Last time, we discussed the announcement of the coming birth of John the Baptist by the angel, Gabriel, to Zacharias the priest. Recall that. Zacharias had been struck temporarily mute due to his unbelief of Gabriel’s prophecy. After completing his service in the temple, Zacharias had returned to his home in Judea, and his wife, Elizabeth, had become pregnant.
Luke 1:26-2726Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
The Messiah was promised to come from the house of David.
2 Samuel 7:12-16 (Nathan the prophet proclaiming the Word of the Lord to King David)12“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”‘”
Isaiah 11:1-21There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.2The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,The Spirit of counsel and might,The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:5-65“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;A King shall reign and prosper,And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.6In His days Judah will be saved,And Israel will dwell safely;Now this is His name by which He will be called:THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Just in case there is any doubt that Jesus is this promised Messiah – the Branch of David – consider His own words.
John 4:25-2625The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Specific genealogies are given in Matthew 1 and in Luke 3. Matthew traces the lineage of Joseph from Abraham, and Luke traces it from Adam. Of course, the lineage of Joseph is not really relevant, since Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father. Clearly, then, Mary must have been descended from David, too in order that the prophecies would be fulfilled that Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah, and the royal line of David. Some have proposed that the genealogy in Luke 3 (which differs significantly from Matthew 1) is actually the line of Mary, although Luke does not specifically say so. It is possible that Mary’s father’s name was also Joseph, and that he is the Joseph mentioned in Luke’s genealogy. We’ll revisit this question briefly later on when we study the genealogy given in Luke 3. In the meantime, notice Luke’s phrasing here in Luke 1:27, that Gabriel appeared “to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” I am totally ignorant of Greek grammar, but here in the English, it is not entirely clear whether Luke is saying that Joseph, Mary, or both were descendants of David.
Luke 1:28-3328And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
It would have been highly unusual in ancient Hebrew culture for any man to meet in private and speak with a woman who was a stranger to him. Even today, in many middle eastern cultures single adult men and women are forbidden to converse alone together without the presence of a chaperone. So it is easy to understand why Mary would have been troubled to have Gabriel conversing with her, even if Gabriel appeared to be an ordinary man. Furthermore, Gabriel’s did not use the customary Hebrew greeting – שָׁלוֹם shalowm. Gabriel could see Mary’s consternation, and immediately reassured her.
Luke 1:3131And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
The Greek name Ἰησοῦς Iēsousis here is the Hellenized form of the Hebrew name יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yĕhowshuwa` (Joshua) meaning “The Lord (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah) is Salvation.”
Acts 4:12Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Luke 1:32-3332He 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. 33And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Isaiah 9:6-76For unto us a Child is born,Unto us a Son is given;And the government will be upon His shoulder.And His name will be calledWonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7Of the increase of His government and peaceThere will be no end,Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,To order it and establish it with judgment and justiceFrom that time forward, even forever.The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Luke 1:3434Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
Mary’s reaction to the announcement of the coming miraculous birth of Immanuel – God with us – is quite familiar. Recall from Genesis that God had promised to give Abram an heir. Abram believed God, who accounted it to him for righteousness. But Abram had tried to help God out at the urging of his wife, Sarai, and had fathered a son, Ishmael by Sarai’s maidservant, Hagar. Then, some 13 years later, God appeared to Abraham again renaming him Abraham – the father of many nations – and reiterating the promise of an heir…
Genesis 17:15-1915Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”18And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”19Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
Not long after that, God appeared a further time to Abraham to remind him of the promise…
Genesis 18:10-1210And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”(Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing 12Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
As we have just studied Zacharias the priest was struck dumb for his disbelief in the announcement of the coming birth of his son John the Baptist…
Luke 1:19-2019And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
Why, then, was Zacharias punished for his disbelief, but Abraham, Sarah, and Mary were not? Remember that while we look on outward appearances, and hear words uttered with the mouth, God looks at our hearts, and perceives our inmost thoughts. It is clear that, although Abraham and Sarah laughed at the prospect of having a child in their old age, they nevertheless believed that God would make it happen.
Similarly, while Zacharias clearly did not believe what Gabriel foretold to him, and was punished for it, Mary was not punished, because she believed that God would bring her a son. Thus, when she asked this question of Gabriel in Luke 1:34, it was not out of disbelief in her heart, but rather out of genuine curiosity and wonder at how God would accomplish the miracle.
Luke 1:3535And 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.
All mankind is born in sin. We touched briefly on this when we considered Luke’s statement that Zacharias and Elizabeth – were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. [Luke 1:6] The Word of God makes it very clear that even if we don’t actually commit sinful acts, say sinful things, or even think sinful thoughts, all of us have this inborn sin nature…
Genesis 6:55Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Psalm 53:1-31The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God.”They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;There is none who does good.2God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.3Every one of them has turned aside;They have together become corrupt;There is none who does good,No, not one.
Ecclesiastes 7:20For there is not a just man on earth who does goodAnd does not sin.
Isaiah 53:6All we like sheep have gone astray;We have turned, every one, to his own way;And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
1 John 1:8-108If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
In order for Jesus to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” and take upon Himself “the iniquity of us all”, it was essential that He be a perfect, spotless sacrifice in our place. So He had to be born without the sinful nature that is inborn into all mankind. This is why His mother had to be a virgin. The virgin birth of Christ is one of the “non-negotiables” of our Christian faith, as stated in the Refuge Church Statement of Faith…
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, and teachings; His substitutionary atoning death; bodily resurrection; ascension into heaven; perpetual intercession for His people; and personal, visible return to earth. We believe that He is one and the same as God. He is fully human and fully God.
Furthermore, the virgin birth is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy…
Isaiah 7:14Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. [God with us]
There could also be no question who Jesus’ Father is. Indeed it was this claim to His Sonship which caused the Jewish establishment in Jerusalem to call for His crucifixion…
John 10:24-3924Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30I and My Father are one.”31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”33The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? [Psalm 82:6] 35If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” 39Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
Luke 1:36-3736Now 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. 37For with God nothing will be impossible.”
After His encounter, with the rich young man who had gone away sorrowfully, when Jesus told him he must sell all his possessions, Jesus made a striking remark to His disciple.
Matthew 19:23-2623Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”25When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”26But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Throughout His Word, God has used miraculous manifestations of His power to draw people to Himself and into belief and repentance.
Exodus 3:1-61Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”4So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”And he said, “Here I am.”5Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
John 2:1-111On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”4Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”5His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”6Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”11This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Of course we could go on and on. Jesus Himself proclaimed the purpose of these miracles to His disciples.
John 14:1-111“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4And where I go you know, and the way you know.”5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
So it is with the two miracles announced by Gabriel here in this chapter – the miraculous birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth in her old age, and the miraculous manifestation of Jesus – The Son of God – in the womb of the virgin Mary in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Luke 1:3838Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The word translated as “maidservant” here is δούλη doulē. It is translated as “handmaid,”[KJV, RSV, ASV] “servant,”[NLT, NIV, NET] “bondslave,”[NASB] , and “slave”[HCSB]. It is the feminine form of the Greek word δοῦλος doulos and refers to both a voluntary or involuntary slave in accordance with the Mosaic law pertaining to slaves.
Deuteronomy 15:12-1812“If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; 14you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the LORD your God has blessed you with, you shall give to him. 15You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today. 16And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, 17then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise. 18It shall not seem hard to you when you send him away free from you; for he has been worth a double hired servant in serving you six years. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all that you do.
The corresponding Hebrew words are עֶבֶד `ebed for a male slave, and אָמָה ‘amah for a female. The Greek word – δούλη doulē – Mary uses here to refer to herself is found in only two other verses. In Luke 1:48, Mary uses it again, speaking of herself, and the Apostle Peter uses it quoting from the Prophet Joel to mean all women of God in the last days.
Acts 2:18And on My menservants and on My maidservantsI will pour out My Spirit in those days;And they shall prophesy.
Clearly Mary herself didn’t regard herself as an equal with God, but as His slave – the faithful vessel that God used to bring the Lord Jesus – the Son of Man – into His earthly life. The notion of Mary as a divine, sinless co-redeemer to whom we may pray for her intercession is a misleading, false doctrine which is completely un-Biblical.
Luke 1:39-4539Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Here in this amazing passage, we see the fulfillment of the words of Gabriel to Zacharias regarding the son who would be born to Elizabeth.
Luke 1:15b“He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
Since the Word is silent regarding any other means by which Elizabeth might have learned of Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, we assume that Elizabeth was given a word of prophecy by God’s Spirit when she refers to Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Elizabeth also affirms for us here Mary’s belief in the words of Gabriel, and the assurance that the birth of Jesus which Gabriel foretold would, indeed, come to pass.