Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee. The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary.
When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said, “You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.”
She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant.
The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.
You will become pregnant, give birth to a son,
and name him Jesus.
He will be a great man
and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his ancestor David.
Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever,
and his kingdom will never end.”
Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.”
The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God. Elizabeth, your relative, is six months pregnant with a son in her old age. People said she couldn’t have a child. But nothing is impossible for God.”
Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.”
Then the angel left her.
Questions for Children:
Gabriel is the first to announce the Promised Son’s name. What will it be?
How does Mary’s response to Gabriel differ from Zechariah’s?
Explanation and Meditation:
Today’s reading picks up right where we left off yesterday. Gabriel is going to make another visit and announce the coming birth of another baby boy. But first, Luke (the author) records two details that those familiar with the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah would notice. With his mention of Galilee (see Isaiah 9) and David’s line (see II Samuel 7:11-14), he is foreshadowing the astonishing news he is about to deliver to a young Jewish woman who is anticipating her upcoming wedding.
Mary’s response is recorded side by side with Zechariah’s for a reason. We’re meant to compare the two. Zechariah responded with fear and disbelief. Mary responds with surprise, but also with faith. Here she is in all the excitement of wedding preparations when she gets this startling (and likely terrifying) visitation from a magnificent creature straight from the throne room of God. Years later, when faced with the same majesty, the apostle John would fall down in worship. In his shock and fear he’d momentarily forget that though the angel was indeed magnificent, his Creator was much more magnificent still and the only one worthy of worship. But not Mary. She kept her composure in this moment even as her mind raced to make sense of this greeting of favor from God. Her first question–so innocent and so reasonable–is answered gently by the angel. There is no rebuke in his words. And as Mary begins to understand the message, her response is belief and happy obedience. She must have realized what this could mean for her personally–social stigma as well as a possible dissolution of her engagement–but so great was her faith in God that she delighted in being part of his glorious plan to restore her people. And that time was fast approaching. Mary would give birth to the Promised Son. And it was Mary who first heard his name. Jesus!