Luke 1: 26-56 — Mary

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name.

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,

from generation to generation.

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones

but has lifted up the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,

just as he promised our ancestors.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Points of Interest:

  • (v.26) “a town in Galilee”—Judea and Galilee were the two Jewish regions in Roman Palestine. The prophet Isaiah—writing hundreds of years earlier—predicted that despised Galilee would become a place of honor (Isaiah 9:1).
  • (v.27) “a descendant of David”—David was the Jewish national hero, famous as a warrior, a king, and a worshipper of God. David’s reign was Israel’s golden age. David’s family still retained some respect, both out of reverence for the glorious past and out of the hope that David’s kingdom would one day be restored.
  • (v.31) “You will conceive and give birth to a son”—another of Isaiah’s prophecies says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [which means, ‘God with us’]” (Isaiah 7:14). This humble, young Galilean woman would play a part in, not just a miraculous birth, but in God himself living among his people.
  • (v.32) “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David”—yet another of Isaiah’s prophecies is referenced here (see Isaiah 9: 6-7). Luke is painting a picture for us of a people who have been waiting for a very long time for God to come and intervene in their circumstances. His story begins at the indescribably exciting moment when God finally begins to put his new rescue plan into action.
  • (v.33) “the house of Jacob”—another name for the Jews. The forefather of the Jews was Jacob, also know as Israel.
  • (v.34) “How will this be?”—just like Zechariah, Mary responds to Gabriel with a question, but her question is quite different. Amazingly, she doesn’t express any doubt at all that her child will be the promised son of David, and will reign forever; she merely wonders how God will overcome the practical barrier of her virginity to bring it about.
  • (v.41) “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit”—the Holy Spirit is the essence of God, sent to interact with human beings, conferring on them supernatural powers or abilities. Here, the Holy Spirit inspires Elizabeth with supernatural knowledge about Mary’s child and with words of blessing and praise.

Taking it home:

  • For you: When the angel calls Mary “highly favored,” she’s initially confused. She doesn’t think of herself as special, and she’s surprised that God would take such notice of her. But the whole point of Mary’s story is that God is willing and able to do astounding things for and through humble, ordinary people. Today, try on for size the idea that God notices you, likes you, and has big plans for you. Imitate Elizabeth by proclaiming God’s favor over one another, maybe just by saying something like, “You know what, God really likes you,” to someone else in your house at least once today.
  • For your Six: Mary and Elizabeth’s recent experiences are made all the more meaningful by the fact that they are able to share them with one another. Pray for the friendships of your Six. Pray particularly that God will provide them with friends with whom they can talk about their spiritual experiences. Pray that God will help you to be good spiritual friends for your Six. Ask God to make you a source of support and encouragement in the lives of your Six, just like Elizabeth is for Mary.
  • For our church/ILTJ: In this passage, God begins a new era of great things for the people of Israel. God is going to be at work among them in ways they haven’t seen for hundreds of years. ILTJ has been a launching point for new things in our church in the past year. Pray that ILTJ would be fully completed this year and a half. Pray that God will give us excitement and anticipation for the “great things” still to come for our church.