The Foretelling of Jesus Birth
Luke 1:26-38 – July 04, 2021
26 – In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
Nazareth was a town located a few miles west of the Sea of Galilee. There is a great deal of prophecy coming to be in Jesus’ birth and Mary’s pregnancy and even the town of Nazareth has prophetic significance. Isaiah 11:1-2a, A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him. The word branch is the Hebrew neser or Netzer from which later the name Nazareth would come. Mal Couch writes, During the time of Isaiah there was no city Nazareth. Obviously, the Lord in His providence was bringing about a divine connection between the work “branch” and the later city of Nazareth! It is important to note this is mentioned in Matthew 2:23 as well, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
27 – to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
Mary was espoused to Joseph, married without the consummation of the marriage. The only way the espousal relationship ended was via divorce or death of one of the two parties. If the husband to be died before the marriage, the wife to be would be a virgin widow.
Again, we see another fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and] will call him Immanuel. (Immanuel means God with us)
28 – The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
There are many who will make of the highly favored that Mary is somehow holy as Jesus is holy, but the same Greek 5487 word for highly favored here is the same as that in Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. And it literally means receive grace. Thus, all of us who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior are, like Mary, highly favored!
29 – Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
As was Mary’s nature she wondered or pondered what the greeting might mean. What would it mean to be highly favored by God? What would it mean when an angel says to you, The Lord is with you?
Mary’s nature is further revealed in Luke 2:19, But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
30-33 – But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus. 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, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”
I cannot imagine how this was supposed to dispel Mary’s fear. Now she is being told she will have a baby, a son with the name Jesus who will reign forever. That simply had to be overwhelming. But how does Mary reply to this?
With a very simple straightforward question in the next verse.
34 – “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
She did not question what the angel has said, she simply asked how since I am a virgin. Compare that to Zechariah’s reply to the angel in verse 18a, How can I be sure of this? He was effectively asking for a sign while Mary basically said, “Okay, but how?”
35-37 – 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. 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.
For no word from God will ever fail.”
Or nothing will be impossible with God.” ESV
Overshadow is like a cloud covering as occurred during Jesus’ transfiguration where in Mark 9:7 says, Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” There is a true gentleness implied here with the overshadowing. Returning back, we must not neglect the one Mary will name Jesus will be called the Son of God. And earlier, He will reign forever, His kingdom will never end. This can only mean He is eternal and indeed the Son of God.
What does this mean to us? Consider when a child is conceived, he or she is a brand new creation, but Jesus was not. He left eternity to inject Himself into our history, our humanity, to become a man as well as being God. He existed eternally before He was conceived in Mary’s womb. More on this in a few minutes. But first Mary’s reply to the Gabriel.
38 – I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Or as I prefer, And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. ESV
How many of us would reply to God’s message that would produce great changes in your life, I am a servant of the Lord, let it be according to His word? After all she lived in a society where once her pregnancy was discovered she could have been stoned to death. She was not yet married. Imagine her conversation with her husband to be Joseph.
For a bit of levity, be aware of the ‘hymn’ the Beatles did with a song called “Let It Be”
With all that being said, let’s return to the point that as a virgin Mary was going to give birth to Jesus. Do you truly believe that? A number of churches, pastors, preachers, ministers, and priests are saying that it is not necessarily true. Could they be right? Absolutely not! If that were true, Jesus would not be eternal, would not be the Son of God, but the son of some man who engaged in fortification with Mary. Could a child of such a union be the perfect sacrifice for our sins on the cross at Calvary? We know better or we should.
Alistair Begg when discussing this introduced a paragraph from the Westminster Confession of Faith. Let me read it to you. Westminster Confession of Faith – Chapter VIII – II. (In Modern English)
The Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one nature with the Father and equal with Him, took to Himself, in God’s appointed time, man’s nature, with all the essential characteristics and common frailties of this nature, yet without sin, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her nature; so that two whole, perfect and distinct natures, the divine and the human, were inseparably joined together (without being changed, compounded or fused) in one Person. This Person is very God and very Man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
If you are going to be forgiven for your sins by the sacrifice on the cross of Jesus, it will be a man who was fully God and fully human – divine and human. Somehow joined into one person. This man who is also God, is our Mediator between God and us.
Also from Alistair Begg, Jane Fonda and an archbishop had the following exchange
Archbishop making a statement: Jesus is the Son of God.
Fonda replies: He may be the Son of God for you, but He is not the Son of God for me.
To which the archbishop replied: Jane, He either is or He is not. Those are the only two alternatives.
What are you going to tell the next person you talk to about Jesus, the Savior of mankind? What do you truly believe?