Scripture: Luke 1:26-38, Announcement of Jesus' Birth
29 But when she saw him,[b] she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Discussion and Notes
It takes boldness to believe God, to believe what He is doing in their lives. It requires boldness in all of us. Some people don't think it does but it does.
Gabriel went to the town of Nazareth to Mary. Nazareth had a reputation.
John 1:45-46, "45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.'" Have you ever heard of towns like that? Or perhaps you've lived in one.
The angel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." "Favored" in the Greek is the root word for "grace" - literally, God has seen you and is bestowing grace on you. It's a similar word for "blessed." God has endowed grace upon you.
She's troubled, probably thinking, what do I don't know that I need to know here? It's kind of like when someone says to you, "We have to talk," but doesn't say why. Mary had no idea why the angel was saying this to her at first. She knew the prophecies. Mary knew that God spoke in the past and believed His Words. If we believe that, we believe it has legitimacy for us. The name "Jesus" means "salvation."
"Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
2 The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;[a]
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
5 For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
~ Is. 9:1-7
Luke repeatedly emphasizes the virgin status of Mary. As a physician, this likely fascinated him. Bold faith believes God honors His word and keeps His promises. We know what science says, that this is impossible. Though Luke was a doctor, he doesn't try to explain it. If we believe in a God who set the laws of the universe in motion, is He not big enough to interrupt those laws? It's not a matter of will science be able to explain faith. As the Lord told Job, when He spoke to him, essentially, "Your mind wouldn't comprehend the answer even if I gave it to you."
Mary asks how will this be? Is she having a crisis of faith? Zacharias asks for a sign. Mary is asking something else - she is asking an intellectual question. How is this going to happen? God surprises us. He's not moving in the same way as with John. Mary knew that if she was found with child while engaged, she'd be thought to be unfaithful. She'd be in tremendous disgrace. No one would would believe her about what happened. In those days, women who were unfaithful to their engagements could legitimately be stoned by law.
Bold faith takes risks.
Joseph at first did think that she had been unfaithful. Perhaps she told him about the angel and he thought she was crazy. But then God came to him in a dream and told him it was true and what to do about it. So he believed God, and obeyed him.
Matthew 1:18-25, "18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His nameJesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.[d] And he called His name Jesus."
Can you imagine it? They two we're probably the only ones who could relate to each other and knew what had really happened for many years, until Jesus grew up. They had to bear the disgrace of Mary's untimely and unexplained pregnancy. Jesus still carried this stigma later in life.
John 8:39-41, "39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
The Lord fulfills His Word. It takes a bold faith to trust him for that. It takes a bold faith to take risks! For Mary especially this was RISKY. This could cost her her life. The marriage could be called off. Her parents might reject her. She risked their wrath, the she had ruined everything for them. After years and years we know how the story turns out. But, we have to see the risk that Mary is taking. She didn't know. It took bold faith for her to step out and believe that God was going to keep His promises.
The Holy Spirit breaths God's Word. In John Piper's book Risk is Right, he makes this profound statment: "We either waste our life or risk our life."
The book of Esther is another example. Esther became queen. She could not go before the king unless he summoned her. If she did so and the king didn't raise his golden scepter toward her, she would die. But when the fate of the Jews was at stake, she chose to take a risk.
Esther 4:10-16, "10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai; 11 All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. 12 And they told to Mordecai Esther's words. 13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? 15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."
"If I perish, I perish." That's what it looks like to take risk.
Everyone in the NT was called to a "death." Disciples had to risk. Paul had to risk. Paul never knew were the next blow would come from. Safety is a mirage. It didn't exist for the apostle Paul.
2 Corinthians 11:16-33, "16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! 20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, inperils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, inperils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands."
We work for control and comfort, for safety and security. We've missed what the NT says - that following Christ is safe is not a Biblical teaching. There is nothing safe about Mary's life or the apostle Paul's. In the kingdom of God, risk is right. What risk are we taking to advance the kingdom of God?
It is said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." We don't know what will happen tomorrow. Control is an illusion. We will have to be willing to let go of what makes us comfortable and secure at times, to risk great things in the kingdom of God.
What is the risk God is calling you to? Every one of those people who risked saw something of greater value in their risk than in their safety. He may be calling you to risk everything you saw as value, for His kingdom.
My Own Thoughts, in Brief
Romans 9:19-21, "19 You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?' 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?"
Perhaps someday, I won't feel as alone in it. However, I've found it to be very true what the Lord said - I always have Him and He never goes away. That's just so wonderful to me and always will be.