God Promises a Savior

The Angel Gabriel Greets Mary

Luke 1: 26-38

Introduction:

Has God ever handed you a life-changer plan? In other words, have you ever had to completely change the course of your life? It could have been circumstances that came into your life or just that small, still voice. However, it caused you to take a different course. It matters not if it was for better or if it was unpleasant (at least at the moment).

Think about that change in your life as we learn about the life changing experience of Mary. How did you react to it and how did you handle it?

Jesus’ birth foretold:

26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”

38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her (Luke 1:26-38).

Key Verse

31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 

Lessons to Remember:

  1.      Retell the incident of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to   Mary, and   
  2.      Explain how Gabriel’s message prepared Mary to accept God’s plan to be the mother of the Messiah.

Background to the Lesson

Life brings changes; that is just part of the life experience.

Often, the outcome is the result of our attitude and how we handling the change.

I know that some people do not like change. They have a very difficult time in handling change. Often, this is because change generates fear and they fear what they cannot control.  This lack of control generates great anxiety and disturbance inside of them.

The lesson this week concentrates on how a teenage girl handles an announcement from the angel, Gabriel, about the change that was about to occur in her life.

In a couple of weeks, we will study Zacharias, Elizabeth’s husband who was a priest, and how he handled the announcement from the angel, Gabriel, of the change coming in his life.

We will contrast the way they handled the coming change.

26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee,

Who is Elizabeth?

Answer: Mary’s cousin. Elizabeth was elderly and married to Zacharias, a priest in Juda. Elizabeth was barren and without children. They lived in Judah about 90 miles from Mary.

Why did Mary not know Elizabeth was six months pregnant?

Answer: Luke: 1:24-25, “24Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25”Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”

Why would God select someone from Nazareth in Galilee and not Jerusalem? Galilee did not hold high esteem in eyes of the other communities.

Nazareth: separated, generally supposed to be the Greek form of the Hebrew netser , a "shoot" or "sprout."

One conjecture holds that "Nazareth" is derived from one of the Hebrew words for 'branch', and alludes to the prophetic, messianic words in Book of Isaiah 11:1, 'from (Jesse's) roots a Branch (netzer) will bear fruit'.

No wonder Nathaniel was shocked to hear that the Messiah was coming from

Nazareth. It was the last place one would expect the Messiah to come from; “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:43-46).

What do we know about Gabriel?

Gabriel is a high-ranking angel of God. His name means man of God, which well-indicates his loyal and trusted status before The Lord. He identified himself simply as, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God." (Luke 1:19 RSV)

There are four appearances recorded in the Bible. Each time with an important prophetic message from God to these specific people –

  •   Twice to the prophet Daniel;
  •  Once to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.        To Daniel, explaining the vision of the ram and the he goat -"When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face. But he said to me, "Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end." (Daniel 8:15-17 RSV)
  • To Daniel, explaining the 70 weeks prophecy -        "while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and he said to me, "O Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding." (Daniel 9:21 RSV)

  • To Zechariah to announce the coming of John the Baptist -  "And there appeared to him an angel of The Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before The Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." And Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news." (Luke 1:11-19 RSV)
  • To Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, one of the most famous passages of The Bible -
  • "In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, The Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and The Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." (Luke 1:26-35 RSV)

27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary.

Luke introduces Mary and identifies Joseph. They are engaged to be married. At this time in history, marriage engagements carried with them a cultural contract and legal. For Joseph to break their engagement, it would have brought much dishonor on Mary. She would have been the shame of the city, disgraced and possibly stone to death.

28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!”

Why do you think Mary was favored by God?

Mary was a meditative woman. Twice we are told that she kept certain things and pondered them in her heart ( Luke 2:19, 51). The shepherds came to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, “19But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Later, Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem and Mary and Joseph found him in the Temple, “51The He went down to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.”

29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you.

What confused Mary? Here was a stranger telling she what must have been unbelievable words?

Gabriel means “man of God.” Therefore, he probably had the physical appearance of a man. Mary was probably 13 years old.

Do you think Mary was afraid at the appearance of Gabriel?

We know Daniel was and so was Zacharias?

Daniel had long served the Lord and Zacharias was an elderly priest.

Mary was approximately 13 years of age.

An important question is, “What can we learn from this child, the Bible calls her a young woman, she is 13? How can we use Mary’s example to learn to believe God and trust Him? When He comes to us to ask us to do His work, how do we react, or better yet, how should we react?”

31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.

What is the significance of Gabriel telling Mary that her baby would be named Jesus?

Unlike today, during Biblical times, a person’s name is loaded with meaning and significant. The Old Testament’s origin of Jesus’ name is found in Joshua. Joshua is derived from the Hebrew verb that means, “to save.” She knew these words were prophetic.

32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father.

1)  The Bible refers to God as great,

2)  Called the Son of the Most High, predicts the child’s    exalted status or God’s authority over all things,

3)  The throne of David, meaning the Messiah.

33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to His kingdom.”

This is further confirmation of His messianic rule. The term “Jacob’s house” refers to the house of Israel. The terms Jacob and Israel are synonymous, the people over whom the Messiah is expected to rule.

Gabriel makes it clear that His rule will be forever. There will be no line of succession following Jesus. Neither Jesus’ reign nor His kingdom will ever cease to be.

Jesus speaks of His kingdom in the presence tense and in future tense. This shows His rule is not limited to His time on earth.

 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

Can you imagine the questions that would be flying through the mind of a 13-year old girl? What question would you have asked?

Her question could have been who, what, when, where, or why. But it was not a question of doubt but of attempting to understand.

I also think it interesting that Mary did not assume that Gabriel was talking about the future child she and Joseph would have after marriage. If Mary assumed Gabriel was talking about future children with Joseph, then she would not have questioned; “I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

Mary did not have an example from the Bible that a baby had ever been given to a woman other than through sexual relations with a man.

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”

Where else have we encountered this type of wording: “The Holy Spirit will come over you?”

Acts 1:8 says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

At this point Mary does not know that her cousin, Elizabeth, is pregnant. Why?

Luke 1:24 tells us, “Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months.”

Yes, she lived approximately 90 miles away, which is a long journey in Biblical days. Being barren, wanting children, being elderly, it would be understandable that she would want to tell everyone.

38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

What did Mary do next? “With haste, she went into the hill country to the city of Judah to the house of Elizabeth and Zacharias.

At one level, God’s plans are the same for every Christian: we are to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). God calls few Christians to a specific mission. These are specified to relatively few Christians that are asked to take a spiritual machete to blaze a trail.

Lessons Learned

1.   Willingness to change our plans when God calls. Mary was engaged to Joseph and they were making their plans for the future, where to live, children, occupation and work, etc. Even though, Joseph and Mary did not know the full extent of God’s plans for them, they trusted God to guide them.

2.   Trust in God promises: At different times in our lives, we all are called by God to trust His plans and promises. When changes come about, there will be parts of the plan we understand and parts of the plan we do not understand. The challenge is to trust when our understanding is incomplete.

3.   When we do, we change forever. When we agree to be part of God’s “adventure,” we will not be taking the journey alone. He will be with us every step of the way.