PURPOSE: Since becoming a Christian is the most important thing to happen in one’s life there are many similarities to our lives with Mary, the mother of Jesus; We received a special call, and appearance from our God; We have been given a message to share with all people; We must be obedient to God if we are to be counted faithful; We have a right worship of God and His Son Jesus; and we worship with expectation of His soon coming and with patience we wait for Him.
OUTLINE FOR Luke 1:26-56:
I. A MAGNIFICENT APPEARANCE (vv. 26-28).
II. A MAGNIFICENT MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ALL PEOPLE (vv. 29-37).
III. A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE (v. 38).
IV. A MAGNIFICENT WORSHIP (vv. 39-55).
V. A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE (v. 56).
There are probably many things in life which we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell that we could call “Magnificent”. However, when it comes to the eternal things truly only one thing, and person can be called “Magnificent”, and that is the appearance, message, obedience, worship, and patience of our Lord Jesus. He is truly MAGNIFICENT!
A MAGNIFICENT APPEARANCE (vv. 26-28). In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy the angel Gabriel appears in Nazareth to a young virgin girl by the name of Mary. When we have no reason to doubt the Word of God we must believe that when God says she was a virgin, then she was indeed a virgin.
Gabriel is the one who had appeared to Elisabeth some months before, and now appears to Mary with the news that she will have a child. How must have Mary felt at the appearance of Gabriel? Shocked, unbelieving? Now remember this was a period of time when visions, spiritual experiences with angels was a rare thing. God had not spoken through prophet or angel for 400 years. How would Christians of today  react if our Bibles were taken away, and there was no more revelation from God for so many years? I dare say that that would be a test that would certainly separate the confessors from the possessors. It seems to be the case in Jerusalem and Israel during the days of Zachariah, Elisabeth, and Mary as well.
With the appearance of the angel comes words of encouragement, words to be remembered by all. “Thou art highly favored”, “Blessed art thou among women”, and “the Lord is with thee” are words we can trust and believe and rest in.
It is God who sent Gabriel to Mary. He has a specific message for Mary, and that is that she will have a Son; not just any son of man; but He will be the Son of God, and Son of man. We will get to Mary’s question in the next point. Let me stress this at this point; Mary was not an “Unwed mother”. Note the instructions to Gabriel, “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph…” Espousal was more than an engagement; at least as we know engagement here in the USA; it was a binding covenant made earlier, and could only be broken by a writing of divorce. There had, however, been no consummation of the marriage by sexual intercourse.
Truly this appearace by Gabriel to Mary was a Magnificent Appearance.
A MAGNIFICENT MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ALL PEOPLE (vv. 29-37). Troubled as most of us would be the angel gives her words of comfort, and tells her she has been favored by God. It has been decreed by God through Gabriel that Mary is “Full of grace”, which means she is a receiver of grace, not a dispensor of grace. This same term is used in Ephesians 1:6 “he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (KJV); and is reference to all who are in Christ Jesus. Anyone who would use this to give Mary co-redeemtrix rights is Biblically incorrect.
This is the first, and last miracle virgin conception of God. Let me give you the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY definition of the word “MIRACLE”:
“1. An extraordinary event manifesting a supernatural work of God; 2. An unusual event, thing or accomplishment: WONDER, MARVEL…“
Now, my definition of miracle is a little different than that:
A miracle is an act of God where He breaks through the laws of what is natural, to accomplish a greater purpose for His glory.
God transcends the laws of nature that He has made, and can at any time, any place, and with or without anyone or anything perform what we would call “Miracle”. With Mary God would perform a first. “The virgin will conceive, have a son…” Isaiah 7:14 (HCSB) were the words of God through the prophet Isaiah to king Ahaz. Though the prophecy had a lesser fulfillment in Isaiah’s day, it was fully fulfilled in Mary’s conception of Jesus Christ. Though Isaiah would not know of whom God was speaking , futuristically, the LORD had one specific young woman for this task, ie. the task of giving birth to the Messiah, and her name was Mary.
With the medical technology we have today I really don’t understand why anyone would have a problem believing in a virgin’s conceiving a child. Though today’s virgin conceiving would be by “arificial insemination” or “invitro fertilization” it is still possible, yet the seed implanted would still be a human father, and not God. God also placed His seed in the womb of Mary without any means other than His Word.
The angel telling her she will have a Son, and also tells her His name. In the prophecy of Isaiah he calls Him “Immanuel” meaning “God with us”, and here “Jesus” means “The Lord is salvation”. Both names are for our Lord Jesus, and they fit Him. He would be the means of grace and mercy and salvation to all nations.
Notice these great things that are given to Jesus:
1. He will be called the Son of the Highest;
2. He will receive the throne of David;
3. He will reign over the house of Jacob;
4. His kingdom will have no end.
Mary, knowing that she was a virgin; asked Gabriel, “How can this be since I have not been with a man?” The answer to this came by the angel basically letting Mary know that this was a “God thing”. It did not require a man, but God had chosen her to be the vessel to bear His Son, give birth to His Son, and to teach Him godly living, and faith.
One thing which we must note right now is that God chose godly, expectant, faithful people to bear two of the most influential people ever born to man. We are told of Zachariah’s and Elisabeth’s “Righteousness”. We are also told that Mary was “full of grace” before God (Ephesians 1:6). The only righteousness that is worthwhile for us is God’s righteousness, and He gives that to us by GRACE.
News of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, and the approaching birth of her promised son was told to Mary. This may have helped confirm the angel’s message to her. It does confirm to Mary and all who will believe that there is nothing impossible with God.
A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE (v. 38). Too many people fight, kick, and murmur and complain about the will of God. Then, when it is all over think, “Well! Why didn’t He call me and use me?” Is there any young lady, who is a virgin, be willing to do what Mary did? There are too many young people and adults who are too self-centered; who are looking out for themselves, and care nothing for living for God, and faith.
After the angel Gabriel tells Mary of her “Highly favored” situation with God Mary’s response is one of obedience. This is not evidence of her placement into a divine position as co-redeemtrix with Christ, or of her supposed immaculate conception. It is simply her willingness to be a tool for God’s purpose and His glory. It is nothing more than what any of us can do; and that is being a willing, obedient vessel for God’s glory.
We – Christians – are in fact doing just that when Christ becomes our Lord and Savior. The Seed of God is given to us, resurrecting our dead spirit, and empowering us with the Spirit of God. Consider John’s [the apostle] letter, writing;
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:9 (KJV)
The above verse, of course, addresses the practicing of sin in a habitual fashion, and as a way of life. The part I am dealing with is the “His Seed…” portion. It is God’s Seed that cannot sin. It is God’s Seed that gives the Christian life, and the heart to hate evil, and all sin.
It is just as much A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE when any child of God hears the voice of God, and is moved to obey in faith believing all that God has said to do.
A MAGNIFICENT WORSHIP (vv. 39-55). Mary, now, having conceived in her womb the Son of God journeys to the home of Zachariah and Elisabeth and stays for three months. Mary probably stayed until the birth of John Baptist; because we are told, taking verse 24 and 26, that it was six months that Elisabeth was with child, Mary stayed three months (v. 56), so surely she stayed until the baby John was born; and could very well have been there when Zachariah’s tongue was loosed (v. 64).
Upon Mary’s arrival to the house of Elisabeth John leaps in his mother’s womb, and Elisabeth is filled with the Spirit. Songs of praise and adoration break out from both women.
“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
The words are those of Elisabeth. She recognized the one who was carrying the Son of God within her, by the voice of His mother’s greeting. Elisabeth was giving blessing to Mary because she had been the willing, chosen vessel by God to carry the Son of God in her womb. Elisabeth’s initial thought was of her unworthiness to be in the presence of the mother of her Lord.
How could Elisabeth even know that Mary was bearing a child, little lone, that she was bearing a son, and not just any son, but the very Son of God? The work of the Spirit of God. The “Fruit of thy womb” of course was Jesus, and He is blessed, and He blesses all who come to Him. Elisabeth even recognizes that Mary has given the utmost of her life to our Lord, surrendered to Him, and is blessed because of who He is; and because of this God is about to fulfill His will in and through her.
Now take a look at Mary’s song:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his descendants forever.
Luke 1:46-55 (HCSB)
Note that Mary does not congratulate herself, but gives glory to our Lord; to the greatness of the Lord. She rejoices in the fact that she has “found favor” with Him; and she refers to “God my Savior”, recognizing her need for God as Savior alone. With Elisabeth’s and Mary’s praise we have much to practice in praise, worship and adoration.
A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE (v. 56). Wouldn’t it have been fascinating to be in that house those three months? Both the mother of John the Baptist, and the mother of Jesus the Christ going about household duties, chores, and since Elisabeth is the elder one, and having a baby probably needing some assistance from Mary.
For three months Mary is learning from her cousin the things that only women can learn from one another; what an elderly woman can teach to a younger; and they probably spent much time in worship of the MIGHTY ONE of Israel. For three months Elisabeth draws ever nearer to the day when she will give birth to John, Mary begins showing signs of pregnancy, and grows more and more expectant for her nearing day.
All mothers have, and show patience for that awaited day when the labor pains begin (though not looking forward to the pain, but the outcome), and they begin the birthing process. Expectancy, excitement, rejoicing are great words to use to express the heart of that mother when her child is born; but can you imagine the joy that was in the heart of Elisabeth as John is born, knowing that he will be the first prophet since Malachi, around 430 B.C.; and that he will be the herald for the Messiah who is to be born only six short months later. They are seeing the evidence of God’s message returning to His people who have been in darkness for so long; and this is without the Ark of the covenant.
“Patience is a virtue”, someone has said. Much is said of patience by the apostle Paul. As Mary needed and displayed patience while with Elisabeth the Christian today needs to be patient in living for Jesus Christ. The heart of the Christian is looking for the appearing, the coming of Jesus once again. Have you ever heard someone who professed to being a Christian say, “I don’t want Jesus to come back today!”? My question to that would be “Why not?” What is more important than the coming of Jesus? That is the heart of the truly born again believer.
I can almost guarantee that the most important thought in Mary’s life; when she received the announcement that she was going to carry and give birth to the Son of God; was not “What is Joseph, and my parents, and others going to say?” Her thought was most likely, “In nine months the Messiah will be born, and for these nine months God has given grace, to me, to bear His Son.” Nine months to display patience. Nine months to plan, prepare, and proclaim the coming of the Lord.
We do not know the day or the time of our Lord’s coming for His Church. We have been given an indefinite time to plan, prepare, and proclaim the coming of the Lord. We too can display A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE. A Patience that is found only through the faith and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
-Tim A. Blankenship