Scripture reading; Luke 1:26 thru 38..
“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 having come to her, he said; 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. 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 name Him Jesus. 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, 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? And 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 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. And Mary said; Behold, the bondslave of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.”
Isn’t that kind of incredible, what Mary said to the angel? “Be it done to me according to your word.” She must have had a lot of faith! Here’s a young woman, a virgin no less, and she’s just been told that she was going to bear a son. And not just any son, but a son that is going to be fathered by the Holy Spirit of God! And he will be called the Son of God, and He will be given King David’s throne, and His kingdom will never end. And Mary says; “OK, as you say.” That’s kind of incredible!
Did Mary recognize right away that Gabriel was an angel? Obviously she did recognize that fact somewhere along the line. Mary somehow recognized that this was indeed an angel of God, and what he said, was the word of God. And so she said; “May it be done to me according to your word.”
I wish people today could simply recognize that whatever the scriptures say, that’s the word of God, and the will of God. And whatever the scriptures say, that’s the absolute truth. May it be according to whatever the scriptures say. Whatever it says, I’m in agreement. Whatever it says, I’m willing to believe it. What a world this would be, if everyone simply believed whatever the scripture says, and if they lived according to it.
We can always dream can’t we?
A lot of people don’t even recognize who Jesus is, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God! After all that’s been written, all the stories recorded for us, and people still don’t recognize that fact. Truly, the verse that I read last week, from John 1, verse 4, is fact; “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not receive it for it’s own.” The darkness simply doesn’t recognize Jesus Christ.
Recognizing Jesus, and recognizing, and accepting God’s word as truth, is paramount, to being saved. Let me read to you some of the verses that led up to the event described in our scripture reading;
Luke 1, beginning with verse 5; “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah, (Abijah was descended from Aaron) and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.”
So we have two people here, both descended from Aaron, the first thigh priest of Israel, and a brother of Moses. We’re going to learn shortly, that Elizabeth was a blood relative, of Mary, and so we know that Mary was also descended from the daughters of Aaron. All of them, related to Moses.
And of course Zacharias and Elizabeth were chosen by God, to be the parents of John the Baptist. Verses 6 & 7 tell us; “And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments of the Lord. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in days.”
And so an angel of God appears to Zacharias one day, as he was performing his priestly service, and here’s what the angel says to Zacharias, in Luke 1:13 thru 17; “..Do not be afraid , Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” The bible uses the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” several times, and it specifically means that the person or persons spoken of, would be given some kind of miraculous ability by God.
For example; The apostles, on the day of Pentecost, were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and thus were able to speak in other languages. (Acts 2:4) Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit”, and was given the words to speak, when he was arrested for preaching Jesus. (Acts 4:8) Jesus had promised the apostles, in Mathew 10:19 & 20; “But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how to speak, for it will be given you in that hour what you shall speak. For it is not you who will speak, but the spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
In Acts 4:31, many of the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” They were taught miraculously, what to say, by the very Spirit of God.
Remember as you study the new testament, that the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” means that God had given some kind of miraculous gift, to the ones being spoken of. It does NOT mean, that the person was saved, and it does NOT mean that the Holy spirit was dwelling within them, but it means that they were given a miraculous gift from God. In Acts 10:44, The Holy Spirit “fell upon” the gentiles. They weren’t saved at that moment, but they were given the gift from God, of being able to speak in other languages. In verse 47, it says that they had “received the Holy Spirit”. They had received “a miraculous gift”, from the Spirit of God.
Now let’s go back to Luke 1, verse 15. It says, concerning John the Baptist; “..and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” And we’re going to see in just a couple minutes, what I think is evidence of that. So follow with me please.
The angel who appeared to Zacharias, also told him these things, in verses 16 & 17; “And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it will be he, who will go forth before Him, (that is, before the Lord) in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the father’s, back to the children. And the disobedient, to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
That’s quite a statement! And Zacharias actually responds with a certain amount of doubt, as you could imagine he might. And it says in verse 18; “And Zacharias said to the angel, How shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in days.” That reminds me of when Abraham was promised a son. It says in Genesis 18:11; “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing.” But the Lord said in verse 14; “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”
So Zacharias has some doubts, just like Sarah had some doubts; At least Zacharias didn’t laugh at the notion, like Sarah did. But Zacharias wants “a sign”. He said, “How shall I know this?” In other words, give me a sign that this is true. Well, I doubt if Zacharias had in mind what was going to happen next, but the angel says to him in verses 19 &20;
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God!” In other words, I am close with God, in the very sight of God. “And I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.” The good news that you will have a son, who will also be close with God, and in the very sight of God.
Now it makes me think that Zacharias should never have questioned the angel Gabriel, because this is the “sign” that Gabriel is going to give him. Verse 20 says; “And behold, you shall be silent, and unable to speak, until the last day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Think about that, the next time you have any doubts about what the word of God says! If you want a sign that God’s word is true, you might just get one! We’d be wise to just believe everything that we read, and be done with it right there.
When Abraham was old, and God promised him a son, it says in Genesis 15:6; “Then he believed in the Lord, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” That’s a good verse to remember; Our faith, in what God says, is reckoned to us as righteousness. Not just believing “part” of what God says, but believing everything that God says.
So then, the angel Gabriel, said some pretty fantastic things to Zacharias. And then about six months later, Gabriel was sent to Mary, and he said some pretty fantastic things to her. Remember what we read earlier? “And 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, and 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!”
Is there anything greater, that could be said to a woman, than that she would give birth to the Son of God? But Mary didn’t understand. It’s not that she didn’t believe, but she didn’t understand. And so she asked, in verse 34; “How can this be, since I know no man?” (Since I’m a virgin?)
And the angel Gabriel answered and said; “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. And for that reason, the holy begotten, 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 is impossible with God!”
That answers Mary’s question doesn’t it? “How can this be, since I know no man?” The answer, in a nutshell; “For nothing is impossible with God!” Remember that! “Nothing is impossible with God.”
And what was Mary’s response? “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord.” In other words, “Here I am”, “Be it done to me according to your word.” Mary recognized, the will of the Lord, and she recognized, that she was simply the bondservant of God. If only we could all, simply recognize that fact.
Now here’s a part that I find especially interesting. Listen to verses 39 thru 45; “Now in these days, (or, at this time) Mary arose and went with haste, (She went with enthusiasm. She had just learned that her relative Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy, and she wanted to go see her) And so Mary, “went with haste, to the hill country, to a town of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias, and greeted Elizabeth.”
Now I’m going to read this next verse, as it’s written in the JKV; Verse 41; “And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, that the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” So it says, Elizabeth heard the salutation, and the baby leaped in her womb.
Now, listen to how that verse is originally written, and see what you notice about it. Here it is; “And it came to pass, when heard, the greeting of Mary, to Elizabeth, leaped the baby in the womb of her..” Who heard the greeting of Mary to Elizabeth? Obviously Elizabeth must have heard the greeting, because that’s who Mary was speaking to. But listen to that verse again; “When heard the greeting of Mary to Elizabeth, leaped the baby in the womb of her..” In other words; When the baby heard the greeting of Mary to Elizabeth, he leaped in her womb! The baby heard Mary’s greeting!
I titled this lesson, “Recognizing Jesus”. And here in this verse, we have Elizabeth’s baby, namely John the baptizer, leaping in the womb, when he heard the voice of the mother of Jesus Christ. We know that John was to be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and here he is, an unborn child, in the sixth month in the womb, able to recognize the voice of the mother of Jesus! That is extraordinary!
And then that verse says; “..And was filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth.” So now we have Elizabeth, also filled with the Holy Spirit. And that means that now she has a “gift from God”. And what does this gift allow Elizabeth to do? Well, now Elizabeth recognizes that Mary, her blood relative, is the mother of the Lord Jesus.
The scripture says in verses 42 45; “And she cried out with a loud voice and said; (Elizabeth cried out) “..Blessed among women are you! And blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Mary had just gotten there; Who told Elizabeth that the “fruit of Mary’s womb” was the Lord?
“And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy!” That greeting must have went straight from Elizabeth’s ears, right to the ears of her baby.
And Elizabeth said; “And blessed is she, who believed there would be fulfillment, of what had been spoken to her by the Lord!”
In other words, Blessed is Mary! Mary is the one who believed the words of the angel Gabriel, when he told her that she would conceive the Son of God in her womb. She believed that it would be fulfilled!
Blessed be everyone who believes the word of the Lord!
“And Mary said; My soul exalts the Lord; And my spirit has rejoiced in god my Savior! For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave.”
When we believe the word of the Lord, He not only has regard for us, but he reckons it to us, as righteousness.