By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. New Hebrides was the colonial name for an island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu, named after the Scottish archipelago.
One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Pastor Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them.
When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Pastor Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them.
The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present–but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station (Today in the Word, October, 1991, p. 18, and Wikipedia.com).
Truly God sends his angels in the right time. In our passage today, an angel of the Lord is sent to bring glad tidings to Mary and to the world. He came in the right time, too.
Elizabeth was 6-month pregnant when the angel Gabriel was sent by God in Nazareth to the virgin named Mary who was engaged to Joseph, a descendant of David.
The angel of God, Gabriel means the power of God. The coming and announcement of Gabriel that Mary would become pregnant was a premonition that Mary would become pregnant not because of human cause but of God’s power.
II. The Angel Says, “The Lord is With You!” (vv.28-36).
The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, you are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” Startled by his statement, she tried to figure out what was his greeting meant. Then the angel told her, “Stop being afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God.
The angel Gabriel was specific in his announcements. His message was 100 percent true and exact. The angel said, Mary will become (1) “pregnant, and give birth to a (2) son, and you are to name him (3) Jesus. He will be (4) great and will be called the (5) Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the (6) throne of his ancestor David. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
The announcement of the angel was hard to understand, and even Mary did not understand it at first. That’s why she was confused and so she asked the angel, “How can this happen, since I have not had relations with a man?” In our language nowadays, “Hey Angel Gabriel, I did not sleep yet to any man, how come I will become pregnant?”
That kind of human understanding is also an understanding of some people nowadays to interpret or deny the virgin birth of Jesus. If he will be born today some people might say, it’s just like the pregnancy of “Jane the Virgin” (a TV series in Los Angeles, Ca in 2014).
Jane became pregnant simply because of the doctor erroneously inseminated the sperm cell of her brother to a different lady who happened to be there for check-up, and not to be impregnated. Jane the Virgin is just a story to titillate our mind and emotion, and shall not be the basis of what Mary experienced.
We should not also compare or find similarities in the Ancient Greek Mythology that god Zeus physically impregnated women, and they had strongest and heroic sons and daughters. According to their mythology, “Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he is married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. He is known for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus” (Wikipedia.com).
Science cannot explain it either, they cannot say it is like parthenogenesis. What’s parthenogenesis? “Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction found in females, where growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization by a male. The word ‘parthenogenesis’ comes from the Greek παρθενος, parthenos, meaning ‘virgin’, and γενεσις, genesis, meaning ‘birth.’ Parthenogenesis occurs naturally in some invertebrate animal species (e.g., water fleas and honey bees, and in some vertebrates (e.g., some reptiles). There are no known cases of parthenogenesis naturally occurring in mammals” (illustrationexchange.com).
For some animals, parthenogenesis is normal but for mammals like human beings–it is not. Mary was not parthenogenesis.
Here’s how the holy impregnation would happen, the angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will surround you. Therefore, the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God.”
The angel also argued that it was not impossible, and he cited the experience of his cousin, Elizabeth, “Listen! Elizabeth, your relative, has herself conceived a son in her old age, this woman who was told be barren is in her sixth month.”
As if the angel said that, see even the old barren woman can make healthy by God why not you who is still young. God can impregnate you through his power.
III. The Angel Says Nothing is Impossible (vv.37-38).
The angel Gabriel emphasized that “Nothing is impossible with respect to any of God’s promises.” In other words when God says it will happen it will come to reality. For human it may be impossible but for God there’s no impossibility. He can create something out of nothing.
After Mary heard all of these things, she showed her faithfulness by saying, “Truly I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said happen to me.” In other words, Mary shall say “Okay tell God, I am ready and do whatever he wants. I am his servant.”
We are celebrating this season the coming of the Lord in our life. We should bear in mind that nothing is impossible with God. The coming of Jesus was impossible, in human mind, but it is possible with God.
We experience a lot of challenges and problems for the past year, it seems they are impossible to resolve. Some of our countrymen became depressed and fell to hopelessness. However, let us not forget that we have God in our side who makes the impossible possible.