26 One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee 27 with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. 28 The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant. 30 Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, 31 and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. 33 He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am not married!”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. 36Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. 37 Nothing is impossible for God!”
38 Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.
Last week I got invited to go along to the Tough Mudder event and take pictures. We’ve all seen the excitement of this race through Trevor’s videos, and I thought it would be fun to get to see it in person. But I also knew there would be some hill climbing involved. And I know from experience that:
Hills + Heather’s Feet = Extreme Pain
I knew it would be hard, but I also knew it would be worth it to get to be part of the day.
Some have suggested that when Mary says ‘yes’ to the angel it is because she’s naïve, but I’m not convinced. I’m sure that she knew full well what happened what the risks of saying yes were – adultery was punishable with stoning (that’s a type of death penalty) and it’s kind of hard to make people believe that you got pregnant without committing adultery!
Yet somehow Mary seems to understand that there is something bigger going on here – that she’s being offered an opportunity to be part of a life-altering experience (even better than watching Tough Mudder!) And that the One making this offer is big enough to be able to take care of the risks in front of her.
Impossible or Blessed?
So both Mary and Zechariah experience a visit from Gabriel, the angel. They are both told not to be afraid. They are both offered life-altering, life-transforming promises that are humanly ‘impossible’. Zechariah – who seemingly has everything to gain from this transformation – thinks the whole thing is nuts. Somehow, Mary – who has everything to lose from this exchange – is willing to say yes.
God doesn’t seem to pick favourites here. He doesn’t wait for Zechariah’s ‘yes’ to bless him. And God doesn’t seem to think that the potential risks for Mary are worth not blessing her. Instead, God goes ahead and writes God’s story in and through both of these people.
- Why do you think Mary was able to say ‘yes’ to the angel?
- Why do you think Zechariah finds it so difficult to believe?
- Do their answers surprise you?
- What do you think of God’s response to Zechariah’s disbelief?
- What are some of the things you think might have happened to Mary in the short term because she said yes?
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.