Luke wrote to Theophilus, “so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed” (Luke 1.4). Based on Luke’s message, this friend of God would be helped to rely more fully on the Lord.
Luke records different responses to God’s intervention in the world. Faith, unbelief, awe, fear, anger, and opposition are some of the ways people responded to God’s saving activity.
Mary is one of the best examples of responding in faith.
Mary’s Response of Faith
The angel, Gabriel, told Mary that she would carry a child, whose name meant “Jehovah saves.”
Mary didn’t act with the unbelief of Zechariah, but did need to understand what God was doing. She said, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1.34).
Many years ago, I sought to understand the subject of faith and doubt. Soren Kierkegaard wrote an interesting narrative about the time God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.
Kierkegaard elaborately delved into what he imagined to be the inner thoughts of the patriarch, as father and son traveled to Mount Moriah during a three-day journey.
The thought from Kierkegaard about faith and doubt that remains with me to this day is: Faith is not the absence of doubt. It is going on with God in spite of doubts.
Both Zechariah and Mary followed God, even though they had to overcome surprise, doubt, and puzzlement.
The angel answered Mary’s question and said, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God” (Luke 1.35).
Jesus was the Son of God, because his birth came from the overwhelming power of God. The Holy Spirit was the agent of that activity.
The work of the Holy Spirit throughout Luke prepares us for Jesus’ message to his disciples after the resurrection.
He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).
We are right to marvel at the beautiful story of God’s dealings with Mary. Let’s not overlook that God wants to “come upon” us and empower us to be his witnesses.
The Holy Spirit is available to us to gift, comfort, guide, and enable us in many ways. We are missing one of God’s greatest gifts, if we do not recognize and embrace the Spirit’s work in our lives.
A Sign of God’s Intervention
Gabriel was instructed to provide a sign to Mary to authenticate his message.
He told Mary, “And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1.36-37).
Mary lived about 70 miles from Zechariah and Elizabeth, and hadn’t been informed of the miraculous conception.
Gabriel’s declaration of God’s power is similar to a message the Sarah received, when she learned the would give birth to a son in her old age. God’s message to Sarah was, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” (Genesis 18.14).
His encouragement to a teenage girl, Mary, was “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
God’s work with the heroes of the faith should build our faith. God’s power is absolute and his love is abounding. We can fully trust him to fulfill his promises.
Mary’s Response and Prayer
Mary’s response to Gabriel is a perfect prayer. Let’s join Mary and tell this to God: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1.38).
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Rudy Ross and I discuss this Bible passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Please take 10-12 minutes to listen to our discussion. Rudy has spent 30 years diligently studying the Bible. You will benefit from his insights.