The Gospel According to Luke: Part 3 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

An Exposition

Luke 1:26-38: “One Special Day in Nazareth”

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Hail, favored one! The LORD is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, the LORD God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’

“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Mary said, ‘Behold, the bond slave of the LORD; be it done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-38, NASB).

Mary, an unknown peasant teenager, was given the special anointing from God to bear the Child who would be (and is) the promised Messiah, redeemer, and King. The being who was chosen to give this news was Gabriel, first mentioned in Daniel 8:16 and 9:21. It was Gabriel who gave the prophet and statesman the special revelation of what was to come into being in the years to come that would affect Israel and signal the arrival of God’s Chosen One. Gabriel would also be the angelic messenger who would give the news of John the Baptist’s birth to the aged priest Zacharias, setting off the events that would bring about God’s predetermined plan of the redemption of fallen man through the work of Jesus Christ.

Another issue brought up in these verses concerns the virgin conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is an essential doctrine of the Christian faith and an event foretold in the Scriptures (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22, 23, 34). To deny this is to render the mission of our LORD useless. If the Lord Jesus had not been conceived in the manner ordained by God, then He would have been born with an Adamic, sinful nature (Romans 5:12), and be just another man in need of redemption himself. His death on the cross would have been for nothing, and He would have died in His own sins.

He would not have been able to live the life He did, and all that He taught about Himself and His mission would have been based on a lie. There would have been no Christian faith, and we would all end up in hell for eternity because there would have been no one able or qualified to atone for our wrongs. The very redemptive plan of God would have been worthless, and all the prophecies written in the Scriptures would have been left unfulfilled and pointless and forgotten in history as well.

What about Mary herself? What do the Scriptures tell us? We can read these passages and see plainly that the LORD was with her. Her submission to the will of God has made her blessed above all women and someone to admire in terms of devotion to God and faith in His word. To see her, however, as anything but a woman favored by God is idolatry. Scripture nowhere teaches that her virginity after the birth of Jesus was restored or was in any way perpetual. She is neither a co-redemptress on equal grounds with the Lord.

Traditions and heretical teaching have put her on a pedestal that is not found in Scripture or the works of the Church Fathers (100-400 A.D.). Mariology, or devotion to Mary, began around the fifth or sixth century when the Roman church began to develop non-biblical teachings that came from papal sources and error-prone officials that are still in existence today. Mary is mentioned in Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:26-55, 2:8-20; Matthew 2:13-16; Mark 6:3; Luke 2:41-52, and John 19:25-27. After Acts 1:14, her name is nowhere mentioned or referred to in the Scriptures.

It is Jesus Christ and Him alone who is the center and purpose for which the Scriptures were written, and the One who would carry out the redemptive plan which God had ordained to be enacted through Him. Mary, in obedience to God, named the Holy Child “Jesus,” or “Yesh’ua” (Joshua), which is the Hebrew term meaning “God (YHWH) saves.” The Child’s characteristics would be His Sonship with God, the rightful heir to the Davidic throne, the rightful ruler of God’s people, the promise of a never-ending kingdom, the eternal presence of the Holy Spirit with and upon Him, and be the Savior of His people. He is the fulfilled promise of what God had declared in Eden (Genesis 3:15). He would be the One to crush Satan’s head once and for all.

Mary never questions or doubts God’s purposes and will. Her pregnancy will be visible before her wedding to Joseph, and her reputation will be questioned, if not permanently damaged by her peers and relatives for alleged promiscuity. Joseph, in His obedience to God to wed her, will also undergo social scrutiny for caring not just for his beloved wife and what she has allegedly done, but will cause some tongues to wag on whether or not he is the father of the child to come.

It is worth noting that God, in His permissive will, shows us that the men and women in the Bible were flesh and blood, and that He is sympathetic to those whose reputations are in doubt, and identifies with those whom society and life in general has set aside and forgotten. Such is His grace and mercy. Think on these things as God puts His plan into place for His grace and glory.