26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 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. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Who is Mary?
We learn the basics of who Mary is from Luke 1:26. It is pretty straight forward information, but it all bears noteworthy information about her.
- She is from Nazareth in Galilee
- She is a virgin
- She is engaged to Joseph, a descendent of David (2 Samuel 7:12)
- The Lord is with her
- She had found favor with God
Mary is a young teenaged girl when she is introduced to us by God through the pen of Luke.
I don’t know about you, but I have always regarded Mary to be a girl beyond her years in maturity of faith. I don’t know any teenage girls who would respond to the angel Gabriel in the manner in which Mary demonstrates. However, a well-discipled teenage girl might have the wherewithal to respond in faith as Mary.
Examples of discipleship from Mary’s encounter with Gabriel
In Luke 1:29-30 we see that Mary was afraid. The meaning of the Greek word used here is to agitate, trouble. To stir up throughout. Spoken of the mind, and elsewhere, to disturb, agitate.
We see this often in the scripture when an angel shows up to make an announcement to humans. The first, and very human, response is fear.
I have never been visited by an angel, have you? I can only imagine it would be an unsettling experience.
As a matter of fact, when I was encapsulated by the Lord Jesus years ago, it was an unsettling experience for my mind and soul. I knew change was coming and it frightened me beyond any fear I had experienced in the past. It was a fear of the unknown, the changes to take place and the disruption to my pre-Christian life.
Fear has been hard-wired into all of us when big change is on the horizon. Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s appearance was her natural human response.
When you begin the discipleship process with another, fear will likely be one of the new disciple’s greatest adversaries.
Help a disciple overcome fear with faith.
Share some of these “fear not” verses with a new believer who is frightened of the changes they will be experiencing throughout the process of discipleship.
- Isaiah 41:10
- Psalm 56:3
- Philippians 4:6-7
- John 14:27
- 2 Timothy 1:7
- 1 John 4:18
Mary’s second response to Gabriel was to question what he was telling her. She wasn’t questioning from an attitude of doubt, she was questioning from an attitude of faith.
Luke 1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
When Mary is described as a “virgin” the original language for the word “virgin” literally means one who is not intimate with a man. She knew how babies were made; she just didn’t know how that could possibly happen to her. She was a good and obedient betrothed; she wasn’t messing around on the side.
Mary’s question is a growth question. Her eyes could only see the human aspect of the scenario described by Gabriel. She was asking how. She did not ask why.
She had her plans laid out; she was betrothed to Joseph and she would be married when the year’s time had passed. This pronouncement threw a kink in her timeline.
As disciple makers we will be asked how questions all the time. Be prepared to give an answer from scripture.
When I was being discipled, I asked a lot of questions. I had no biblical background and had never owned a bible. Every bit of information I was being taught was a foreign concept. My disciple maker possessed the patience of Job and answered all my questions with compassion and patience. When my disciple maker didn’t know the answer she would pull out a reference book on the spot or she would research the answer and share it the next time we met.
Gabriel answered Mary’s question with compassion and patience.
Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message is astonishing! Her complete submission and obedience are what all disciples are to achieve.
Mary heard the message, questioned it with faith, then completely submitted to it with full confidence in the One who delivered it.
Obedience to His Word is where real growth begins.
For some disciples of Christ obedience to His Word seems as easy as walking – it comes naturally to them. For others, obedience will be a challenge.
Make sure you can identify the difference between learners, listeners, and life-giving obeyers.
- Learners take in information and may or may not obey.
- Listeners hear, but do not obey.
- Life-giving obeyers take it in and obey what they are told.
Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G1298). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.