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The Birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38)



Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

 

Luke begins this section of the text with a connection to the previous narrative. Notice that Luke is not telling us to look at the 6th month of the year (as June would be to us), but he is asking us to look at the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John (See verses 24 and 36).


Gabriel is at work once again, following the orders of God, in delivering news about the birth of a child. But this is not just any child, this is the Son of God, whose coming is about to be announced. Gabriel was sent to the city of Nazareth to speak this message of favor to Mary.


Mary is described here as a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph. A virgin has been sexually pure. Although engaged (betrothed) to Joseph, Mary,, and Joseph weren’t doing what the modern world calls, “trying it before buying it”. In other words, there was no living together, sleeping together, and being sexually intimate together until marriage. When God told Gabriel to go meet with Mary she was completely chaste and pure with regards to knowing a man sexually. Mary was a young Hebrew woman who was also a descendant of David (see verses 32 and 69) who was about to be blessed by God. Her lineage to David has a great deal to do with the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah.


Perhaps a message to our young people should be, that God is looking to bless those who will remain pure until marriage or, if they choose not to marry, they must remain pure for the rest of their life. Sexual involvement is to be kept for marriage (between a man and a woman) and is not for those who are outside of a God-ordained marriage. Many young people have regretted the poor choices they have made regarding sexual impurity when they face their spouse-to-be and tell them that they are not the first one they have been with sexually. This is very difficult.


Joseph was a descendant of David, which tells us how he tied to the promise of the Messiah taking over the throne of David. We should not be surprised that God chose to bless Mary and Joseph in this way since all of the promises of the Messiah lead to a Davidic ruler whose kingdom will not end (More on that later).

 

And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord {is} with you." But she was very perplexed at {this} statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus."

 

The angel Gabriel obeyed God and was seen in Nazareth, coming into the house where Mary was staying. He began his message by saying, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord {is} with you.” The first lesson we can take from this is that we need to obey God and bring good news to others as well (Matt. 28:18-20). Indeed all of those for whom Christ died are favored ones in God’s sight and it is our responsibility to tell them how the Lord is with them and wants to give them the many blessings that are found in having His Son as a Savior.


Mary’s response was similar to Zechariah’s in the previous section of this chapter. She was perplexed by the presence and the message of the angel. The only difference is that she considered it and eventually believed the good news that came to her.


Perhaps we should ask ourselves how we respond when the Lord’s good news comes to our ears. The news may come through a dear friend, a gospel preacher, a relative, or another faithful brother or sister in the Lord. How will you respond? What about your response even to this message?


The angel responded to Mary after she was troubled by the strange nature of his appearance, saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” Like the angel Gabriel had comforted Zechariah, now here, he comforts Mary. He tells her that there is no need to be afraid, God is going to bless her because of the favor she had found with Him. The text “blessed are you among woman” was not found in the oldest original documents of this text and this is not a support for any of the false teachings upholding the exaltation of Mary to a place of veneration, honor, and praise. This simply means that she was to be the happiest of all women. Some translations have included this phrase since they did not have some of the earlier documents that removed its presence from the text of scripture. While she was indeed blessed, the text is faulty and misleading, since God shows no partiality with mankind. All mankind is to bring their honor and praise to God above. Even though we will see this text later…it is not to be included here.


Gabriel also tells her of the blessings coming her way saying, "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” Just as the angel spoke the promise of a coming child to Elizabeth, through Zecahariah, so here he promises a child to her cousin Mary. This child was also given a name from God on high. She was told that she was to name the child that she would conceive, Jesus. The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew “Jehshua”, meaning, “the salvation of Jehovah”. Indeed, Mary was about to give birth to Jesus, the Savior of the world. I can’t even begin to imagine the feelings that Mary had at this time. The long-awaited Messiah was coming…and His entrance into the world would be through her womb. Jesus was becoming flesh to dwell among us, and then ultimately, die for the sins of the world as our Savior.

 

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

 

The description of Jesus is one of greatness as He will be called the “Son of the Highest (Most High)”. There is no other name that could have been given to Him (Phil. 2:8-11). He would be a King as God would give Him, “the throne of His father David”. He was promised to reign over Israel forever and that His kingship and His kingdom would never end. What a blessing, not only to give birth to a son as a gift from the Lord but to give birth to the “Son of the Highest (Most High)”.


Some have questioned whether Mary is from the royal Davidic lineage since she seems to be living in poverty all of her life and the fact that the text nowhere states it plainly. But as a psalmist wrote long ago, we see something that would lead us to believe that she was from the lineage of David.


It is written in Psalm 132:10-18, “For the sake of David your servant, do not turn away the face of your anointed. The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne (See “fruit of your womb” in Luke 1:42). If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I will teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever. For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy with bread. Her priests also I will clothe with salvation, and her godly ones will sing aloud for joy. There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon himself his crown shall shine" (Compare with “horn of David” in Luke 1:69; I Sam. 2:10; See also I Kings 9:1-5; II Chron. 6:16; Dan. 2:44).


John (who is the son of Elizabeth, yet to be born), would announce the kingdom of the Lord when he entered his service as a forerunner to the Messiah. This kingdom would be the church of the Lord, Jesus Christ and it would never come to an end (Matt. 16:18-19). The Lord’s church continues from the time it was established, until today, and all who will come in obedience to the Lord can be a part of this body entering into eternity (See Acts 2:36-40, 47) Many other kingdoms will try to be established between now and the Lord’s second coming, but they will not stand. Only Christ’s glorious kingdom has this assurance. Are you a part of the kingdom (church) today in Christ? If not, why not? (Read Dan. 7:13-14)


The Israel of God was much more grand than the Jews had ever anticipated, as under the new covenant of Jesus, the Jews and Gentiles would come together to become one people before the Lord. Those who obeyed Him would be saved while those who disobeyed would be lost. (See Gal. 6:15-16; Isaiah 2:1-3).

 

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God."

 

Instead of doubting, Mary had an honest question for the angel Gabriel. Since life is only conceived when a man and a woman are together in sexual relations, how is this birth going to happen since I am a virgin? Logical question! Gabriel’s answer demonstrates the power of God over nature itself. He said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”


This birth of Jesus was going to be a miraculous virgin birth and God was the miracle worker. He would send the Holy Spirit on Mary and the power of God Himself would overshadow her. This birth would be blessed and sanctified by God so that His only begotten Son could be born by Divine intervention (Heb. 10:5).


The virgin birth has been questioned due to a lack of faith on the part of many students of the Bible. Not only does the Bible predict it in Old Testament prophecy, but also, that is exactly how it unfolds in the New Testament. Those who question the virgin birth have tried to claim that Jesus was indeed the son of Joseph through natural childbirth. Some have even said that Mary was a harlot and she was found pregnant, and therefore had a son, whom God told her to call Jesus. (See Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7)


But who cares what others say? The Bible teaches a virgin birth and that is why we believe it. Some have tried to use the Bible to prove their stance against the virgin birth. One favorite is arguing that since Matthew’s genealogy traces Joseph’s lineage, then he must have been the birth father. Another is that Luke 2:48, records Mary calling Joseph the father of Jesus, and therefore, it must be true. Remember that nothing is contradictory in scripture, including the story of the birth of Christ. If God reveals to us that He is the Father of Jesus, we have no right to assume or teach anything differently. The Bible tells us that Mary was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus, as we will see later. Joseph was called by God to step in and take on the role of Mary’s spouse even though she was with child by the Holy Spirit (See Matt. 1:18-25)


The Holy Spirit’s work in this text was not to give Divine approval to some preconception between Mary and another man, but rather the Holy Spirit from God would cause her to bear a Son and He would be the Son of God Most High. Why is it so difficult for people to believe that the One who created us from dust, couldn’t cause Mary to have a child, who would be the Son of God?

 

"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God."

 

A “behold” grabs the attention of Mary as more good news is on the way. The angel tells Mary,  “Your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month”


It is always wonderful news when we hear of a friend or relative who is going to have a child. While we are not certain about the relationship that Mary and Elizabeth shared, we do know that the word about her pregnancy was a joyous message to Mary. Her “cousin” (as it has been suspected) would no longer be barren in her old age, but God was looking upon her with favor as well.


Maybe a lesson we can take from this, is that we need to rejoice with one another more often. Is it going to take an angel to reveal where we have had great things happen in our lives, or are we close enough as the family of God to share these things ourselves? Perhaps we can say the same thing about mourning or weeping (See Rom. 12:15). Are we there for one another during these vital times?

 

When God is working in our lives, we need to understand the truth that is spoken in verse 37, “For nothing will be impossible with God." We have seen God bless a barren woman in her old age with a child and we have seen God overcome nature to cause a young virgin to conceive in her womb and carry His only begotten Son. While most people stand back and say, that is impossible, we see very clearly that “nothing”, and I repeat, “Nothing will be impossible with God”. QUESTION: What is going on in your life that you just think is impossible? Are you with God? Are you in a good relationship with Him? If so, nothing is impossible to you (Phil. 4:13; Eph. 3:20-21). You have access to the very Creator of the world and the One who can change and control every moment of your life. Why do people doubt God and question his ability, when He can do all things by His magnificent power?


The next time that God calls on you to trust Him and do His will, don’t question Him, just obey and receive His blessings. So many people go without the blessings of God because of doubt and distrust. What about you?

 

And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.”

Luke concludes this section of the 1st chapter of his gospel, by recording the words of Mary in response to all that has happened. She said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."


Since the words of the angel, were the word of God, this comment by Mary is such a profound statement of faith. Mary acknowledged her place as a “bondslave” of God Himself and humbled herself under His mighty hand as he exalted her.  She wanted God to do His will throughout her life and accepted what He had in store for her. We desperately need this attitude in the world today. When the gospel message is sounded, and people hear the word of God, what is the general response today? Better yet, as we discuss the coming of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, what will your response be? As you hear the word of God through Christ Jesus, what will you do with these words? Will you say, “May it be done to me according to your word.” (See John 12:47-50)


I know that sometimes obedience to God requires us to make uneasy decisions. Think about what Mary risked. She risked disgrace from her fellow citizens and separation from the man she was to be married to. Mary was willing to risk a lot to obey the commands of God, and she was blessed in the end.


In Romans 6:16-23, Paul wrote about this concept, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone {as} slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in {further} lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Who are you obeying today? Are you willing to become a faithful servant of the Lord? Would you acknowledge by your admission that you are “the bondslave of the Lord”? If you need help, don’t delay obedience to the Lord today. God has given us a Son, His only Son, and it is through Him that we can be saved. 

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