In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 bear a son, and you shall call his name 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. – Luke 1:26-38 ESV
Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of the coming birth of Jesus is mind blowing in many different ways. Consider for a moment all of the emotions that Mary had to feel in this brief encounter. First, you have the appearance of an angel of the Lord; a startling and amazing occurrence. Next comes the greeting that she has found favor with God. Certainly God loves us all, but the list of people of whom this has been angelically declared is very, very short. Then she hears the most amazing news of all. Despite being a virgin, Mary will conceive a child; a son whom she will name Jesus. But this is not just any child, this will be the very Son of God, the long promised Messiah. So if you are keeping score, Mary was startled, scared, shocked, stunned, doubtful, confused, and finally convinced. In a moment not only has Mary’s entire world has been changed by this news but she has had no time to process the cyclone of emotions she had to be feeling.
Could you imagine finding yourself in a situation so shocking, so frightening, and yet so wonderful all at once? Personally, I am amazed that she was able to maintain her composure well enough that she could even speak, let alone talk rationally to Gabriel. But there she stood, managing her overloaded emotions and the dozens of questions that had to be flooding her mind. So when Gabriel had finished his message and it was her turn to speak, Mary replied with words that could only have come from a deeply held faith:
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to you word.”
Wait a minute. She said what? That’s it? No further questions? No demands? No doubt or anger, or fear?
Like I said: a faith-filled response.
Mary is not the first to have heard amazing news from God or one of His angels. However, unlike so many others, she managed to process this news and immediately place her trust in the God who chose to make it so. Abraham and Sarah lost faith and couldn’t wait for God’s timing to bring them a son. Then when God Himself told Abraham that she would conceive in spite of the fact that she was far too old to conceive she laughed out loud (the original LOL). Jonah heard the message of the Lord to go to the city of Ninevah. Fear led him to run away from God – an action that later proved itself to be fishy at best. Then there was Zechariah, a priest who had been told by an angel that his wife Elizabeth would also give birth to a son named John who would grow to be a prophet who would call upon the people to prepare for the coming of the Christ. Like Abraham, he also doubted because of the ages of he and his wife. He too came to the realization that the message was true in a manner that left him literally speechless. So when you consider the men and women who have come before and after Mary who have heard God’s calling and failed to accept it, her ability to manage her feelings and follow her Lord serves as a wonderful example.
Feelings and emotions can be extremely difficult to understand. Our world and our selfish thoughts have a way of distorting the view of what God has laid before us. But like Mary, even when we face things that are difficult, confusing, or consuming our first and best step is to seek the will of God and trust that in all things He is in control. His love, His strength, and His glory knows no bounds. His promises are true and His word is perfect. May we cling to Him in good times and bad that we too may be delivered to glory by the gift of Mary’s child, God’s Son, and our Savior – Jesus Christ!