Summary: There are five human traits that can be seen in the interaction between the angel and Mary. They will help us understand what it means to respond to God’s leadership; they are listening, learning, questioning, submitting and affirming.


Title: Responding to God’s Leadership

Text: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)

Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38, 41-45

Our message is found in the first chapter of Luke.

Of course it’s the Christmas story that we are all familiar with.

But within the story there are five human traits that can be seen in the interaction between the angel Gabriel and Mary.

They will help us to really understand what it means to respond to God’s leadership; they are listening, learning, questioning, submitting and affirming.

Let’s begin by reading verses 26-29.

It’s here that Mary is given the message from Gabriel that she is going to have a child.


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.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

God sent the angel Gabriel to appear to Mary.

Notice in verse 27 that Luke emphasizes that she is a virgin by repeating the word.

It’s important, so God emphasizes her sexual purity.

Furthermore, we know that Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph.

Mary would have been alive when Luke wrote this, and she may have been the source of the information in these passages.

We are told that Mary was in the engagement period which followed a formal agreement to marry.

Joseph had paid the brides price to her family and had accepted legal responsibility for her.

Although Joseph and Mary did not live together during this period, they were legally married.

Only divorce could break the engagement, which usually lasted about one year, and during this time Mary would have lived with her parents.

It is thought that Mary was 12-14 years old, since that was the usual age for marriage.

Joseph would have been much older than Mary.

The angel tells Mary she is a favored woman, because God has chosen her to bear God’s Son.

The emphasis is on what God’s going to do rather than Mary’s godliness or worthiness.

Gabriel said, “The Lord is with thee”, signifying that God’s mighty power is present with and on Mary.

Gabriel’s message was puzzling to Mary and caused her to become deeply troubled.

Throughout the angel’s greeting, Mary listened carefully, though she was uncertain about all she heard.

Listening is the first step for anyone who wants to do God’s will.

Christians need to listen to God in whatever ways He speaks and to whatever He says to us.


God does speak to us, but the question is, “How well do you listen to God?


In verses 30-33, Mary is learning from the angel what he meant when he said she was highly favored.

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.

Gabriel could see that Mary was disturbed by his sudden appearance, so he sought to calm Mary by telling her not to be afraid.

Jesus frequently used the words “do not be afraid” to reassure various individuals.

The angel then gave a specific reason for why Mary did not need to be afraid—she had found favor with God.

The angel stresses the point that God’s choice of her was not due to the type of person she was.

No reference is made to Mary’s goodness.

In fact, the word favor carries the meaning of “unmerited, undeserved grace.”

The angel continued the announcement by declaring Mary would become pregnant and bear a son.

He didn’t tell her precisely when she would conceive, only that she would bear a son.

Then Gabriel told her what name to give the child—Jesus.

Giving the name for the child to Mary first, instead of to the father, may indicate the child would have no earthly father.

However over in Matthew 1:21 Joseph was also instructed to name the baby Jesus: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

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