READ Luke 1: 26-38. The story of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is known to most people. The celebration of Christmas has left most people with at least a vague idea about the manner of His birth. But what does the Bible tell us about the earthly arrival of God's Son?
It begins with the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary. This event alone insures us of two vital facts concerning Jesus. First, His life on this earth was ordained and planned by God the Father. Jesus life on this earth was "foreordained before the foundation of the world." (1 Pe. 1:20) God knew before He created the world and all that was in it, that He would one day send His Son to earth to save men from their sins.
Secondly, the plan of God was meticulously worked out by God Himself. There were many things that had to be fulfilled before Christ would come. Every single person whom the Lord would interact with had to be present. Every necessary role had to be filled, ie: a righteous man to serve as Jesus' dad, an emperor who would call for an empire wide census, twelve men that would follow Him during His ministry, including one who would reject and betray Him. It was only when "the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law." (Gal. 4:4)
In the events described in Luke 1: 26-38, we begin with God sending the angel Gabriel to the city Nazareth. He is to visit a virgin named Mary who is betrothed (engaged) to a man named Joseph. Joseph was of the family of King David. This was important because it fulfilled the prophecy that the Christ would be of David's lineage. (2 Sam. 7: 12-15, Isaiah 11: 1-5) Equally important is that Mary was a virgin; she had never had intercourse. This is also offered as an objection by Mary to Gabriel in verse 34. You see, this was necessary in order for this Jesus to be the Son of God. This also fulfilled the prophecy found in (Isaiah 7:14). Gabriel explains this process in verse 35, eliminating any possibility that God's Son was in reality the seed of a man.
In verse 31 Mary is told the child will be called "Jesus". Jesus is a variation of the Hebrew name Joshua, it's meaning is "God saves" or "God is salvation". Verse 32, "He will be "great", and will be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David." Again the fulfillment of God's promise to David. However, this throne is not an earthly throne, nor will His kingdom be an earthly kingdom. This different kingdom of which Israel was only a "type", an imperfect shadow of a better thing to come is a spiritual kingdom. It was established on earth as Christ's Church (Mt. 16:16-19). This truth is indicated in verse 33, in the fact that His kingdom will have no end. It is eternal and will continue in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21)
Gabriel mentions to Mary in verse 36 "Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren." Luke has recorded this account of Elizabeth's pregnancy in Luke 1:5-25. Gabriel tells Mary this to reinforce his next words in verse 37, "For with God nothing will be impossible."
One of the greatest witnesses to Mary's heart is found in verse 38. After hearing what Gabriel has said, Mary has no protests. She knows this is God's will for her, her words to the angel are simply, "Behold! the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." Mary has a great desire to serve the purposes of God.
STUDY QUESTIONS FROM LESSON ONE:
1. Why was it important that Jesus not be born of an earthly man?
2. When did God realize that He would have to send His Son to save men?
3. Whose throne would God give Jesus?
4. What is the meaning of the Hebrew name Jesus?
5. What power would cause Mary to conceive Jesus?