Summary: An analysis of the account regarding the announcement of the birth of Jesus will show us how to respond to God's word.
Let us continue our study in the Gospel of Luke that I am calling, “To Seek and to Save the Lost.” Today I would like to study the passage in which we see the birth of Jesus foretold.
The announcement—or, annunciation—of the angel Gabriel to Mary that she will conceive and bear a son has been painted by scores of artists throughout the centuries. Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation (c. 1472 – 1775) is housed in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence, Italy. Da Vinci depicts Mary sitting outside her house reading the Old Testament Scriptures. The angel Gabriel is in front of her and greeting her. He is holding a Madonna lily in his left hand, which is a symbol of her purity. Interestingly, many of the “annunciation” paintings have a lily somewhere in the scene. Mary appears calm, although we know from Luke that she was initially “greatly troubled” (1:29). Mary was about to receive the greatest announcement that had ever been given to a person.
Let’s read about it in Luke 1:26-38:
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
One British Bible commentator says that if you ask a newspaper editor what sort of stories will sell the most copies, three categories come swiftly to mind: sex, royalty, and religion. If they can be combined, so much the better. “POP STAR’S LOVE CHILD” is good; “PRINCESS HAS SECRET AFFAIR” is better; “KING’S SECRET NIGHT WITH NUN” is better still.
So when people read the story of Gabriel visiting Mary, with the child to be born being the future Lord of the world, their minds easily jump in the way the newspapers have conditioned them to do. People have read into the story all sorts of things that aren’t there, and have failed to notice some of the really important things that are there.