The Holy Spirit moved Luke to record the purpose for which his gospel was written: that we might know with certainty of the things which we have been instructed concerning Christ (1:4). As believers read the verses before us, the still, quiet urgings of the Holy Spirit of God speaks and moves us toward the inescapable conclusion that Jesus is, indeed, the One promised from the beginning.
The angel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth (v. 26) — not the place which the scriptures declare that the Promised One should be born (see Micah 5:2); and not a place which one would expect to find many of the lineage of David (see II Sam. 7:12). The Lord chooses to do the unlikely. He chooses the weak to defeat the strong; He chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (I Cor. 1:27).
The angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, a virgin, who was engaged to Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel told Mary that she had been blessed and would conceive a son whose name would be JESUS. Jesus would be called the Son of the most High and would sit upon the throne of his father David.
The first thing which we note concerning Mary is that she was a virgin (v. 27). Seven hundred years earlier, the prophet Isaiah declared that a virgin should conceive (Isa. 7:14). Mary was the virgin of whom the prophet spoke. Christians of today are very familiar with Isaiah 7:14; it is a verse which often appears upon Bible verse Christmas cards. Far fewer Christians realize that the words of Isaiah 7:14 were a sign given to the wicked and unbelieving King Ahaz. The virgin birth was a sign given to an unbelieving king who would never see its fulfillment. Surely, God, in His omniscience, knew that the sign of the virgin birth would not be seen until a distant future time. Why such a sign to Ahaz? Ahaz represented not just himself, but all unbelievers. The virgin birth was a sign that would be given to an unbelieving world. Jesus’ virgin birth is rejected by unbelievers of today and was rejected by the unbelievers of His day. The virgin birth is a sign of certainty only to them who believe. We can be confident that Jesus is the promised Messiah because He satisfies every requirement of God’s word.
The mystery of Genesis 3:15 is resolved by the virgin birth. In this verse God states that the seed (a word of the masculine gender) of woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. The word “seed” must have a masculine origin. In child birth, Eve bore the seed of Adam. Only one born of a virgin can be the promised seed of woman. Christ is the promised seed who would destroy the head (the power) of the serpent when He was bruised for our sins upon the cross.
Mary’s child was to be called, “Jesus.” This name means “Savior.” This name was not selected, by Mary or her espoused husband Joseph; it was specified by Gabriel who stands in the very presence of God. The prophet Isaiah specified that the Messiah, the one born of a virgin, would be called Immanuel, meaning God with us. Gabriel, in stating that Jesus would be called the son of the Highest, identified Jesus as Immanuel.
Bible believers of the present day know that Jesus shall return to rule the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem after a seven year tribulation period. The first century Christians who read the gospel of Luke would have instantly realized that the One who was nailed to the cross at Calvary never sat upon the throne of David. How then can Gabriel’s statement of verse 32 lead one to “know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed” (1:4)? It would not unless early converts were taught from the start that Jesus would return to rule from the throne of David. Indeed, this is the case. The Apostle Paul found it necessary to correct the Thessalonians because they were sitting and waiting upon His return rather than presenting themselves as a living sacrifice, a reasonable service to their Savior.
Mary was overwhelmed and confused by Gabriel’s greeting. She was even more perplexed when Gabriel informed her that she would conceive and bear a son. She asked, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”. Gabriel’s answer can be paraphrased in five words: God will make it happen. With God, nothing is impossible.
God could have caused all of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the coming of His Son to be fulfilled without informing Mary of the role that she would fill. God sent Gabriel to deliver the message that the “holy thing” which Mary would bear would be of God and it “shall be called the Son of God” (v. 35) so that all believers might know with absolute certainty that Jesus is the Promised One. God desires that we be confident possessors of His truth.
It was for this cause that Gabriel announced to Mary that her cousin Elisabeth (her aged and barren cousin Elisabeth) was in the sixth month of pregnancy. Mary responded to Gabriel’s message with the words, “. . . be it unto me according to thy word.”
Mary then went with haste to Elisabeth. Elisabeth dwelt in a city of the hill country of Juda (v. 39). The hill country of Juda is 37 miles in length extending from Jerusalem to past Hebron in the south. It may have required a full week to travel from Nazareth to the city where Elisabeth lived.
Mary did not doubt the words which Gabriel delivered. She left in haste so that she might share the good news which Gabriel had delivered.
All believers are, like Mary, possessors of good news that the Lord would have us share. Let us boldly proclaim Christ to others.