December 9 - Gabriel comes to Mary

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December 9 - Gabriel comes to Mary - Luke 1:26-37

A young Jewish woman from the town of Nazareth had her life turned upside down by a visit from the angel Gabriel. She probably had her life well planned out. A nice young man named Joseph was her betrothed. While the wedding and feast hadn't occured yet and she wasn't yet living with him, she knew that they would be together forever as husband and wife.

She was probably a teenager and hadn't experienced much of life yet. With that, I can't imagine her reaction when confronted with an angelic messenger. I honestly don't know what I would have done.

In Luke 1:28 we find Gabriel's greeting to Mary. "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." One of the first things to point out in this passage is that Mary had done absolutely nothing to earn or deserve this blessing. God favored her. She was chosen only by God's grace and favor, not by anything she had done.

She is fairly well freaked out, but I suspect her upbringing and sense of decorum stopped her from running away and screaming for help. In this day and age, I wonder if Gabriel would be able to get a word in without having the police and doctors ready with tranquilizers on hand to keep him under control.

Gabriel's words in Luke 1:30-33 are quite reminiscent of Isaiah's words in Isaiah 9:6-7. He phrased things to inform Mary of the true purpose of his visit. She would have recognized the implications and the meanings behind his words.

One of the commentaries I read asked why Mary imagined that the pregnancy would occur before she and Joseph actually finished the time of betrothal and were married. What a great question and there is no good answer. I can only believe that Gabriel's words spoke to an immediacy regarding the conception of the child. At what point did she know that this had happened?

Notice Mary's response to Gabriel in Luke 1:34. Compare that to Zechariah's response to Gabriel's announcement of Elizabeth's conception in Luke 1:18. Mary asks how it can happen. She wants to know the details. Zechariah, on the other hand, wants to know a very personal thing - something based on faith. How can he be sure of Gabriel's words. He questioned the one sent from God. Mary simply questioned the mechanics.

Gabriel was glad to tell her. He also told her about Elizabeth. The last words he says to her, in Luke 1:37 are, "For nothing is impossible with God."

Before Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the last week of his life, he continues to teach his disciples. In Mark 10:27, he teaches the same concept. "All things are possible with God."

Christmas is a time to believe that the impossible can happen. We know that it already has happened. A young woman, who was a virgin, conceived a child by the Holy Spirit and this child would become the Savior of the World.