24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
This should be an examples to us, that despite Zechariah’s unfaithfulness, the Lord’s will will be accomplished. Elizabeth went on to conceive the child promised by the Angel of the Lord, Gabriel. The text says that after she became pregnant, she went into hiding for 5 months, however, it is unclear why she did this. It could simply be because of the stress of pregnancy itself, due to her advanced age. However, we do know that she praised and thanked the Lord for removing her barrenness, and taking away her embarrassment among other people. This example of the foretelling of the birth of John sets the stage, and example, for the foretelling of the birth of Jesus, the Savior.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Six months after John was conceived, the same Angel that came to Zechariah, came to the city of Nazareth, in the country of Galilee. Unlike the event with Zechariah in the temple, however, the Lord chose an average virgin girl, and had his message delivered directly to her alone. This blessed, and elect girl was named Mary, and was married to a man named Joseph who was of the lineage of David, as promised in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. Some have argued that the prophecy failed since Jesus was not conceived by Joseph himself. Although Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, by law, since Joseph took Mary as his wife, he also claimed Jesus as is his son, and was more than just a stepfather, but legally, his father. Adopted children, in the eyes of God, are no different than biological children. We, as Christians, are adopted sons and daughters of God himself, and we receive the full benefits as heirs of the Kingdom. Conception by the Holy Spirit was necessary for Jesus to be fully God, yet fully man by being born of the virgin Mary. This is a glorious example of God working all things out for good.
Mary, however, was startled by the appearing of this Angel. She had probably never seen or heard of such an appearing before, and someone as mighty and powerful as the Angel Gabriel walking up to her in seclusion and telling her these seemingly odd things would have been a harrowing experience. The Angel however recognized her fear, and calmed her, and assured her that the Lord God favored her over other women, and she had nothing to be afraid of. He explained to her that she would bear the Son of God, and that His name would be Jesus. He went on to explain to her who exactly Jesus was, and how significant of a responsibility she had been chosen to endure. She would be hosting the Savior of the World in her womb.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 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.
36 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.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Similarly to the event with Zechariah, Mary questions the Angel in a bout of unfaithfulness. She doesn’t understand how she could become pregnant if she’s never had intercourse with a man, and seems genuinely concerned. However, Mary was just a regular girl, not holding a high position in the priesthood as did Zechariah and her questioning the Angel appears to be more out of fear, than that of laughter and mockery. The Angel responds to Mary in a more comforting manner, explaining to her the mode of conception, via the Holy Spirit. He also explained to her what happened with her cousin Elizabeth, who was bearing Jesus’ forerunner. This would have been a comfort to her to know that she had family close to her that was to go through this with her, but to also know that God is faithful, even when we aren’t, and that there will be nothing to stop God’s will from being done. Mary then goes on to acknowledge herself as the servant of the Lord, and the Angel left.
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