In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered 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 called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)
Nothing will be impossible with God. Mary had no way of knowing that she would be the virgin Isaiah foretold hundreds of years before the angel came to her with his “impossible” message. Even as Isaiah prophesied bad times for the bad king Ahaz and the kingdom of Judah, God had a sign for Ahaz, whether Ahaz wanted it or not:
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:10-14 (ESV)
Ahaz didn’t live to see the sign. By the time Jesus was born there had not been a descendent of David ruling the Israelite people for hundreds of years. Yet God’s promise was good. His sign is real, whether we expected it, asked for it, or even knew we needed it.
How many people in the world today know they need Jesus? Ahaz didn’t think he had any need of a Savior. Ahaz didn’t want to ask God for a sign even when God told him to ask. Ahaz thought that he was a power unto himself rather than subject to the rule and authority of God.
Mary believed the promise. She trusted God even though she didn’t understand. She trusted God even though what she was hearing from the angel wasn’t technically possible. Like Abraham, whose faith was counted to him as righteousness, Mary believed.
It is difficult to imagine what would have been going through Mary’s mind- to be visited by an angel of God and to be told that against all possibility that she would be the earthly mother of the Son of God.
There is a saying that Jesus came to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Those of us who find their comfort and satisfaction in this life and in the acquisition of material things often don’t see their need for Jesus. We see our need for Him when we are hurting. We see our need for Him when we are helpless. We hope in Him when all else seems hopeless.
Emmanuel- God with us, comes to us clothed in humanity, given to save us from the penalty of our sins. This is a wondrous sign and great news.