“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end’ ” (Luke 1:26–33.
An angel? That didn’t happen every afternoon! Was he big? Carrying a flaming sword? Of course she was “deeply troubled!”
When Daniel was introduced to Gabriel, the Old Testament prophet fell on his face, “terrified!” (Daniel 8:17). When the angel introduced himself to Zechariah saying, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you” (Luke 1:19), the old priest was “terrified and overcome with fear” (Luke 1:12).
When the great messenger from heaven appeared to Mary, I’m sure she was immediately fearful, frightful, and confused. Competing thoughts must have raced through her mind. “Who is this guy? Where did he come from? What’s this about being pregnant? Don’t be afraid? Are you kidding? Pregnant? That can’t be! How am I gonna tell Joseph?”
To still her drumming heart, God’s heavenly ambassador said, “Do not be afraid, Mary” (Luke 1:30). Unbeknownst to Mary, that was the same message presented to Joseph, her husband-to-be. “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid”(Matthew 1:20). To Mary’s uncle, Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah!” (Luke 1:13). Nine months later, God’s messenger spoke to shepherds outside of Bethlehem. “Don’t be afraid” (Luke 2:10).
Ponder that for just a moment… Fear not! Maybe that’s God’s message for me and you…
Fear not? Mary was just a young girl, a virgin, probably just a teenager. She would be accused of a capital offense! The Mosaic law was clear. “If there is a young woman who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man encounters her in the city and sleeps with her, take the two of them out to the gate of that city and stone them to death—the young woman because she did not cry out in the city and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s fiancé. You must purge the evil from you” (Deuteronomy 22:23–24). Even if she was allowed to live, her life was ruined! Her dreams were dashed!
And then, what was that about the name Jesus… “Jehovah saves” … and “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” (Luke 1:31-32)? Wow!
In God’s providence, in His sovereign plan, He chose a little girl, from a little village, in a little country, to carry, birth, and mother, the Almighty wrapped in human skin. That’s amazing! That’s God’s “favor” (Luke 1:30) … God’s grace!