Chapter 7

 

“How can these things be?”

 

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:34-38)

 

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced God’s grace and mercy to her. He told her that she had been chosen of God to be that virgin through whom the Messiah would come into the world, by whom the Seed of woman would come, through whom God the Father would send his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to save his people from their sins.

 

God the Spirit has recorded for our learning all that is needful for our soul’s edification regarding the mystery of the incarnation of our blessed Savior in the few verses before us. I call your attention to six things in these verses.

 

The Wonder of Faith

 

Earlier in this chapter (vv. 18-20), we saw that when Zacharias asked, “Whereby shall I know this?”, his question was an expression of unbelief. Yet, when Mary asked virtually the same thing, her question was an expression of faith (v. 45). Zacharias asked what he did because he looked upon the promise of God as a thing impossible. Mary asked what she did because she looked upon the promise of God as astonishing.

 

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” — Mary’s words are an expression of admiration. She knew that the Son of God was coming into the world in human flesh, that Messiah must come into the world as a woman’s seed, untainted by Adam’s transgression, that God was going to send his Son into the world through the womb of a virgin; and now she knew that she was that virgin!

 

These words expressed her desire to know how the Lord would do this great, wondrous thing. She did not question the fact that God would do as he said. She simply desired to know how he would do it. She did not doubt that the Lord would do what he said. She simply desired to know how he would do it.

 

Mary could not imagine how such an amazing work could be accomplished, since she was indeed a virgin, as she put it, “Seeing I know not a man.” True faith often expresses itself in words of amazement and astonishment. David was astonished at God’s promise to him and his house, but he believed the promise (2 Samuel 7). Mephibosheth was astonished that David would look on such a dead dog as he thought himself to be before such a magnificent king; but he believed David’s word. So it is with God’s people. We often ask, “Why would the Lord love me?” “Why would he choose me?” “Why would Christ die for me?” “How can God use me?” Yet, we believe that which the Lord God has revealed in his Word.

 

The Mystery of The Incarnation

 

In response to Mary’s question, Gabriel explained the mystery of the incarnation with absolute reverence, using the simplest words possible to declare the most profound mystery in the universe.

 

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (v. 35).

 

We ought always to follow this angelic example of utter reverence regarding the things of God. Vain questions, carnal debate, idle speculations about holy things are utterly out of place. Divine things are divine. They are to be treated as divine. Here is the great mystery of godliness. “God was manifest in the flesh!” — “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Robert Hawker rightly observed…

 

The Word of God teacheth, that all the persons of the Godhead were engaged in the formation of the human nature of Christ. Concerning God the Father, it was said by Christ, under the spirit of prophecy, ages before his incarnation: A body hast thou prepared me. Compare Psalm 40:6 with Hebrews 10:5. And that God the Son had a hand in it is evident, for the Holy Ghost by Paul saith; that He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. And again, He took of flesh and blood. Hebrews 2:14 & 16. And in this Chapter we have the wonderful relation of the part which God the Holy Ghost had in the work, in his overshadowing power.

 

When God sent his Son into this world, a body as prepared for him called, “that holy thing,” in which our redemption could be accomplished (Hebrews 10:5). He took part of our flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14). He became what we are. When he came into this world, he took hold of the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2:15), took hold on his covenant people to save them.

 

This great Savior was “made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4-6). Yet, our great Savior is himself God (Colossians 2:9). What more should be said? What more can be said. To go beyond these simple statements of divine Revelation would be to foolishly rush in where angels fear to tread and darken counsel by words without knowledge.

 

The Work of the Triune God

 

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (v. 35).

 

As the incarnation was a work involving all three persons in the Triune God, the salvation of our souls is the work of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were chosen by God the Father in eternal election, purchased by God the Son in effectual redemption, and sanctified by God the Spirit in sovereign regeneration.

 

Yet, we must not fail to notice the unique work of God the Spirit, with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ. As God the Father always points to and glorifies Christ, so God the Spirit always points us to and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Did God the Son come into this world in human flesh? It was God the Spirit who prepared a body for him in the womb of a virgin. Did the Lord Jesus die to make atonement for our sins? It is written that he “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14). Did the crucified Christ rise from the dead for our justification? It is written, “He was justified in the Spirit” (1 Timothy 3:16). Our Redeemer was “quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Does the Prince of Peace give comfort to his people? It is by the Holy Spirit who is our Comforter. Does Christ our Prophet teach us? It is by the Spirit of Truth. In all things, especially in the affair of our salvation, the Triune God is one.

 

The Condescension of Grace

 

Our God is so gracious, so good, so merciful that he condescends to help our weaknesses. Grace anticipates our weakness and inability. We see this beautifully set forth in verse 36. Though Mary believed God’s promise, though she asked for no sign, the Lord condescended to encourage her faith, by telling her of another miraculous birth by which God would fulfil his prophetic Word. — “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”

 

As soon as Mary found herself with child she took off to see her cousin, Elizabeth. How they must have helped one another. Both were in embarrassing, difficult situations. While they were together, they ministered to one another and encouraged one another in the worship of God, celebrating his goodness and his grace.

 

The Omnipotence of Our God

 

Here is the pillar of our confidence, the strength of our faith, and the solace of our souls in all things! — “With God nothing shall be impossible” (v. 37). Our peace in this world, our confidence regarding the purposes, promises and grace of our God stand and fall with our firm persuasion of our heavenly Father’s absolute omnipotence.

 

With our God, nothing is impossible! He who called the universe into being by the mere exercise of his will, he who created all things out of nothing by the hiding of his power, he who upholds all things by the word of his power can perform all his purposes, all his promises and all that we need, at all times!

 

That which is impossible with us is a piece of cake for our God. Nothing is too hard for the Lord! — “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). I cannot express the message of verse 37 any better than J.C. Ryle did in his Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke. Ryle wrote…

 

“There is no sin too black and bad to be pardoned. The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. There is no heart too hard and wicked to be changed. The heart of stone can be made a heart of flesh. There is no work too hard for a believer to do. We may do all things through Christ strengthening us. There is no trial too hard to be borne. The grace of God is sufficient for us. There is no promise too great to be fulfilled. Christ’s words shall never pass away, and what he has promised he is able to perform. There is no difficulty too great for a believer to overcome. When God is for us, who shall be against us? The mountains shall become as a plain. Faith never rests so calmly and peacefully as when it lays its head on the pillow of God’s omnipotence.”

 

Our great and glorious God is the omnipotent God, the God of omnipotent ability to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Child of God, be assured, “With God nothing shall be impossible!” He is able to complete the work of his grace in you. He is able to keep you. He is able to save you to the uttermost (Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25).

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The Lord is King! Who then shall dare

Resist His will, distrust His care,

Or murmur at His wise decrees,

Or doubt His royal promises?

 

‘Til God all-wise can make mistakes,

His pow’r abate, His love forsake,

His children must not cease to sing –

The Lord Omnipotent is King!

 

If indeed we believe God, if indeed our God is omnipotent, surrendering ourselves to him in all things should be in our minds the simplest, most reasonable thing in this world. Oh, may God give us grace to follow Mary’s example in this matter. In verse 38, she shows us by humble example…

 

The Surrender of Faith.

 

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” — The great privilege granted to Mary, like all truly great privileges, involved (at least for the present) great and costly difficulty. Though it would ultimately be her everlasting honor, for the present, Mary knew her honorable name and reputation, her marriage to a good and honorable man, and her respect from family and friend alike would very possibly be in jeopardy. These things presented no small trial to her faith. But, believing God, for the honor of God, to do the will of God, Mary was willing to risk everything. She raised no objections. She asked no questions. She asked no favors. She simply bowed to the will of God, with ready and willing heart.

 

May God be pleased to give me such grace, that I may be willing to go anywhere, endure anything, and do anything, whatever the cost, in obedience to his will, for the glory of Christ. Faith is most noble when it yields blind obedience to the will of God.

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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