The Announcement to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
Lessons from the Birth of Jesus Christ, Part One
“…let it be to me according to your word”: An expression of Submission and Obedience to the Will of God.
The announcement to Mary is commonly called the Annunciation. It happened six months after the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple of Jerusalem to announce that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son (1:5-25). The same angel appeared to Mary to announce that she will conceive and give birth to a son. She was from Nazareth, a town in Galilee.
Luke reported that Mary was “greatly troubled” or perplexed by the angel’s salutation (1:28, 29),
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (NIV)
Her question in 1:34 (“How will this be”…?) also shows perplexity after hearing the angel’s announcement,
“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.” (1:30-33 NIV)
The reasons for such perplexity are the following:
First, Mary was a virgin (1:27, 34). The word “virgin” in Greek is παρθένοϛ (Parthenos), “a marriageable maiden”, or “a woman who has never had sexual intercourse with a man” (Strong-Lite). Luke is believed to have gotten this story direct from Mary herself. (Read more…The Gospel of Luke: Good News to the Underprivileged). She was perplexed that though she never had sexual intercourse with a man, she would conceive and give birth to a son.
Second, she was “pledged to be married to a man named Joseph” (NIV). She was pledged (KJV) or betrothed. Betrothal according to ISBE (The Word): “Is the first formal part in ancient Hebrew marriage. It was of a more formal and far more binding nature than the “engagement” is with us. Its central feature was the dowry (mohar), which was paid to the parents, not to the bride. It may take the form of service (; 1Sam 18:25). It is customary in Syria today, when the projected marriage is approved by both families, and all the financial preliminaries have been settled, to have this ceremony of betrothal. It consists in the acceptance before witnesses of the terms of the marriage as contracted for. Then God’s blessing is solemnly asked on the union thus provided for, but to take place probably only after some months, or perhaps some years.”
“From the time of betrothal the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom she was betrothed” (Easton, MySword for Android). That is why Joseph upon learning of Mary’s pregnancy planned to “divorce” her in order to prevent her from public disgrace.
Since she was betrothed to Joseph and had no sexual relations with him yet, she knew that the conception will ruin her reputation in the community. However, the angel’s response helped her to humbly submit to God’s plan:
“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.” (1:35-37 NIV)
From this, we can deduce at least three significant things that helped her accept her providence:
One, the “Holy Spirit will come upon” her and the “power of the Most High will overshadow” her. The Holy Spirit will be the major agent in this process of conception. The creative power of the Most High shall “overshadow” her. This is akin to the work of the Spirit of God “hovering (brooding) over the surface of the waters in Gen. 1:2 (Clarke). That is, Jesus will be conceived by the direct power of the Holy Spirit of God.
Two, her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a child in her old age and was in her sixth month after being unable to conceive for a very long time. This news might have been an encouragement to her. Elizabeth’s pregnancy and the presence of Joseph who decided to remain with her provided for her an amazing support system. [Read more…Mary Visits Elizabeth: An Amazing Support System for Two Women in Unusual Circumstances (Luke 1:39-56)]
Three, “For no word from God will ever fail.” There is an allusion here to the word of the Lord in Gen. 18:14, when the birth of Isaac was foretold to Sarah, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
This foreseen intervention of God in Mary’s predicament must have strengthened her faith, thus causing her to humbly submit herself to obey God’s will, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (1:38 NJKV)
Costas, Stergiou. The Word Bible Study Software, 2003-2015.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2018.
Bible Gateway. www.biblegateway.com(For Bible Versions)