|Angel Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary, Murillo, c. 1655|
Immediately following the angel Gabriel’s announcement of the Forerunner John’s birth to a priest in the Temple (Luke 1:5-25), Gabriel appears again, this time to a virgin named Mary, and this time he announces the birth of the Messiah Himself (Luke 1:26-38). Then the two expectant women, Elizabeth and Mary, celebrate the joy of the coming Messiah (Luke 1:39-45), and Mary’s Magnificat sounds forth the magnificent praise of the Messiah’s fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (Luke 1:46-56).
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 1:26-56 to teach believers that the birth of the Messiah would signal the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s Covenant with Abraham, David, and Israel.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about Jesus’ birth announcement.
Read: Luke 1:26-56
1. The Annunciation unveils the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (Luke 1:26-38).
2. The Holy Spirit unveils the inauguration of the Renewed Covenant (Luke 1:39-45).
3. The Magnificat unveils the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (Luke 1:46-56).
Exposition: Note well,
1. THE ANNUNCIATION UNVEILS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE DAVIDIC COVENANT (LUKE 1:26-38).
a. Luke 1:26 – In Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy in Nazareth, a small, insignificant Galilean village of 1,500 or so residents, never mentioned in the OT or Jewish writings, and its existence questioned by liberals until an inscription was found in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima bearing the name of the town.
b. APPLICATION: No matter the insignificant place we find ourselves, God knows where we are and His sheltering eye is on us to prepare us for His work.
c. Luke 1:27 - Mary is a parthenos (virgin), a young unmarried girl 12-15 years old. She is bound by legal marriage contract to wed Joseph (of the house of David) yet still living with her family. While no physical contact was permitted, Mary was still considered Joseph’s wife. She is perplexed (Luke 1:29) because she had not yet known a man (Luke 1:34), but the Holy Spirit would overshadow her(Luke 1:35; 9:34; Matt 1:18-23; Isaiah 32:15; same verb used in Acts 1:8; Num 10:34 in LXX; ).
d. APPLICATION: Favor is connected with simple trust in God’s faithfulness. Zecharias the priest asked the angel for a sign (Luke 1:18). Mary the virgin girl of Galilee submits in simple faith to the Lord.
e. Gabriel follows the typical OT birth announcement structure, especially Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
i. His name would be Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus – “YWHH is salvation” v. 31.
ii. He would be great, a title generally reserved in Scripture for God Himself v. 32.
iii. He would be called “Son of the Most High” v. 32. Most High is Greek translation of Hebrew name El Elyon “God Most High.” And Lord God from YHWH Elohim “YWHH God,” found in Genesis 1-2.He will sit on David’s Throne v. 32. “Throne of his Father David” v. 32 – Straight from Davidic Covenant 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89) Language of v. 32-33 derives from 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and identifies this baby as the Mighty God of Isaiah 9:6-7, clearly a divine title. Father-Son relationship with God as promised to David (Luke 1:35).
f. The angel Gabriel emphasizes God’s grace (Luke 1:29-30, 34-35, 38), the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) in announcing the birth of the Son (Luke 1:32-33, 35) of the Most High (upsistos, El Elyon, cf. Gen 14:18-20; Num 24:16; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28; Acts 16:17; Heb 7:1), the ruling heir of David’s kingdom (Luke 1:32-33; 2 Sam 7:12-13, 16; Matt 1:1-16; Rom 1:3-4). There will be no end (Daniel 2:44; 7:14, 18, 27; Matt 3:2).
g. APPLICATION: God always keeps His promises. Gabriel’s announcement to Mary was the fulfillment of a promise made 900 years earlier to King David. Jesus would reign forever on His father David’s throne.
h. Luke 1:37 – What is harder? For an old woman to give birth? Or for a virgin to give birth? Elizabeth is too old to give birth. Mary, just entering her teens, betrothed yet not wed, is too young. God takes the impossible and the unlikely and uses them extraordinarily. (Matt. 19:26). Mary’s miracle is intended to be greater and to surpass Elizabeth’s, because Jesus is greater than John. Note the similarity to Sarah, too impossibly old to bear a child (Gen 18:13-14). Mary has more faith that God will birth a child through a virgin than Sarah did through an old woman (Gen 18:12-15).
i. APPLICATION: The Virgin Birth is an historical fact and is a non-negotiable in our faith. Jesus’ conception was without the agency of a man (Luke 1:35a), and was free of sins corruption (Luke 1:35b), but he was a fully human descendant and heir of David (Luke 1:27, 32-33) and the Last Adam (Luke 1:31) yet without the imputed, federal guilt of Adam’s initial sin (Rom 5:12-19; Gen 5:3; 1 Cor 15:22).
j. Luke 1:38 – I am the Lord’s servant – Hannah uses this same phrase (1 Sam 1:11). Being the servant of God is significant. The first servant was Abraham “my servant” who is an example of belief to whom Luke refers much in his gospel and Acts, then Moses “my servant”, but Moses did not enter the land because of unbelief.
k. APPLICATION: Humility and willingness are the qualifiers for being used by God, not education, talent, or gifts. John Maxwell: “Your gifts and talents can take you where your character cannot keep you.”
l. Note that in contrast to Bathsheba the adulteress from whom David bore Solomon the greatest king of Israel, this humble servant Mary would bear the son and Lord of David, the greatest King of all.
m. David’s firstborn son from Bathsheba died as punishment for the bloodguilt of David’s murder of the loyal Uriah, but the firstborn, virgin-born Son of David would die to remove the punishment for the bloodguilt of an entirely disloyal world.
2. THE HOLY SPIRIT UNVEILS THE INAUGURATION OF THE RENEWED COVENANT (LUKE 1:39-45).
a. Luke 1:39 – “into the hill country, to a city of Judah,” the area of Jerusalem and south. Probably in the hills around Jerusalem. The journey would have taken Mary 3-5 days and would have been dangerous for a girl her age.
b. Luke 1:41 – The baby leaped in her womb: Leaping is an expression of joy (Mal 4:2). David “leaped and danced” before the Lord (2 Sam 6:16). Babies in utero are known to respond. Jacob and Esau struggled in the womb (Gen 25:22). Elizabeth filled by the prophetic Holy Spirit, knew the importance of her son as the forerunner, but more importantly the importance of the pregnancy of Mary, and that she bore “my Lord” as in my king the Messiah (2 Sam 24:20-21).
c. The order of the Covenants in this passage, the Davidic, then the Holy Spirit, then the Abrahamic are differing aspects of the same covenant. This New Covenant is really no different from the Davidic Covenant or the Abrahamic Covenant mentioned in Mary’s Song below. Both at the beginning and end of Luke, women respond to the Holy Spirit in proclaiming the Good News to others.
d. APPLICATION: Like the two women at the tomb at the end of Luke, we all must respond to the Holy Spirit, being filled with Him in order to proclaim the Good News to others.
3. THE MAGNIFICAT UNVEILS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT (Luke 1:46-56).
a. This song of praise is called the Magnificat, from the first word of the song in the Latin Vulgate (c. AD 400). The keynote of the song is favor and grace, first spoken by the Angel Gabriel. We see the favor to the virgin in the first stanza (Luke 1:46-49), eternal favor to all his humble and poor ones in the second stanza (Luke 1:50-53), and in the third stanza, favor to Israel in a line from Abraham to the glorious future now opening (Luke 1:54-55). Then she must not have stayed at Elizabeth’s for the birth but because of so many people around, conscious of her growing womb and without a husband, she returned home to talk to Joseph (Luke 1:56).
b. Note that this young woman responds in perplexed faith as opposed to the terrified priest Zacharias, who lives in full accordance with Moses’ Law, responds in unbelief, a parallel to the barren woman Hannah and the unbelieving priest Eli. The Magnificat mirrors Hannah’s Prayer, proving that Elizabeth and Mary understood Hannah’s Prayer to be more than a prayer for a son, but for the Son.
c. The theme is the great reversal of salvation (Luke 1:52-53). The servant Mary sings of the servant Israel (Isaiah 41-49). Many lines are quoted exactly or approximately from Hannah’s Prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. In both cases a humble and obscure servant bears an agent of revival and transformation to the coming generations.
d. Luke 1:55 - Note the link with Abraham’s covenant. We see reference to all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:49) and ends with the servant Israel, and Abraham and his descendants (as in Gen 12:1-3; 17:3-8; Rom 4:16-17).
e. How could a young, uneducated country girl compose such a magnificent prophetic poem? In the first place the question is chauvinistic and arrogant. In the second, Mary obviously was well acquainted with her Bible in memorization and song as she modeled her song on the prayer of Hannah (1 Sam 2:1-10).
f. Magnificat references: Luke 1:46 – (1 Sam 2:1; Psalm 34:2); Luke 1:47 – (Psalm 35:9; Hab 3:18); Luke 1:48 – (1 Sam 1:11; Gen 29:32; 30:13); Luke 1:49 – (Psalm 71:19; 111:9; 126:3; Isaiah 42:13); Luke 1:50 – (Psalm 103:17); Luke 1:51 – (Psalm 89:11/10; 136:12); Luke 1:52 – (1 Sam 2:7; Job 12:19; 5:11; Psalm 113:7); Luke 1:53 – (1 Sam 2:5; Psalm 107:9; 109:9); Luke 1:54 – (Psalm 98:3: Isaiah 41:8, 14). Luke 1:55 – (Gen 17:7, 19; Exodus 3:11-13; Micah 7:20)