In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1: 26-33)
This text is full of surprises for Mary and Joseph. Mary, a young woman betrothed to Joseph, is tapped by the angel Gabriel to bear a son to be named Jesus and he will be a great one, the Savior of the world. We wonder what Mary thought when she received this message. The voice of Gabriel bore many surprises and was difficult for Mary to comprehend. Some of the surprises were why was she chosen, how could she be pregnant never having had an intimate relationship with Joseph and what would Joseph think. Depending on translations we find that Mary upon hearing Gabriel’s message was “much perplexed” (NRSV), “greatly troubled” (NIV), and “confused and disturbed” (NLT).
According to scripture Mary was a devout Jew and an exceptional woman of faith. Mary had been learning about biblical prophecy her entire life. This wondrous birth was prophesized in Isaiah 7:14. Mary’s response to Gabriel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) We can be assured that God convinced Joseph to believe Mary and that her pregnancy was a divine conception.
Mary’s message speaks volumes to us this Advent season. We are to be humble, speak with boldness and hear God’s calls to make the world a better place for all.
Who wants to be Mary? I remember as a young Sunday School student being asked to play the part of Mary in our Christmas program. I was so excited to kneel in front of the manger crafted by my father of tree limbs from our farm. What a wonderful experience!
Our dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for choosing Mary to give birth to your Son, Jesus Christ. We are thankful for our Savior who brings us peace, joy and hope. Help us to remember that Christ is our greatest treasure for the whole year. Amen