In Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent his messenger-angel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She was pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. Coming to her, the messenger said, ‘Greetings to the one to whom great grace has been given! The Lord is with you.’
(29) What the angel said greatly shook Mary and she was overcome with why he would greet her so. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, God has given you a great blessing. You will conceive and give birth to a son. You will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him his father David’s throne. He will rule over Jacob’s children and his kingdom will never end.”
(34) “Since I am a virgin, how can this be?,” Mary asked the angel.
(35) The angel answered, “The power of the MoSt High will overshadow you and the Holy Spirit will come upon you and so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even your elderly kin Elizabeth has been, despite what some have said was not possible, pregnant for six months now. Nothing God says ever fails.”
(38) Mary replied: I am the Lord’s servant. As you say, let it be.” Then the messenger left her. (Luke 1:26-38 DSV – Mary’s Conception)
1. What do we know about the town of Nazareth (vs.26)? What was it like at this time in history?
2. Mary was “pledged to be married” (vs.27 – TNIV) to Joseph. What was involved in a marriage “pledge?”
3. Who else mentioned in Scripture, and in what contexts, has received a promise similar in wording to “the Lord is with you?” (vs.28b)
4. How is the word “favored” (and the phrase “highly favored”) [vs.28b,30b – TNIV] used elsewhere in Scripture?
5. “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (vs.32-33) What does this statement mean?
6. Zechariah was struck mute when he asked Gabriel how he could be sure Elizabeth would become pregnant seeing as how they were up in years (vs.18), yet no discipline was given to Mary when she asked Gabriel how it was she could become pregnant since she was a virgin (vs.34). Why this difference in treatment?
7. How is the word translated “overshadowed” (vs.35 – TNIV) used elsewhere, whether within or outside of Scripture?
8. Twice in this section (vs.32,35 – TNIV) Jesus is referred to as the “Son of the Most High” or the “Son of God?” What do these phrases mean?
9. What do the names Elizabeth, Gabriel, Joseph, Mary, David and Jesus mean? Do the meanings of these names have any special significance for the meaning of this text?
10. What are some points of comparison and contrast between the accounts of the announcement regarding Elizabeth’ pregnancy and Mary’s pregnancy?