“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
The Bible does not reveal many of Mary’s thoughts after the angel told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Because God had shown her favor as the mother of the one and only Son of God, she might have expected that her life would become easier; however, many events made her life more difficult, especially as the time of Jesus’ birth drew near. Instead of relaxing at home and preparing for Jesus’ miraculous birth, an emperor decreed that she had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Instead of God leading her to a comfortable palace where He could give His Son the best of everything, Joseph found no place for them in an inn. Instead of a bed of luxury fit for the mother of a newborn king, Mary had to rest on a bed of hay. The nearest thing available for Jesus’ bed was a manger in a stable. Instead of rejoicing with their family at Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary probably celebrated alone in the company of curious animals. Reality may have contradicted all of Mary’s expectations, and she may have wondered with Joseph, “What has gone wrong!” Unexpectedly, God reassured them with the arrival of some shepherds. They told Jesus’ parents what the angel of the Lord had told them about their child, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Those who commit themselves to serving God sometimes find their life more difficult, but God always finds ways to reassure them with His peace, power, and presence.
- Why do you think God used the decree of Emperor Augustus so Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem instead of just sending the angel Gabriel to tell them what to do?
- What might Mary have expected when she went to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus? Do you think she left Nazareth expecting the King of kings to be born in a stable? Give a reason for your answers.
- If Mary had concerns or questions about the humble location of Jesus’ birth and what that might mean, how do you think God helped her answer her questions?
- What three titles did the angel give Jesus? What do these three titles mean to you?
- What kind of peace does Jesus give to those who trust in Him?
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’” (Luke 1:46-47).
The Holy Spirit inspired Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, to ask Mary, “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (Luke 1:43). Through her inspired question, the Holy Spirit revealed to Elizabeth that the child within Mary was her Lord. Mary’s first words to Elizabeth were, “My soul magnifies the Lord;” the child within her, Jesus the Messiah, was Mary’s Lord too and worthy of adoration. Mary magnified the Lord by proclaiming truths about God that would enable Elizabeth and all who would hear or read her words to see more clearly and understand with greater detail how God, the Mighty One, the holy and merciful God, would work in the world to bless and save people.
When Mary magnified the Lord, the first fact she revealed was how her spirit rejoiced “in God my Savior.” Though she did not know exactly how God would work in the world, she knew that in some way her child Jesus would grow up and be involved in saving her and all of His people. She knew that God her Savior would work in and through her Son because the angel Gabriel had said that her son would be the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35). An angel of the Lord had also told Joseph that Jesus would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In the days and years ahead, Mary would learn more from others and from Jesus himself about Jesus and how He would accomplish God’s saving work. As her Savior, Mary would follow Jesus to His cross and see Him raised from the dead.
- What truths in Luke 1:46-56 have been magnified for you as you have studied this lesson so you understand these truths of God better?
- When someone first realizes that God is their Savior through Jesus, what new reasons do they have for rejoicing in God?
- When someone has followed Jesus as their Lord and Savior for a long time, what additional reasons might they have from experience for rejoicing in God?
- What type of person does Mary say God will be merciful toward?
- What are some of the actions God will take to help those He will be merciful toward?
“The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’” (Luke 1:35).
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were too old for Elizabeth to conceive and bear John the Baptist; therefore, God used supernatural means to help them. Even though John had human parents, the Holy Spirit supernaturally indwelt him before he was born (Luke 1:15). For this reason, the Holy Spirit called John “the prophet of the Most High,” and John prepared the way for Jesus and His successful ministry (see Luke 1:76).
Unlike John, the angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be called “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). When Mary asked how this could happen because she was not yet married to Joseph, the angel explained that the Holy Spirit would achieve this miracle when the power of the Most High overshadowed her. Just as the presence of God overshadowed the tabernacle Moses set up and later the temple King Solomon built, so the presence of God would conceive Mary’s child without the need for human intervention. She only needed to wait in a way similar to how Jesus would tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Spirit of God actively participated in the creation of the world, in the conception of Jesus the Messiah, and in the new creation of everyone who trusts in Jesus as the Son of God and their personal Lord and Savior. Because of the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit all believers can now serve God “without fear, in holiness and righteousness” (Luke 1:75).
- If you were God the Father, what type of girl or woman would you want to choose to be the mother of Your only begotten Son?
- What does the angel say to Mary so she will not be afraid?
- What does the angel say about Mary’s Son that makes Him special and what are some of the ways Jesus is different from John the Baptist?
- How is Mary’s reply to the angel a good example for all who claim to be Christians?
- How would many churches be different today if every church member had the attitude of Mary each day?