Summary: Why was Jesus born of a Virgin and why was that so important?
There was a sense of urgency that filled the country. A general expectancy was in the air concerning the long expected Messiah. Many Jews looked back to Old Testament Prophecy and in particular the book of Daniel concerning up coming events, and many of those people felt that the 70 weeks that Daniel Spoke of was an analogy, each day representing a year and so the 70 weeks actually meant 70 x 7 years, which for the mathematically challenged amongst us ends up as 490 years. Seeing that that particular prophecy was written around approximately 457 BC, they felt that the time was drawing near.
To say that the Jews were looking forward to the coming Messiah would be a little bit of an understatement. For 400 years foreign troops had occupied Israel and the feeling was that this Messiah would deliver them from their oppressors. And it was in this setting, this hotbed of expectancy that the scripture that Mike read this morning was set.
Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, The question is the sixth month of what, it wasn’t the sixth month of the year. Well if we had gone back a little further in the scripture we would have read the story of a Priest name Zacharias, and his wife Elizabeth. They were an older couple who had never been able to have children, a tragedy at any point in history but certainly a double tragedy for a Priest of God in a society where children were considered to be a gift from God. And into the lives of Elizabeth and Zacharias came an Angel to announce that they would have a son who would announce the coming of the Messiah. Well it wasn’t long before Elizabeth conceived and six months after that miraculous event, another one is about to happen. Kind of an interesting note in the story is that Elizabeth had a much younger relative named Mary.
And so about six months into Elizabeth’s Pregnancy an Angel named Gabriel arrived in the town of Nazareth. Gabriel is actually mentioned six times in the Bible. Four of those instances were in the book of Daniel, it would appear that this was the Angel who revealed the prophecies of God to Daniel, and twice in the book of Luke where he first spoke to Zacharias concerning Elizabeth’s delicate condition and again here.
Just a thought but I wonder if maybe it wasn’t Gabriel at all but was Gabrielle? After all if you were God would you send a male angel to break the news concerning unexpected pregnancies? Just a thought. And so the Angel came to Nazareth, which is a small town let’s pull up a map here. Nazareth is a small town that is located about 24 kilometres from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. 30 Kilometres east of the Mediterranean Sea and about 400 metres above sea level.
Here’s a picture of what Nazareth looks like today.
He didn’t just come to visit the town as nice of a town as it might have been but he came for a specific reason and the scripture continues.
Luke 1:27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Here is one of the key doctrines of the Christian Church. Gabriel didn’t just come to anyone but to a young woman, specifically a young woman named Mary and even more specifically to a young woman named Mary who the Bible tells us was a virgin. Now this isn’t the way you’d normally describe a person or either gender. You know “the other day I was in town to meet with Fred, he’s a virgin you know.” But here it was crucial to the story. Now the word that is used here in the original Greek did not have to mean virgin in the strictest sense. You will remember that the New Testament was written in Greek and the Greek word that was used in this instance was or which could mean a couple of different things, it could mean a virgin, or it could simply mean an unmarried woman or it could mean an ummarried daughter. The word itself doesn’t necessarily relate to a woman’s intimate experiance with a man. If this verse stood by itself a much more accurate translation would be “a single young lady named Mary.”
The reason that virgin is used is because verse 27 cannot be taken in isolation it isn’t complete without the explanation given in verse 34 where Mary makes this statement Luke 1:34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” More to the point, Gabriel had told Mary that she was going to have a son, and she said, “Hold on guy, there’s a small problem here and that is that I have never been with a man”