Perhaps you have taken a look at Luke’s Christmas account in preparation for Christmas, or you are planning to soon. As I was reading Luke 1 yesterday morning, I had some thoughts that came to mind from Mary’s interaction with Gabriel.
This year I have tried to forget that I know the Christmas account and see it with fresh eyes. I have enjoyed a fresh look at the different reactions to the news of Jesus’ birth. It is easy for us to forget that Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, the shepherds and others did not know the information we know. They were living through this in real time. They did not have the outcome presented to them from the beginning. Some of them were struggling with the miraculous nature of it all.
Mary was amazed, startled, and struggling with the birth announcement. Consider her situation. She was betrothed to Joseph. Jewish betrothal was a legal agreement of marriage, but the betrothed couple could not live together as husband and wife. The marriage consummation had to wait until a ceremony and feast were celebrated. According to the scholars, the betrothal period would last for about a year. Mary was a virgin, in a legally binding agreement to be married to Joseph.
Suddenly, an angel appeared to her to tell her that she would have a son. The appearance of the angel had to be shocking, and the announcement only added to the shock. Not only would she have a son, but this Son would be the Son of the Most High. He would be given David’s throne and reign forever (Luke 1:31-33).
No wonder she questioned the message. “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34b). It was a legitimate question. How can a virgin have a child? No other virgin in all of history has ever conceived. This is shocking news. Indeed, how will this be?
Then Gabriel explained that this Child would be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and He would be none other than the holy Son of God (Luke 1:35). Then Gabriel gave Mary verification through another miracle. Mary’s elderly and formerly barren relative, Elizabeth, was also going to have a son (Luke 1:36).
Then Gabriel gets right to the point with Mary, “…nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Nothing is impossible with God. He can cause an elderly couple to be fruitful. He can make a virgin conceive.
I love the response of faith that Mary displays. I have no doubt that Mary still had questions. How can anyone but God understand His miracles? The virgin conception and birth of the Lord Jesus is still something beyond us. How can God become human? How can a virgin be caused to conceive? That is the wonder of the Christmas account. It is not meant to be understood. It is meant to be received by faith and wondered at. That is exactly what Mary did. She simply trusted the Lord’s Word and submitted herself to His will as His servant (Luke 1:38).
Perhaps you struggle with the question, “How can these things be?” Perhaps you struggle with the unhealthy expectation to explain these miracles to a doubting friend. Or, maybe, you have a friend who refuses to believe this and other miracles unless it can be explained scientifically.
Allow me to encourage you. Part of the wonder of God is not being able to understand Him. He is beyond us and incomprehensible in His ways. Yet, He has revealed what He wants us to know about Him. This does not mean that He has given us the answers to our “how” or “why” questions. He has revealed Himself and His works to us so we may receive Him by faith.
Faith does not have to understand everything. Actually, faith indicates that we don’t understand everything. Faith rests in the One who does understand everything. Faith trusts the One for whom nothing is impossible. Faith says, “Behold, I am the Lord’s servant; let it be as Your Word says.”
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