Harmony of the Gospels

 

 

-7 or 6 B.C.-

Nazareth

(2) Announcement of the Birth of Jesus to a Virgin

Scriptures (Is. 7:14) Luke 1:26-38

Luke 1:26-38

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Commentary

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

 In the sixth month after his appearance to Zacharias (or after Elizabeth became pregnant), Gabriel reappeared—this time to a virgin ([5]See Article #5 page #66) named[1]Mary  who lived in the city of [6]Nazareth, in the district of Galilee. Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, a lineal descendant of David, who inherited legal rights to the throne of David, even though he himself was a carpenter. Betrothal was considered a much more binding contract than engagement is today. In fact, it could be broken only by a legal decree similar to divorce. The engagement was completed after negotiations had been carried on by the groom’s representative and the dowry money paid to the girl’s father. After the betrothal, which lasted for about a year, the groom could claim the bride at any time. A wedding was merely recognition of the agreement that had already been established. Joseph had a perfect right to travel with Mary to Bethlehem.

When the angel visited Mary, Mary and Joseph were betrothed but they did not live together as husband and wife. According to Jewish custom, betrothal was a time of engagement that was as binding as marriage. The Law of Moses concerning breaking a betrothal by adultery, rape, fornication, or incest called for death by stoning (Deut. 22:23–30). When Mary became pregnant during her betrothal, Joseph decided to divorce her quietly. However, God explained to Joseph in a dream that Mary’s conception was the miracle of the Holy Spirit.

The angel went to Jerusalem to speak to Zechariah and now God has sent him to Nazareth, with a message for a young girl by the name of Mary.  The messenger, both times, is the angel Gabriel.  I can think of only two other angels that the Bible names. One is the Arc Angel Michael and the other is Lucifer, who we call Satan and the Devil.  Gabriel had a message that was written before the foundation of the world, but it was withheld until God said that the time was right.  Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”

Mary is called a virgin.  Today, some people do not know what that is.  That is a woman who could never have a child in a natural way because she has never had a relationship with a man that would make the birth of a child possible.  I cannot explain it any simpler.  If you still do not understand, then you need to have some one explain to you about the birds and bees.

An unbeliever can say that he does not believe in the virgin birth, and that is ok.  I do not expect them to.  But for a believer, especially a preacher, to say that he does not believe in the virgin birth is a disgrace, and I would have to say that he is ignorant of God’s word.  It is clearly stated in the Bible and it is essential to the Christian faith.  To deny the virgin birth is to deny the divinity of Christ and without it, there is no explanation for the Resurrection. Gabriel told Mary that she was “highly favored” (Lit. “full of grace”) by God. This portrays Mary as being a recipient, not a dispenser of divine grace. Others were favored by God, but we are usually told that they were righteous in the eyes of God; that they were obedient and brought the proper sacrifices.  Some of those righteous people are Zechariah, Elizabeth, Abraham, and David.  Why was Mary favored?  She must have been a wonderful young woman, but we know very little about her, except that God chose her and blessed her and God does not make mistakes. Two points should be noted here: (1) the angel did not worship Mary or pray to her; he simply greeted her. (2) He did not say that she was “full of grace,” but highly favored. What an honor to be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah! Mary humbly submitted to the Lord because she had faith that He would keep His promise. Her decision would bring her sorrow and suffering, but she willingly submitted it. She was “blessed among women” because of the grace of God given to her. All who trust Christ as their Savior are highly graced by the Lord ([2]Eph. 1:6).

 

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways

Display Thine attributes divine;

But the bright glories of Thy grace

Above Thine other wonders shine:

Who is a pard’ning God like Thee?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

Samuel Davies

 

Mary and her husband-to-be, Joseph, were both from the line of David.  This is important, because God had promised David that the Savior of mankind would come from his line.  ([3]See Psalms 89:34-37)

There is a fear among Protestants of giving too much attention to Mary, because that may ring of Catholicism.  However, she was highly favored.  It is true that she was blessed among women, not above women.  She elevated the value of womanhood, but she was not lifted above women.  It was a woman who brought sin into the world, but do not forget it was also a woman that brought the Savior into the world. Mary was perhaps the best female descendant of David suitable for this matchless ministry of rearing the very Son of God. We must be careful not to downgrade Mary, nor to exalt her too highly.


29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

Mary was bothered by what the angel said and she wondered what it meant, though she accepted it. She was afraid and that is a natural reaction for anyone who sees an angel. Why? In all probability because she, though being a young woman of excellent moral and spiritual character, was still a sinner, who now was unexpectedly face-to-face with a strong, brilliant, sinless being.

This reminds me of a story I heard of a black man over in Memphis, Tennessee who said, “I never believed in ghosts until I seen one.”  If you see an angel you have the right to be afraid, I would be.  Anytime the supernatural touches the natural, it creates fear.

Gabriel will go on to explain that the Messiah Himself was to be born to her.30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

The angel’s message contains a quote from Isaiah 7:14, “Therefor the lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”  None of this is hard to understand and both passages are quite literal.  When the liberal theologian says that the Bible does not teach the virgin birth, I would ask him, “Can you read” and if the answer were yes, I would tell him “Then you haven’t read your Bible.”  It is as plain as the nose on your face.  The Bible says that a virgin gave birth to Jesus.

Take another look at Isaiah’s prophesy, “…..The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  Isaiah said that His name would be Immanuel, but He is not called by that name in any of the Gospels.  Immanuel means “God with us,” but they called Him Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins.  However, He cannot save us from our sins unless He is Immanuel, “God with us.”  Every time you call Him Jesus, you are saying “God with us.”  He is God with us and God for us.  He is our Savior, born of a virgin.

Note that God is going to give Jesus a throne, the throne that David set on when he was alive.  David’s descendants had ruled over Judah from the United Kingdom to the Exile in one unbroken dynasty. The angel predicted that Jesus would complete the succession. He will rein over the house of Jacob and from that point; there will be no end to His rein.  This is still in the future.  When Jesus returns it will not be as a baby, but He will return as a king with power and glory'

Notice the important truths, which are enshrined in the announcement by the angel:  

1.      The real humanity of the Messiah—you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son.

2.      His deity and His mission as Savior—and shall call His name JESUS (meaning Jehovah is the Savior).

3.      His essential greatness—He will be great, both as to His Person and His work.

4.      His identity as the Son of God—and will be called the Son of the Highest.

5.      His title to the throne of David—the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. This establishes Him as the Messiah.

6.      His everlasting and universal kingdom—He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Verses 31 and 32a obviously refer to Christ’s First Advent, whereas verses 32b and 33 describe His Second Coming as King of kings and Lord of lords.

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Mary’s question, “How can this be?” was one of wonder but not of doubt. How could she bear a child when she had never had relations with a man? Although the angel did not say so in so many words, the answer was virgin birth. It would be a miracle of the Holy Spirit. He would come upon her, and the power of God would overshadow her. To Mary’s problem of “How?”—it seemed impossible to human reckoning—God’s answer is “the Holy Spirit”:

 This was a legitimate question, given Mary’s present marital status. Unlike Zechariah’s question in verse 18, Mary expresses no doubt, but rather a humble submission to the will of God.

Note that the angel did not rebuke Mary, as he had rebuked Zachariah (v. 20). This indicates that Mary did not doubt the angel’s words, but wanted to know how such an event would be accomplished. How could a virgin give birth to a child?

Mary was the first one to question the virgin birth, but the angel Gabriel has the answer.

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Mary is told that her baby would be a “Holy One.”  The union of a man and a woman can only produce another sinner, because both parents are sinners.  But through the virgin birth, God will bring a “Holy One,” His Son, into the world. How will He do it? The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. These words express the completely miraculous nature of Mary’s conception. It was accomplished by God alone in a unique, never-to-be-repeated way. But one might ask, could not Mary transmit her sinful nature to the one conceived in her womb? Ordinarily this would be the case, but the phrase that holy thing which shall be born of thee declares that God supernaturally prevented this from occurring. No man had anything to do with the birth of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit’s creative act in the body of Mary provided the physical means for the incarnation. We are told in the book of Leviticus that the birth of a baby made a woman unclean, because she brought a sinner into the world.  That was not the case with Mary.

Do you know why the baby will be called the “Son of God?”  It is because He is the Son of God.  The scriptures are clear on this point and they are very simple words; Jesus was the Son of God and His mother was a virgin.  If you are not a believer, I do not expect you to believe this, but no one can deny that the Bible teaches the virgin birth and that Jesus was the Son of God. Therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Here then we have a sublime statement of the incarnation. Mary’s Son would be God manifest in the flesh. Language cannot exhaust the mystery that is shrouded here.

36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

The angel then broke the news to Mary that [7]Elizabeth her relative, was in her sixth month of pregnancy—she had been barren. This miracle should reassure Mary that with God nothing would be impossible.

The birth of John the Baptist was also miraculous, but it was not a virgin birth.  The statement, “For nothing is impossible with God,” is one that we need to hold on to.  It is true that nothing is impossible for God, if He decides to do it.  However, I know of many people today who misuse and twist this verse to fit their own selfish desires.  This verse does not mean that the believer can do anything or that God will do whatever you ask.  What you ask must fit His plan and purpose and then it will happen, but even then, you may need to wait until it is the proper time according to God’s timetable.  Nothing is impossible for God, but there are a great many things that are impossible for you and me.  When a man says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” and fails at a task that he says that God gave him to do; it causes unbelievers to ridicule God.  Keep everything in perspective and do not do a lot of talking that will hurt the cause of Christ.

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

This verse shows Mary’s submission to God’s will.  Her unhesitating acceptance showed her devote and obedient character. She was willing to risk disgrace and divorce to comply with God’s command. She told the angel, “Let it be to me according to your word.” At this very moment, a cloud came over Mary’s life, and that cloud would remain until Jesus returned from the dead.  Jesus would be her Son, but she would not receive Him as Savior until after the Resurrection.  She would not fully understand all that happened to her until then.  The Resurrection of Christ proved His virgin birth.  You cannot deny the virgin birth and believe in the Resurrection and vise versa.  The two go together and will stand together forever.

 

[1] Article #4—Mary of NazarethAn Honored Mother

No other human being was closer to Jesus Christ on earth than Mary, His mother. Each of the gospels and the book of Acts include her as a woman uniquely gifted to share her Son’s earthly life. As a mother, she is one of us, but as the mother of our Lord, she is blessed above all women. Matthew introduced Mary of Nazareth as the betrothed wife of Joseph, “a just man” (1:19). When the angel Gabriel appeared to her with the birth announcement (Luke 1:26–28), Mary’s response clearly revealed her keen understanding of the Scriptures and her ready willingness to obey God.

The awesome concept of yielding her virgin body to the Holy Spirit as His instrument was sure to be misunderstood, but Mary’s spirit of total trust earned God’s pleasure (Luke 1:38). Overwhelming as the news was, she submitted herself to the assignment with joy. Her song of praise (Luke 1:46–55) describes a perceptive heart of overflowing exaltation to her Lord. \

Intertwined with spiritual insight, however, were Mary’s anxieties. When at age twelve Jesus failed to join the family as they returned from Jerusalem (Luke 2:41–50), when the wine at the wedding feast was insufficient (John 2:1–12), when she was concerned during his ministry (Mark 6:2, 3; Luke 8:19) or horrified at his crucifixion, her Son graciously responded to his mother’s disquiet on each occasion. He tenderly placed her in the care of His beloved John before He died (John 19:25–27).

Mary and Joseph became the parents of other children. Mary probably experienced early widowhood, but she shines as a faithful wife and mother. When Mary appeared publicly, standing at the Cross (John 19:25) and praying after the Lord’s ascension (Acts 1:12–14), she demonstrated her courage to the world. She was marked as “one of His,” liable for persecution along with the disciples.

The unknown maiden from the despised Galilean town of Nazareth (see John 1:46) illuminates for all time the basic nature of womanhood: entrusting to the next generation the message of God’s faithfulness, whether through the rearing of one’s own child or through the task of spiritual nurturing which might extend beyond the family circle. Not only was Mary God’s sovereign choice to bear the Christ Child, but she was also a devoted and humble follower of her Messiah.

Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers

[2] (Eph. 1:6) “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

[3] (Psalms 89:34-37)My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.”

[5] Article #5—Why is the Virgin Birth So Important?

There is no doubt according to Scripture that Christ’s birth was a virgin birth, totally without parallel either before or since. This is required for several reasons:

  1. To fulfill Old Testament prophecy (Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; Jer 31:22).
  2. To avoid the Old Testament curse on the seed of Jeconiah (Jer 22:24–30), yet still be able to claim the Throne of David in the kingly line.
  3. To be in accord with the theological implications of the inspiration of the Scriptures and Christ’s sinless humanity. Through the miraculous virgin conception, Christ avoided receiving a sinful nature.
  4. To avoid receiving a human father. Christ already had a Father, and it would be unsuitable to have a second one.
  5. To avoid creating a new person, as is done in all normal conceptions. Mary’s conception of Christ was to be the incarnation of an already existing person.

[6] Nazareth lies high on a sharp slope in the Galilean hills. Its altitude is about 1,150 feet. From the summit above the village one looks south across the extensive plain of Esdraelon, west of Mt. Carmel on the Mediterian coast, east to nearby Mt. Tabor, and north to snow-capped Mt. Hermon.

[7] Mary and Elizabeth were first cousins; Jesus and John the Baptist were second cousins

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