Put yourself in Mary’s shoes. She was between 12 and 14 years old and engaged to Joseph.
This situation seems strange in 2021 but was common in the first century. An engaged woman stayed with her family and waited until the day she joined her husband in his home, making the marriage complete.
From Mary’s perspective, hers was an unplanned teen pregnancy. On the other hand, God’s plan was to use Mary as the vessel for the Son of God to be born.
The Holy Spirit revealed to Paul the full import of God’s plan and he wrote to the Galatians about its fulfillment.
— Galatians 4.4-7 – But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
The visit by the angel Gabriel took place in the fullness of time. We are recipients of God’s blessings, because of God’s grace and Mary’s cooperation.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s see how Mary experienced the news that she would become pregnant.
God Reveals His Plan
You will recall that Elizabeth conceived and Luke dated another visitation of Gabriel at the sixth month of her pregnancy.
— Luke 1.26-28 – In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
The meeting with Mary was quite different from the one with Zechariah.
— Zechariah had the status of a priest, who was serving in the Temple.
— Mary was a teenage girl, who had no status or importance at all.
— The Temple in Jerusalem was the designated place where God met with humans. If God were to meet a person, it was expected that it would be a priest in the Temple.
— Nathanael expressed a common understanding when he said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1.46). The angel’s visit to Nazareth was definitely an unusual turn of events.
— God gave his favor to one who had no claim to worthy status and raised her up from a position of lowliness.
What God did with Mary will be a constant theme in Luke’s Gospel. Emperors, kings, and religious authorities are overlooked, while a teenage girl and others like her are highly valued.
We need to be careful to align ourselves with how God values other people.
Imagine a 12 to 14 year-old girl who has just encountered an angel. Being “perplexed” and “pondering” the event is an understated way of describing an awesome event.
— Luke 1.29-33 – But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Gabriel’s description of Jesus’ mission is a fulfillment of what God promised to David and through Isaiah and Daniel.
As we read Luke’s Gospel, we will unpack the meaning of the titles that the angel gave Mary’s child. Here is a summary:
— His name, Jesus, defines his mission. Jesus means “Jehovah saves.”
— Through Jesus, God has fulfilled his commitment to David (see 2 Samuel 7:11-16).
— As the Son of God, Jesus will inaugurate God’s kingdom.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7.14)
Dear God, thank you that you accomplish your plans through ordinary people. Please help us to be vessels that you can use for purposes.
Rudy Ross is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. Please take a few minutes to listen to a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy adds many insights that are not in this article. The video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.