Key Verse: 1:38
"'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you
have said.' Then the angel left her."
1. Read verses 26-30. Who was Mary? What can you learn about her in
these verses? How did the angel greet her, and why was she
troubled at his greeting? What does it mean to find favor with
2. What was the favor or grace God gave Mary? (31) [How did Paul view
God's grace or favor? See Ro 1:5; Php 1:29; Eph 3:8; Eph 2:10.]
3. Read verses 31-33. What did the angel tell Mary about the son she
would bear? List all the things you can learn in these verses about
who Jesus is and what he came to do.
4. What is the spiritual meaning of "David's throne" and "kingdom that
will never end"? (2Sa 7:11-13; Da 7:14,18,27) Jesus became our
eternal king through his death and resurrection. Explain in at
least 3 pages.
5. What was Mary's response? How does this reveal her great faith?
What was the basis of her decision of faith? What can we learn from
her? (Write at least six pages of answers to the questions.)
Today's passage is the angel's Christmas message to Mary, a
beautiful country girl. The key point of the message is the birth of
Jesus through Mary, who was engaged to Joseph. Let's see how she
responded to the angel's message, and learn something about Mary. In
his message, the angel introduces who Jesus is and the kingdom of God.
Today let's think about Mary's absolute obedience.
First, you who are highly favored (26-30).
Look at verse 26. "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to
Nazareth, a town in Galilee..." "In the sixth month" refers to
Elizabeth, who had been pregnant for six months. Look at verse 27.
"...to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a
descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary." Mary was a country
girl who lived in a small village called Nazareth in Galilee. It was
probably a small, clean country village. Perhaps in the daytime, one
could hear the sweet song of the oriole crying among the trees. And at
night, from across the hills, anyone could hear the lonely hoot of the
owl. How happy the boys and girls must have been when they met by
chance and looked at each other with an air of innocence. Certainly
Mary was the happiest one among all the girls, and she could not
contain the joy of her beautiful dreams of a sweet home she would have
with Joseph. Her sweet dream seemed to last forever.
One day something unusual happened! Look at verse 28. An angel came
to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is
with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what
kind of greeting this might be (29). Mary really liked Joseph. Mary had
made a personal commitment to Joseph. So Mary's heart was filled with
Joseph. Mary felt that she was in the same boat with Joseph. She was
ready to enjoy the time of the gentle breeze of life as well as the
life of the turbulent waves of the sea together with Joseph. She didn't
need anyone else's favor, not even an angel's. The angel was afraid
that Mary was startled, not knowing what was interrupting her life of
dream. Mary wondered what kind of greeting this might be. She looked
very quiet. But to a young girl, the angel's message was thunderous.
The angel was sorry that Mary was afraid. So the angel realized that
Mary should know who Jesus is, and what his kingdom is like, because
the kingdom of God solves the fundamental problem of all mankind. So
there was no deviation for the angel in carrying out his mission. Look
at verse 30. "But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you
have found favor with God.'" Mary was abundantly happy with Joseph's
favor. Why did the angel bother Mary with another favor? Generally,
favor means to get some help from someone else. Secular Christians
think that to be favored by God is to receive many human blessings. But
the Biblical concept of "favor" is different. The Greek word "favor"
has the nuance of the word "grace." Here, grace is the beauty of Jesus.
The Bible tells us that those who know the beauty of Jesus have
something to do for the glory of God. So Paul sees that grace is given
to us to do God's mission (Ro 1:5; Php 1:29).
What was God's favor for Mary? Look at verse 31. "You will be with
child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus."
God's favor for Mary was to bear the baby Jesus and deliver him before
her marriage. What a difficult mission it was for her! She was a woman
pledged to be married to Joseph. At that time, in the Jewish world,
engagement was tantamount to marriage. Mary's beautiful dreams were
about to be real ized. But before marriage, Mary had to conceive and
bear the baby Jesus.
Our God is the holy God. Our God is Almighty God. This great God not
only gives his amazing grace to each person through his Son's blood,
but also he gives his work to do for his glory. To carry out God's
mission is not easy. To be frank, God's mission re quires all our
hearts, souls, and spirits, even our lives. According to the custom of
the law, the baby Jesus was brought to the temple to be presented to
the Lord (2:22). Simeon, who was one of those waiting for the Messiah,
said, "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many
in Israel" (Lk 2:34). He also prophesied about Mary. He said, "And a
sword will pierce your own soul too" (2:35). To carry out her mission
as the mother of Jesus was so costly and painful. Sinful men want to be
great, and at the same time they want to be very ordinary. God's
mission for Abraham was to overcome his desire to be a petty man and
grow up to be a source of blessing to all peoples of all na tions.
God's mission for King David was to fight against all the stronger
enemies in the promised land and subdue them. It required King David's
life. But King David obeyed God's will absolutely when he knew that God
planned to establish a theocratic kingdom in which his people could
live in peace and love. Once, King David was almost killed in the
battle (2Sa 21:15-17). God's mission for John the Baptist was to
prepare the way for the Lord. John's mission was to preach the message
of repentance as a part of preparing for the coming of the Messiah. It
required his life to carry out the mission. But he obeyed God's mission
absolutely. Man is happy when he experiences God's grace. Man is happy
when he finds the meaning of life in God's mission (Eph 2:10).
God made woman a suitable helper (Ge 2:18). In other words, he made
woman the mother of the universe. Sorry to say, since Adam's Fall, the
woman's desire is cursed (Ge 3:16). Most women are enslaved by the
cursed marriage problem. There are many women who did not solve their
marriage problems, even after their marriage. So, as a woman, it must
have been difficult for Mary to give up her dream of marriage. Mary
also lived in a rigid, traditional Jewish society. Those who became
pregnant before marriage were sup posed to be stoned to death. No
sooner did God's grace come upon her, than she became the object of
scorn and disgrace to the Jewish world. Humanly speaking, it was
impossible for Mary to obey.
God's mission as the mother of Jesus was too painful to bear. What
is more, to ex plain her situation to her fiance Joseph was a question,
"to say or not to say?" But Mary was a godly woman even if she was very
young. She decided to obey God's will abso lutely. However, her dream
of marriage and her bond of love with Joseph were broken to pieces.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) died young from exhaustion. After his
death, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) proposed to his widow, Clara
Schumann. Clara liked Brahms' musical genius. But she clearly rejected
his proposal. She wanted to make her husband's music compositions
famous in the world by her instinctive arrangements on the piano. She
was happy. But Brahms never married the rest of lifetime. Clara was
victorious and successful in making her husband a world-famous
composer. But Clara cannot compare to Mary, because Mary gave her dream
of marriage to God.
Second, Jesus is great because he is the Son of God.
In verses 31-33, the angel continues to speak his message to Mary so
that Mary may know indeed who Jesus is so that her absolute obedience
may come from her soul. In his message, the angel introduces first, who
Jesus is, for Mary needed this knowledge of Jesus in order to carry out
God's grace and mission. Look at verse 32a. "He will be great and will
be called the Son of the Most High." Kings and nations rise and wane.
They are like grass and flowers (Isa 40:6-8). But Jesus is the one and
only Son of Almighty God. Jesus is the Son of the Ruler of history,
and his kingdom is forever. Our God is the only living God and he rules
world history according to his time schedule. Our God is Spirit and is
immortal. Therefore, Jesus is great because he is the Son of God.
General Montgomery (1887-1976), at the end of his book, mentioned
the world's greatest leaders from the point of view of world history.
They were Mohammed, Buddha and Jesus. He included Jesus as one of the
greatest because of Jesus' power and authority in his words. Throughout
history, many have said many things about the greatness of Jesus as a
philanthropist, a poet, a teacher, a general, a man of deep humanity, a
man of sorrows, a man of God's heart, and so on. These days, in view of
psychophysiology, many see Jesus as a poor carpenter. Nonetheless,
there is no one in the world as great as Jesus. The greatness of Jesus
does not rest on his human qualities, but on the fact that he is the
Son of the Most High God.
Through one man Adam's disobedience to the holy command of God (Ge
2:17), sin came into the world (Ge 3:7). Sin has its wage. It is death
(Ro 6:23a). Mohammed, Bud dha, Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte
were nothing but Adam's descendants, and they all died in Adam (1Co
15:22). Their misery was that they died in great fear and uncertainty
after hard toiling. But Jesus is not a descendant of Adam; he is the
Son of God. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the
virgin Mary. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so in
Christ all will be made alive." Though Jesus is the Son of the Most
High God, he came to this world. He humbled himself and was born in a
manger of a stable. In this way, Jesus humbled himself in order to save
men from their sins. Moreover, Jesus emptied himself and became as
nothing. Jesus cared for all kinds of needy people as their friend and
shepherd. Jesus taught them the word of God and planted the hope of the
kingdom of God in the hearts of God's flock. Finally, he gave his
precious life on the cross as a ransom sacrifice for men's sins in
obedience to God's will. Jesus is truly great because he saves men from
their sins. Jesus is great because he is the Son of God.
Third, Jesus is the eternal King (32b).
Look at verse 32b. "The Lord God will give him the throne of his
father David..." God promised David that from his root the Messiah
would come (2Sa 7:12). However, David was the shadow of Jesus, the King
of love and peace. Kings of the world live for a brief time and die.
But Jesus became the eternal King. Our eternal King Jesus destroyed the
power of sin and death. Thus he became our eternal king. Our eternal
King gives eternal salvation from sin, eternal life and the kingdom of
God to those who believe in him.
Fourth, his kingdom is forever (31-33).
Finally, Gabriel talks to Mary about the kingdom of God. Look at
verse 33. "...and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his
kingdom will never end." The prophet Daniel wrote in his apocalyptic
prophecy concerning the eternal kingdom of Jesus our Lord (Da
7:14,18,27). The kings and kingdoms of the world are temporal, for they
are like pieces of wood, clay, bronze, iron, and so on. There is
nothing eternal in this world. This universal truth has been the agony
of the kings of nations in history when they wanted to keep their
kingdoms forever. The kingdoms of the world all crumbled like iron
eaten by rust. Only the kingdom of Jesus is forever.
England grew as such a glorious kingdom with so many colonies that
the people renamed this nation, "The United Kingdom." But now, English
people do not know whether they should call their country England or
the United Kingdom. Only the kingdom of Jesus is forever. The kingdom
of God is our final destination. When we have faith in the kingdom of
God, we can have the peace of God in our hearts and live as holy
pilgrims. After being convinced, Mary's soul inclined to hear the
Fifth, "I am the Lord's servant" (34-38).
What was Mary's response? Look at verse 34. "'How will this be,'
Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'" Mary was not negative,
but had a scientific question. Her question shows a positive response.
The angel taught her in verse 35: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." When the angel
expounded that Mary's pregnancy was not an accident, but was precisely
the work of the Holy Spirit, Mary accepted the angel's message
absolutely. Now Mary was ready to respond to the angel's message. The
angel continued to say in verses 36,37, "Even Elizabeth your relative
is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be
barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
Again the angel convinced Mary that nothing is impossible with God. She
realized that her destiny is absolutely in the hand of God. She also
realized that even if she had rejected God's plan, God would carry it
out anyway. She could have been very rebellious and rejected the
angel's message, but Mary decided to obey. Look at verse 38. "'I am the
Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.'
Then the angel left her." When Mary said this, she was not speaking
from her emotions, or with blind resignation to fate; she said this on
the basis of God's promise.
God had to choose a woman to be the mother of Jesus. Of all women,
God chose Mary--a woman pledged to be married. Why? Was it because she
looked so beautiful, like the picture of Mona Lisa? No. God chose her
simply because she loved God and was happy to obey God's word
absolutely. An obedient woman may be the symbol of a mother. So Mary
was the most proper person to be the mother of Jesus. One woman's
obedience to God is truly great. May God bless American women to be as
obedient as Mary.
We learn, in this passage, how precious one woman of obedience is.
We also learn that we can be true holy pilgrims when we have faith in
God's promise of eternal life and believe in the kingdom of God.