Mary Encounters Gabriel Regarding Jesus
The stage for the Messiah was set. Four hundred years had passed since the last of the Old Testament prophets had spoken to Israel on God’s behalf. In that time, the world had undergone cataclysmic change. Alexander the Great brought Hellenization to the known world, and the Jewish remnant in Palestine was clinging desperately to its identity. The followers of Yahweh desperately longed for the Savior. They thought their King would rise to liberate and conquer as David did centuries earlier.
The King did come into the world, but it was not as expected.
who was the girl mary?
Mary was a young girl looking forward to married life. Her betrothed was Joseph, a carpenter and a normal man with a great ancestry (Luke 1:27). She was living in Nazareth awaiting her wedding day when she was visited by a most unlikely messenger of God.
who was the angel gabriel?
Only two angels in Scripture are named. The first, Michael, is named by Daniel (Daniel 10:13; 21). There is no biblical record of Michael ever speaking to humankind or interacting with them directly. The other named angel is Gabriel. He was the messenger of God sent to Daniel to explain the vision of the ram and the goat (Daniel 8:16) and he communicated the prophecy of the seventy weeks (Daniel 9:21–27). He appeared to the priest Zechariah in the holy place of the temple to tell of the coming birth of John the Baptist and herald him as the forerunner for the Messiah (Luke 1:11–20).
The only other person that Gabriel visited and spoke to was Mary (1:26). We should not miss the significance of this. The angel who stands “in the presence of God” (1:19) came to a young single girl at God’s command to deliver an astounding message: she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. How would you respond to such a visitor? Would you fear as Mary did?
mary hears gabriel's message about jesus
Mary was astounded by Gabriel’s visit, but she was also “greatly troubled” (Luke 1:29) for she could not fathom the reason a messenger of God would come to her. But she would soon find out that the message was even more fantastic than the messenger. She would conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus. This would seem reasonable enough for a girl about to be married, but Mary clearly understood the immediacy of God’s timing, for she asked the angel, “how will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v. 34). When the angel described that her child would be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that the child would be holy, set apart as the “Son of the Most High” (v. 32) we can imagine Mary’s struggle with disbelief. She was told that her son would take the throne of David and reign over Israel for eternity (v. 33)! This was the Messiah whose arrival her people had been awaiting for centuries! Prophets of Yahweh had spoken of this moment and of this king! Both the temple and the holy city of Jerusalem had been fought for, rebuilt, and preserved specifically for her son! It did not seem possible, yet the angel reassured her that “nothing will be impossible with God” (v. 37).
We should pause here and consider Mary’s predicament. Undoubtedly, she wrestled with the unlikelihood of it all. Was she dreaming? Was all this real? Could it be true?
Would you have taken God at His word?
mary's response to gabriel's message
Mary did. Her response was both simple and beautiful: “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NET). In that defining moment, she simply believed and obeyed by accepting God’s call on her life. She did not require a sign from God or further explanation. She heard the words of God spoken through His messenger, and she believed.
When we are faced with the choice to believe in the word of God or not, which path will we choose? Will we cater to our doubts, submit to disbelief, and choose our own way . . . or will our belief in Christ motivate us to obey and follow Him into uncharted waters? May we choose the path of Mary, who entrusted herself to God and simply believed.