The Messiah’s Mother: Luke 1:26-38

Focus Passage: Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

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.

Read Luke 1:26-38 in context and/or in other translations on!

When reading the first chapter in Luke, almost immediately we learn about two individuals who question God’s message to them through the angel. What strikes me as odd about this is the response given to each is almost polar opposite. The first visit was to Zechariah the priest, and when he questioned the angel, the response was being struck mute until the child would be born.

But just a few verses later, in the passage we are focusing on, Mary asks almost the same question, but she receives no rebuke or punishment.

This makes me wonder if we can see clues to the character of these two individuals hidden within the question. Zechariah’s question is found in verse 18, and he asks, “How can I be sure of this?” before following it up with the reason that he and his wife are old.

In contrast, Mary asks in verse 34, “How will this be?” and she follows up with the reason that she is still a virgin.

But in these two questions, we actually see a clear difference. In Zechariah’s case, it is almost like he is demanding a sign above and beyond simply having a conversation with the angel. And the angel is happy to help supply him with a sign that was effective and one he did not expect.

Mary’s question is a little different. In her question, we see her asking as a way to clarify what the next step is. It is almost like Mary is saying, “This sounds good. However, I am engaged to Joseph, I am still a virgin, and we are going to be married before any pregnancy could run its full term. Is this Messiah going to be from my marriage with Joseph, or do you mean something different when you say ‘He will be called the Son of the Most High’?” (v. 32)

We really get a picture of Mary’s character when we look at her closing words before the angel leaves. She finishes by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (v. 38)

Mary is willing to go through with this plan because she is willing to step into God’s plan for her life. In her response to the angel’s message, we see an incredible example of faith and trust in God. While Mary had no idea what the future would hold, she is willing to play a role in God’s great story and she steps into what many might call “the greatest role in the history of the world” as a humble servant of God.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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