The Annunciation

Bible Book: Luke  1 : 26-38
Subject: Gabriel; Christ, Birth of; Christmas

Many announcements have been written across the pages of human history, but none can match the wondrous announcement that Gabriel, the angel, made to the Virgin Mary. This message is about the Annunciation. It is the story of the coming of Gabriel as a messenger from God Himself to a small village in Galilee called Nazareth.

Verses 26 and 27 comprise a timetable and a roadmap of sorts for the angel Gabriel to follow. Turn to verses 18-19 of this chapter to get a clear description of Gabriel. This portion of the chapter tells of Gabriel fulfilling an earlier assignment. He was sent by God to inform the priest Zacharias that he and his aged wife Elisabeth would finally have a child, a son that they were to name John. Astounded by this news, Zacharias asked for a sign whereby he might know that the message was the truth.

Then Gabriel responded with his identity speaking of his direct relationship with God: "I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings." Zacharias was struck with dumbness as punishment for his disbelief. His speech later returned when he stated publicly that his new son was to be named John. This, of course was John the Baptist, the cousin of our Lord and the forerunner of Christ who was sent to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus.

So, Gabriel stands in the presence of Almighty God to do His very bidding. Six months after God had sent Gabriel to announce the coming of John the Baptist, He called Gabriel to stand before Him to receive another assignment. It would be the most important assignment that we know of to date.

Gabriel received God's roadmap and he set out to accomplish God's assignment. I can imagine the occupants of heaven leaning over the balconies and looking down as God's special messenger hastened to the earth to bring glad tidings.

Notice that he was sent to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. Now that was rather miraculous in itself for Galilee was held in contempt because it was over-run with Gentiles. As far back as the time of Isaiah we find expression of this contempt (Isaiah 9:1). To Galilee, a place held in contempt the holy messenger went.

G. Campbell Morgan profiles Nazareth as a most unlikely place to receive such a holy visitor with such a glorious message.

Nazareth was situated about 70 miles northeast of Jerusalem. It was a stopping off place of sorts between Tyre and Sidon and Jerusalem. Along the major thoroughfare that passed through Nazareth traveled Roman soldiers, Greek merchants, and Jewish priests. We know today that they had about 15,000 residents in Nazareth in that day. It was one of the major cities of Galilee. It was the place where soldiers and merchants would often overnight. Nazareth was a hotbed of corruption. Without going into details you can imagine how all manner of corrupt behavior was common to this city. Doyou remember that Nathanael, upon hearing upon the Lord, said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" He was speaking as one who was familiar with the place. He was from a neighboring city and knew Nazareth quite well. When Nathanael asked the question he was revealing his knowledge of the corruption of Nazareth. Can any good thing come out Nazareth as corrupt as it is? Yet to Nazareth, perhaps one of the most corrupt towns to be found anywhere in that day, went Gabriel, the messenger of God bearing the world's greatest announcement!

There are three primary divisions of this text and I would like for us to look at each briefly. First is the salutation; second, the Annunciation; and third, the interpretation.

I. Salutation (verse 28)

The word "Hail" that is used here is a greeting that means something like: "Grace be to you." The words "found favor" may be correctly translated "endowed with grace." Therefore, the passage may well be read: "Grace be unto you; you are endowed with grace; the Lord is with you..."In the salutation we have a beautiful picture of Mary. She is a lovely young lady who is faithfully living her life for the Lord God. She is living in Nazareth with all of its corruption, in the midst of all kinds of impurity and immorality. She was endowed with grace and the Lord was with her.

Ladies, let us pause long enough here to realize what is happening. No event in history has so lifted the status of womanhood as the choosing of Mary by God as the instrument through which he would bless the kingdoms of this world and of His Christ. God didn't have to use a woman to bring Jesus into the world. He could have done it any way He wanted to, but He chose to work through a young lady who was deeply devoted to Him. At the appointed time that God chose to enter the world through Christ, He chose to do so through one woman who was walking in fellowship with God. God still uses women today who are willing to walk in harmony with the will of God for their lives!

Mary was troubled over this salutation. Now, we can understand her being troubled upon the occasion of a visit by an angel. She probably had never seen one before. It's not one of your ordinary everyday experiences. Likely, however, she was most troubled by what the angel Gabriel had said to her. The verse tells us that she did not understand the meaning of the salutation. She did not understand when the angel told her that she was endowed with grace, which causes us to love her all the more. Mary is beautiful in her innocence. She was not conscious of the beauty of her character.

In our fear of over-emphasizing Mary and under-emphasizing Jesus, we tend to neglect Mary. Mary was the elect of God to fulfill the unique office of being the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. She was not without sin. Mary was a sinner as all who have ever lived upon the face of the earth are sinners except one - Jesus the Christ. Mary, too, would need the remission of sins that would be offered to believers through the shed blood of her Son, Jesus who died upon the cross. Yet, when God chose to do His unique deed for the world, He sent His messenger to His elect, Mary, who was such a good person that she did not even know that she was good! She was so beautiful within that she did not know that she was beautiful! Now, isn't that refreshing!

II. Annunciation (verses 30-34)

When the angel Gabriel approached Mary at first he said, "Grace be unto you." Now he uses the word grace again. "You have found grace with God." The preposition "with" comes from the Greek word "para" which means "beside." "You have found grace "beside" God, or in fellowship with God. This is, of course, why Mary was chosen!

Now, Gabriel reveals the mystery: (read verses 31-33).

His name would be Jesus. Jesus is a Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. We are reminded of the successor to Moses - Joshua. Where did he get his name? It is not the name that his father called him. He was born in Egypt in slavery, and when the baby came and was preserved, they gave him the name, Hoshea, meaning "salvation." Moses named him Jehoshea, meaning Jehovah- salvation (Numbers 13:16), or "Yahweh is salvation." "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." At last, the perfect fulfillment of that name was coming to earth. The coming of Jehoshua is the only reason that you and I are able to sing:

“Saved by His power divine,

Saved to new life sublime!

Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,

For I'm saved, saved, saved!”

In verses 32 and 33, Gabriel states characteristics of Jesus which are inherent." He shall be great." Why will He be great! He will be great because He Is Great! "He shall be called the Son of the Most High." Why will he be called the Son of the Most High? Because He Is The Son Of The Most High! "God will give Him the throne of His father David and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever." Why will He reign forever? Because He Is Eternal King!

Mary's response to this astonishing news is a question. It is a simple question, a direct question and an expected question: "How can this be seeing that I am a virgin."

III. Interpretation

The angel answered Mary and the first three words of his answer say a lot: "The Holy Spirit..." The eternal answer to the spiritual question: "How?" is the Holy Spirit. How can I know that I am a sinner and stand in need of God's saving grace? The Holy Spirit! How will I know that Jesus has saved me when I believe? The Holy Spirit! How can I possibly have the power and authority in my life to live the Christian life that God has called me to live? The Holy Spirit! How can I know God's will for my life? The Holy Spirit! I would like to be able to share my faith, but I am so weak, how can I do it? The Holy Spirit! "How can this be, seeing that I know not a man?" The Holy Spirit!

Now Mary was espoused to Joseph. To be espoused was more significant than our practice of   being engaged. Usually a woman was espoused to a man for a year before she was married to him, but during that year the couple was considered as married without having consummated the marriage. The position in which Mary found herself was a difficult one indeed. She would soon show evidence of being pregnant and yet unmarried. The penalty for that sort of thing was death! The angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to assure him of Mary's faithfulness and the face that "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:20).

Mary was a virgin when she conceived. Impossible, you say? Be reminded as you read verse 37 of our test... Nothing is impossible with God!

I want to tell you some of the reasons why I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus: The Bible which is the authority on the divine work of God through human history declares that Mary was a virgin when she conceived. The evidence is there in her shock and questions. The evidence is there in the concern of Joseph which was addressed by the angel.

I believe it because it was prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14).I believe it because it is logical. Jesus left the world in a miraculous way in the ascension, it is logical that He would enter the world miraculously.

I believe it because it declares the uniqueness of Jesus. Jesus was not mere man; He was God- Man. He was altogether God as if none of man, and altogether man as if none of God. If Jesus had been the offspring of two human parents He would have been altogether man and none of God!

Then there arises the problem of original sin. All who are born of earthly parents enter the world in sin because of the original sin of Adam. Had Jesus been the natural son of Joseph and Mary He would have been under original sin in which case He could not have been our Savior.

I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin because of faith. God is God because He is able to do those things that can only be believed by faith. This is true of the miracle of salvation - "For by grace are ye saved through faith..." By faith I accept what I do not understand and cannot explain. It is the way that we demonstrate our submissiveness and our obedience to God. The person who refuses to apply faith to those things that he cannot understand is like the obstinate child who refuses to be obedient to the will of his parents and in rebellion says, "If I can't have it my way, I won't have it I at all."

God is supernatural. God chose to enter the world through Jesus by a virgin birth. Thus Jesus was born of a virgin. Alternate considerations and vocalizing philosophies from finite minds are futile!


Tremendous faith was expressed by Mary in her statement of submission: (verse 38). God was pleased with Mary's response. Unlike Zacharias who was punished because he wanted a sign that the angel was telling the truth. Mary simply said, "All right. I'm yours Lord. Do with me as you will." Her statement was one of complete surrender. Though she did not understand and could not explain, by faith she believed and accepted and submitted.

That is what God is calling upon you to do today. You cannot understand nor explain how God saves, but if you will believe that He does save through Jesus, His Son, and by faith submit yourself to Him, you will be saved right now.