The Real Mary: The Willing Servant
It is not a regular practice for a Baptist Church to, or better yet, an evangelical Pastor to preach a series on the Virgin Mary. I would be willing to bet that even mentioning the words “The Virgin Mary” you already have some mental picture or association of her, and it probably is not a positive one. There are many reasons why evangelicals do not talk much about Mary.
However, when you look at the Protestant and the Catholic views of Mary you will see that both have a misunderstanding of who she is. One side does not appreciate or revere her enough and the other appreciates and reveres her too much. My hope for this series is to gain a proper and biblical view and understanding of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think it is time for us to be honest in our perception of Mary. We do know that she is a special woman. She is the mother of Jesus. She is the one God chose to bring the Savior of all into this world. However, Mary cannot save us, but she can point us to the Savior.
In this four-week series my prayer and goal is to look at who Mary is and what she represents to us as Christians. In this series we will look at Mary the willing servant, the worshiping follower, the caring mother, and the courageous woman. It is time we gain a proper and biblical perspective of Mary the mother of Jesus.
Mary the Willing Servant
Luke 1:26 - 38
Vs 26: “In the sixth month”- This is 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 referred to as one of four chief angels (Raphael, Uriel, and Michael). In these writings he 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 Gabriel is God’s messenger to execute 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 to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, in the previous verses to give him the message that Elizabeth is pregnant with a son. Six months later he appears to Mary to tell her she will give birth to Jesus Christ.
Nazareth is a small town about 70 miles north of Jerusalem. It is surrounded by three sides of a hill making it a town located in a valley. Trade routes would pass nearby the town, but never through it. The town lays outside of regular Jewish life, so it was not a city that was viewed as favorable. Nazareth is the place where Jesus grew up.
Vs 27: “To a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph” – The word virgin is the Greek word Parthenos which means an unmarried virgin female of marriageable age. Both Matthew and Luke state that the young girl was a virgin at conception and remained a virgin through carrying Jesus to full term.
She was engaged to Joseph who was “of the house of David”. This is significant because this was a clan who was in the tribe of Judah, and we are told in the prophecies of the Messiah, that he would come from the lineage of David.
Vs 28: “Greetings favored woman!!” God has chosen Mary specifically. She is the direct recipient of God’s grace, not the bestower. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates there was something 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 did not favor her because of some special trait or ability. He 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. The only thing I can equate this with is that sinking feeling one gets when a boss, supervisor, or a leader calls and says, “Hey Jeff, can you come to my office later today? I would like to talk to you about something.” It is in these moments that the mind starts to race, and you think, “He wants me to come into work on Saturday” or “Did I do something wrong?” or worse, “Am I going to get fired? Can’t he just tell me what he needs now?”
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 a vessel through whom he works to bring about His will of redemption.
Vs 31: “Listen” – The Angel tells her why she is highly favored. His wording is remarkably similar to the prophetic “virgin” passage found in Isaiah 7:14. She is going to conceive a child, a boy, and his name is going to be Jesus. The name Jesus was a common name in the OT and it remained a popular name through the first century. We see from Matthew 1:21 the meaning of his name indicates that he will save people from their sins. The Greek form of the name Iēsous, which translated into Latin is Jesus, is the same as the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua), which means “Yahweh saves” (Yahweh is typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT).
Vs 32 – 33: The angel continues to proclaim the destiny, if you will, of her son. He will be called the son of the Most High, He will be the Son of God. He will be a King, like David over the house of Jacob, thus pointing to his relationship with Israel. He will reign as King forever because his Kingdom will remain forever. All 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 obviously Mary was betrothed to be engaged and having a child after she was married is certainly not out of the question. All Mary knew so far was she was going to have a child someday. Up to this point the angel did not give clarification as to how or when the pregnancy was going to 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.
Vs 35: For whatever reason Mary questioned the angel, and he responded with an unusual answer. He indicates that this will not be an average pregnancy and birth. First, she will not conceive by natural means. She will conceive supernaturally by the Most High. “The Most High will overshadow you.” The word for “overshadow” (episkiazō) 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.” When reading this account, to the human mind it does not make logical sense at all, but God works beyond our logic. He does not need to be logical in his workings because He works outside of our realm. Once again as I have shared many times Isaiah 55:8 – 9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God does not need to 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 need to be reminded of Isaiah 55:8 – 9 and that nothing is impossible with God.
Vs 38: We now see Mary’s true heart and character. 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 have looked today at this marvelous encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel we can look at the crux of what transpires and ask ourselves what can we learn from this encounter?
 Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
 Liefeld, W. L. (1984). Luke. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, pp. 831–832). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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