquely special about Mary. Thus, we see her as a recipient of God’s grace in its full effect. God chooses or favors her directly from grace. What we do know about Mary is she is an ordinary young girl, and that is it. God simply chose her because that is who He chose. However, we should note, she is a model saint as she receives the grace.
“The Lord is with you!” – Some translations add, “blessed are you among women.” The angel spoke this to her because, as we will see, Mary is frightened by this encounter with the angel.
Vs 29: “But she was deeply troubled… wondering what kind of greeting this could be.” This is strange because it does not say that she was troubled or afraid because an angel appeared before her (which would have been understandable) but it says she was troubled with the kind of greeting it was.
Vs 30: “Do not be afraid” – The angel assures her that there is no need to be afraid. God is with her, and he has chosen her to be the recipient of God’s grace; thus, he has chosen her to be the vessel through whom he works to bring about His will of redemption through the Messiah.
Vs 31: “Listen” – The Angel tells her why she is highly favored. His wording is remarkably like the prophetic “virgin” passage found in Isaiah 7:14.
Mary will conceive a child, a boy, and his name will be Jesus. This was a common name in the OT and remained popular throughout the first century.
Matthew 1:21… The angel tells us the meaning of his name and indicates that he will save people from their sins. His name in Hebrew is Yeshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves” (Yahweh is typically rendered as “LORD” in the OT).
Vs 32 – 33: The angel declares the destiny or purpose of the coming Messiah. He will be called the son of the Most High, In fact, He will be called the Son of God. He will be a King, like David, over the house of Jacob, pointing to his relationship with Israel. He will reign as King forever because his Kingdom is eternal and will remain forever. These expressions point to Jesus being the long-awaited Messiah, even though the angel does not say this directly.
Vs. 34: Some think Mary’s response, “How can this be?” is a bit puzzling because Mary was obviously betrothed to be engaged, and having a child after marriage is certainly not out of the question. All Mary knew so far was she would have a child someday. Until now, the angel did not specify how or when the pregnancy would happen. So, some have suggested, and I agree, that Mary saw this encounter and promise as an immediate conception. This was not something, obviously, that was not going to happen a year or two down the road; it was going to happen soon.
Vs. 35: Mary questions the angel, and he indicates that this will not be an average pregnancy and birth. First, she will not conceive by natural means. This is a divine act of the Holy Spirit. She will conceive supernaturally by God. “The Most High will overshadow you.” The word for “overshadow” carries the sense of the holy, powerful presence of God, as in the description of the cloud that “covered” (“settled upon”) the Tabernacle when the tent was filled with the glory of God.
Vs 37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Reading this does not make logical sense, but God works beyond our logic. He does not need to be logical because He works outside our realm. Isaiah 55:8 – 9 reads, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” God does not do things conventionally. He works and moves on His terms, not ours, so when we do not fully understand how something so illogical or incredibly impossible to some is, we must be reminded of Isaiah 55:8 – 9 and that nothing is impossible with God.
Vs 38: We see Mary’s true heart and character in this verse. We see that which, I believe, makes her special and unique. She replies, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.” In her response, she acknowledges her position as a servant to God and then proclaims her faith as she submits her will and life to God. She understood what was going on. She knew her fiancé could potentially divorce her, her reputation would be marred, her son would be ridiculed and ostracized, and she knew the potential and the consequences of being accused of adultery in this Jewish society. Yet she accepted the call and submitted to God.
As we conclude this morning, may we be reminded that in this Christmas season, God showed His love to humanity by becoming a human. Let us consider Philippians 2:5 – 11. Through his incarnation, the Son gave up his “divine privileges” to become human and dwell among us. In the incarnation, he became completely dependent on His human mother as an infant and child. He was subject to death at the hands of humanity so that he may be crowned with glory and honor, and at his name, every knee shall bow in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father. Amen.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 748.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books