© Gregory L. Jackson, 1999
A Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Glendale, Arizona 85304
#5 The Virgin Mary and the Angel Gabriel
In this lesson the children will learn that the promise made to King Ahaz, against his will, was fulfilled centuries later. The prophet Isaiah said, “A virgin shall conceive.” Luke and Matthew both show very clearly the fulfillment of this prophesy.
1. The youngest children should learn that the promise came through an angel. It is a good time to teach them that angels are messengers of God. Secondly, they should understand that the birth of Jesus was unique. He was born, as all human beings are, but He was conceived through the Holy Spirit.
2. Grade school children should consider the unity of the Bible and the fulfilling of all of God’s promises. The Gospel of Matthew especially teaches this point, but we also see it in the other Gospels. The two natures of Christ (human and divine) could be spelled out more by the teacher.
3. Since Mary was most likely a very young woman, she is an example for the confirmation age students. She was given a tremendous but unsettling promise, that she would bear a Son, a Savior. In faith she trusted God’s Word.
We often use the term angel for those who have died, especially children, and for being without sin. The term means messenger in both Hebrew and Greek. An angel speaks and acts for God but does not have the authority to go beyond his appointed task. Most of what we see on TV or in the movies is connected with the occult or sentiment.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
The sixth month refers to six months after her cousin Elisabeth conceived a boy, who would be John the Baptist. The angel Gabriel spoke to Elisabeth as well, because her baby would be the greatest of all prophets, the one to announce the Messiah, Jesus.
Notice that the angel came to a tiny village, Nazareth, in a despised province, Galilee, north of Jerusalem. He came to a poor maiden, unknown to everyone. This is how God works. He uses ordinary people to shame the wise and the powerful. It was said in those days, “Does anything good come from Galilee?”
Luke emphasizes twice that Mary is a virgin. The term is very clear. Her question makes it even clearer (verse 34), since the Holy Spirit knew that later rationalists would question it. She is engaged to be married. The engagement meant more at that time. She could be called the wife of Joseph, according to their tradition, but they had not yet celebrated their marriage at a religious ceremony or lived together. That is why Joseph could not simply drop her, and the term divorce is used in Matthew. (More on that later)
The Church of Rome emphasizes Mary having grace, but the angel is speaking about her receiving grace. God will give the world the Savior through her, so she is not the fount of grace but the daughter of grace, receiving grace from her Son. (Study Lenski, Luke, p. 40)
The Roman Catholic Church perverts the meaning of this angelic greeting and makes it Mary-centered. It is the heart of the rosary devotion, designed to reduce time in Purgatory.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Mary’s reaction was fear, the same emotion we feel when we doubt. Gabriel told Mary deeply disturbing news. Then the angel gave more details:
a. You have found favor with God.
b. You will conceive a Son.
c. He will be named Jesus.
d. He will be the Son of God and have the throne of David.
e. He will rule forever and His Kingdom will last forever.
All of these promises are very comforting, although the miraculous element made Mary astonished and makes us wonder as well. Imagine this happening in her little home, in a little village, in a province no one heard about or cared about.
How Can This Be?
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshdow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Once again, the Virgin Birth promised in Isaiah 7:14 is clarified for the skeptics. Mary asked, using a term common in the Old and Testament, "How can I have a son, since I have never been with a man?” The angel explained that the child would be conceived “by the Holy Ghost” as we confess in the Creed. Therefore, the baby boy would be a normal human baby but also the Son of God. The Christian Church has said, to summarize, “Two natures, human and divine, united in one Person, Jesus Christ.”
1. The children may want to color the drawing of the Virgin Mary.
2. How would you like to be given the responsibility of raising the Savior the world?
3. Did Mary resist the message of the angel? (Yes.)
4. Mary was afraid. What is the opposite of fear? (Answer: faith). How do we increase faith and overcome fear? (Answer: the angel spoke the promises of God. The Gospel comforts us, takes away our sin, and builds up our faith or trust in God.)
5. If someone told you that the Savior of the world was born in Yuma (or another despised or lowly city known to you), how would you react?
6. If you saw an ordinary looking man, would you think he was the Son of God?
7. Notice how much Jesus had to overcome in teaching the Gospel. He seemed ordinary to most people. He was from a despised part of the country. Some people knew Him and His family. Did they pay attention to appearances or the Word He spoke?
Next lesson: The Virgin Birth in Matthew