Gabriel Visits Mary
“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.’” (Luke 1:26–33).
Put yourself in Mary’s place for a moment. You are young and a virgin. You are engaged to be married. Then the angel Gabriel appears to you and tells you that you’re going to give birth to a son. But you won’t be giving birth to just some other human being, you’ll be giving birth to the only Son of God! And your Son will rule in heaven forever! Would that not blow your mind? Mary had every reason to be troubled by Gabriel’s greeting. However, Gabriel encouraged her not to fear his message and reinforced that God was pleased with her and would use her as the vessel to bring salvation to all the earth.
“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.’ (Luke 1:34–37).
Mary asked Gabriel a very valid question: How am I, a virgin, supposed to give birth? God knew that Mary was a very faithful servant, that’s why He chose her to be the mother of His only Son. Some may say that this question is Mary doubting God, but I would argue that is incorrect. Mary remained faithful and was merely inquiring about the logistics of God’s plan. In contrast to God’s response to Zechariah, God didn’t punish Mary for her question. Instead, He had Gabriel inform Mary about her built-in support group, Elizabeth. Mary was related to Elizabeth and didn’t know Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age. So, Gabriel told Mary as proof that God can do anything He wants. Remember, that at this point, Elizabeth had just come out of hiding her own miraculous pregnancy.
“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. In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’” (Luke 1:38–45).
Mary was so excited at the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy that she rushed out to see her. If you read the above passages carefully, you will notice that Mary was not aware that she was carrying Jesus in her womb yet. However, when Mary greeted Elizabeth and John jumped for joy inside Elizabeth’s womb, she began to understand. At this point, Mary had only been pregnant for a matter of days, and yet John could sense the presence of our Savior from inside his mother’s womb! If this testimony doesn’t speak to a baby being alive and aware inside the mother’s womb, I don’t know what would. Before seeing Elizabeth, we can’t be sure if Mary fully comprehended the fullness of the blessing for all mankind that she was carrying. However, after Elizabeth’s exclamation to her, we can be certain that not only did Mary know she was indeed pregnant, but was carrying the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation to the world: the only Son of God, Jesus Christ!
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His name. And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His offspring forever.’ And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.” (Luke 1:46–56).
Upon finding out that she was indeed carrying the Son of God, just as the angel Gabriel had told her, Mary immediately sang her praises to God! That is a stark contrast with Zechariah, who had to spend nine months in silence to see God’s Will be fulfilled before he could sing His praises. Now read that last verse again. Mary went to see Elizabeth when she was about six months pregnant and then stayed with her for about three months. So that means Zechariah most likely bore witness to Mary and Elizabeth’s initial encounter, Elizabeth’s proclamation, and Mary’s immediate praises to God! Zechariah most likely was kicking himself for initially doubting God, especially after watching God’s blessings pour out on the two women. Moreover, Mary’s testimony most likely strengthened Zechariah’s own faith.
That also means that Mary was most likely there when Elizabeth gave birth to John. Remember that fear only came over Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors, not their family members (which included Mary). At John’s birth, Mary was about three months into her own pregnancy. One can only imagine that Elizabeth used those three months to coach Mary as much as possible on what she was going to experience. Also, being young and a virgin, Mary was probably worried at the thought of giving birth.
We have no way of knowing this, but maybe Mary had not witnessed many births before John’s. Gabriel telling Mary about Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy was part of God’s plan to let Mary get some training in carrying a baby and in childbirth. After all, Mary had no idea that about six months after John’s birth, Jesus’ birth would happen in a barn in Bethlehem with only Joseph to help her. Obviously, God was not going to let any harm come to Mary and Joseph since they would birth and raise His only Son. However, Mary still had to actually give birth, so she could use all the training that she could get.
What a magnificent God we have. His Will shall always be done! And how wonderous that He would show us just how awesome and powerful He is to have His Son, Jesus Christ, born to a virgin. It was, and will be, the only true virgin birth to ever happen. And there was not just one miraculous birth in that family, but two. All who witnessed these things surely saw their faith in God grow tremendously. All glory be to God!