angel, Angel of the Lord, barren, birth, Christ, conception, Elizabeth, faith, favor, Gabriel, Gideon, God, God with us, Immanuel, impossible, Jesus, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Judges, Lord, Luke, Mary, Messiah, Midian, mighty, miracle, miraculous, numinous, occupied, pregnant, Rome, selah, servant, Son of God, virgin, warrior, weak
Luke 1:28-30 ESV
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.”
This reminds me a little of another event recorded in the Old Testament book of Judges.
Judges 6:11-12 ESV
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
In the days of both Gideon and Mary, Israel was occupied by foreign powers. In Gideon’s time Israel was oppressed by Midian; in Mary’s time Israel was oppressed by Rome. It seemed as if God had abandoned His people. But Angels came to both Gideon and Mary with the message, The Lord is with you. Both Gideon and Mary looked around in embarrassment and essentially said, “Who, me?”
Judges 6:13-16 ESV
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
We shouldn’t be too hard on Gideon; apparently he didn’t realise he was speaking with the Angel of the Lord. Gideon asked how the Lord could be with him, on the account that miracles had seemed to cease [there’s a message in that statement alone, cessationists, but I’ll save it for another post], and that he was the least of his father’s house and in the weakest clan in his tribe. Please, Lord, how… ? God said, I will be with you.
Luke 1:31-34 ESV
“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?”
Both Mary and Gideon seemed to have sound reasons not to believe. Just as he had reassured Gideon, He reassured Mary, I will be with you–but in an even more numinous sense:
Luke 1:35 ESV
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.”
In other words, the God’s message for Mary was not only I will be with you, but I will be conceived in you and you will give birth to Me.
Selah. [Just let that sink in for a moment.]
Matthew 1:23 ESV
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
But that wasn’t all:
Luke 1:36-37 ESV
“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.”
To strengthen Mary’s faith, the angel Gabriel told her that her barren relative, Elizabeth, had also conceived a son. If God could miraculously heal Elizabeth’s barrenness, in her old age, why couldn’t God miraculously conceive Himself in a virgin? For nothing will be impossible with God.
Luke 1:38 ESV
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.
What would happen if we stopped telling God what He can’t do and just took His Word at face value? For nothing will be impossible with God.