Luke 1:26-38 - Controversial Since Day 1
Jesus Christ has been controversial since the moment He was conceived.
Read / Listen
Read Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 35
Q. What does it mean that he
“was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary”?
A. That the eternal Son of God,
who is and remains
true and eternal God,
took to himself,
through the working of the Holy Spirit,
from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,
a truly human nature
so that he might become David’s true descendant,
like his brothers in every way except for sin.
Imagine how terrified Mary, probably 11 or 12 years old here, felt when Gabriel, one of God's chief angels, appeared before her. Luke, who is somewhat known for his dry sense of humor in how he reported the facts in his gospel and the book of Acts, writes that Mary was 'greatly troubled' and that she 'wondered what kind of greeting this might be.' I'll bet she wondered!
My guess is that Gabriel's announcement that she was 'highly favored' and that the 'Lord is with you' didn't immediately take root in her mind. She was probably too flabbergasted for it to register.
But as if those opening announcements weren't shocking enough, the next thing Gabriel said would have pushed most people completely over the edge. Mary would bear a child - but not just an ordinary child - one who would be called 'the Son of the Most High.'
Somehow Mary is able to gather her wits at this point and push back on Gabriel a bit. Everything she'd been taught about the birds and the bees argued against what she was being told. She was a virgin, and this sort of thing doesn't happen to girls like her!
Gabriel's reply probably made sense to him, but imagine what it would be like for Mary to hear that she would become pregnant when the power of the Holy Spirit of the Most High would overshadowed her. I wonder, did those words comfort her or terrify her more?
But Gabriel still has one more shock for Mary. It turns out that barren old Aunt Elizabeth had been pregnant for six months now.
The doctrine of the virgin birth is one of the most doubted and disbelieved in all of Christian history. Some people have denied it because they deny all of the supernatural and miraculous claims the Bible makes, but others seem to be willing to accept many of the Bible's miracles, but draw the line at a virgin conceiving a child.
No doubt young Mary struggled with these doubts as well. Think of how she must of tossed and turned at night wondering who in the world would believe her story. It was even too much for Joseph, until Gabriel showed up to set him straight at least.
As we're going to see this week, the doctrine of the virgin birth is not just some Biblical oddity that you can take or leave. In fact, your entire salvation depends on this bizarre sounding account being true.
Mary's resolve seems to strengthen upon hearing the last thing Gabriel said to her:
For no word from God will ever fail (v37)
Look at how Mary aligns her life with God's will after hearing this. "I am the Lord's servant," she said. Make sure your life models Mary's faithfulness, even when God's will seems shocking or contrary to everything you thought you knew.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, whose will often looks so different than what we expect.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray the words Mary prays upon hearing this shocking news: "May your word to me be fulfilled."
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - James 3