I used to refer to the story about the Virgin Mary to demonstrate my belief that the Bible was an absolute fairy tale. No one could be born of a virgin. How ridiculous (or so I thought). That was more than 40 years ago when I didn’t believe in the existence of God and the supernatural. I know better now. Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior does a lot to change an atheist’s beliefs about God. God did send His One and Only Son to be born of a virgin. Let’s see what we can learn about this amazing event.
It’s important to remember that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ should have been no surprise to the people of Israel. It was the fulfillment of ancient prophecies.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.”
The angel of God quoted Isaiah 7:14 to Joseph: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah wrote his prophetic Book more than 700 years before the birth of Christ. Anyone who had access to a copy of the Book of Isaiah would have known that Immanuel (God with us) would be born to a virgin. That would be a sign to Israel that God was bringing about the certain events of prophecy.
The Book of Matthew looks at the paternal and kingly lineage of Christ beginning with Abraham and continuing through the centuries to David and eventually Joseph, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. The Book of Luke presents our Lord as coming directly from Heaven to the womb of a virgin. There would be nothing natural about this Holy Birth. It is that amazing relationship between God and the human race that we’ll investigate as we quickly approach Christmas.
Even as God sent an angel to speak to Joseph, God sent an angel to speak to his espoused (promised) wife Mary.
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 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. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ 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. 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. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
Wow! This has to be one of the most amazing conversations between a human and an angel in the history of the human race. God sends the mighty angel Gabriel to a little town in the Middle East named Nazareth. Gabriel goes to a little house in the little town and speaks to a young girl named Mary who is a virgin.
Get a picture of this in your mind: a big, powerful angel travels straight from Heaven on a special mission from God to talk with a young virgin girl. What are the first words out of his mouth? “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
Gabriel tells Mary to rejoice because she is the “highly favored one.” These three English words are the translation of just one Greek word, kecharitomene. It comes from the root word charitoo and carries the idea of someone being filled with grace on the part of the giver. It is a perfect participle in the passive voice, which means someone else placed Mary in a present state of grace that resulted from a past action. That “someone” was the Lord! God Almighty had chosen Mary at a past time to be filled with His Grace at the present time. She was going to be a human vessel to bring God’s Son into the world in the flesh.
Mary was “troubled” (greatly disturbed, agitated) at what Gabriel told her. Put yourself in Mary’s place. How would feel if an angel appeared to you, called you “highly favored one” and told you that the Lord is with you and you are blessed among women? I think it would be troubling. Mary “considered” (reasoned) what manner of greeting this was. Gabriel knew how his greeting was affecting her, so he was quick to say “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.”
Do you see how personal and loving this is? The Lord God of Heaven selected Mary out from all the women of all the ages of the earth to be blessed with God’s most Precious Gift. Mary was going to become the mother of God’s One and Only Son, Jesus.
We will learn much more about Mary this week, but first we’ll look at one of the most amazing statements in all of the Bible. That’s tomorrow! Be well and enjoy this special day as our celebration of our Savior’s birth draws near.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”