Corresponding Old Testament Reading
Our text today is from the book of Luke in the New Testament. But let’s first read a corresponding passage from the Old Testament, from the book of Numbers, written around 3,400 years ago. In the passage we are about to read, the people of Israel, all 600,000 of them, have just escaped slavery in Egypt, but are now wandering in the desert. God has been providing them with water and a bread-like food, called manna. However, the Israelites are tired of manna, and have been complaining and asking for meat. In the verses below, God answers.
Num. 11:18: And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat.
Num. 11:19: You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days,
Num. 11:20: but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?”
Num. 11:21: But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’
Num. 11:22: Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?”
Num. 11:23: And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”
Num. 11:31: Then a wind from the LORD sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground.
Num. 11:32: And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers*. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. *10 homers = About 19 barrels
The Israelites wanted meat, and God was going to give them meat, so much meat they would get sick and tired of it. But Moses doubted God’s word. In effect, Moses was saying, “We’re 600,000 people in the middle of the desert. Where exactly will you get us meat?”And God replied, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened?” In other words, “Am I of limited power? Is something impossible for me”? So here we have Moses, who does not really trust God for whom nothing is impossible. But in today’s verses from Luke, we’ll see a better example of trusting God. And we’ll discover a few ways to evaluate ourselves as well.
From our previous messages we remember that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, a seemingly ordinary girl from a low class family in the little town called Nazareth, which was quite literally in the “middle of nowhere”. Gabriel announced to Mary that God had chosen to show her special favor, namely that she would have a son unlike any other the world had ever seen or will see. Specifically, the angel Gabriel told Mary that her son would be great, called THE Son of the Most High, and would be a king of an everlasting kingdom. What makes all of this even more surprising, if it could possibly be any more surprising, is that in verse 27 we saw that Mary was a virgin. Thus, biologically speaking, it would be quite something for a virgin to give birth to a son. In fact, it would be next to impossible.
Let’s read from Luke 1:26 – 33, the verses that brought us to our current point in the narrative:
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.”
Quite amazing stuff here! And today we will discover how Mary handles all of this. But before discovering Mary’s reaction, take a moment to think about how you would have reacted to all of this.
As for myself, honestly, there’s a good chance I would have fainted. I would have fainted from just seeing the angel. The angel would not have even had any chance to give me any message. And if I did manage to not faint and did hear the angel’s message, unfortunately I must admit that unbelief on my part would have been a very likely reaction: “Say what Mr. Angel? I will have a son, who will be God himself? Ok then…”
But let’s see how Mary reacts, and then we’ll analyze what lessons we can apply to our own trust and service to the Lord from all of this as per today’s sermon title: Trusting the one God for whom nothing is impossible.
Mary’s Confusion: How can this be? (v.34)
So, what was Mary’s reaction to the angel’s message?
Luke 1:34: And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Mary is understandably confused here. Mary understands that her pregnancy will occur soon and is wondering how it will happen, since she’s not even married yet. What’s interesting though, even a bit odd, is that Mary’s biggest concern or source of confusion in all of this seems to be the fact that she will have a son even though she is a virgin. Out of everything that the angel told her, is this really the most unbelievable part? What about all of the talk about her Son being great, being “The Son of the Most High” and having an everlasting kingdom and stuff? Well it’s possible that all of that went a little over Mary’s head at this point, that the full implications of all that hadn’t really sunk in yet. This would of course be totally understandable, because even from my own personal experience, it took me several hours of study to understand the full implications and the depth of the angel’s announcement, so I shouldn’t be surprised if Mary didn’t instantly grasp everything. However, there is one thing she grasps very clearly; namely, that she is a virgin and virgins don’t usually get pregnant with sons.
Notice the tone in Mary’s reply to the angel: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
How would you categorize Mary’s reply? Would you categorize it as unbelief or just an inquiry for more detail? “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Compare this to the response of Zechariah earlier on in this same chapter, in verse 18, when this same angel Gabriel told him that he and his wife would have a son in their old age: And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
Compare both Mary’s and Zechariah’s replies to the angel.
Zechariah: “How shall I know this? (in other words: What proof can you give me?)
Mary: “How will this be?” (in other words: How will this happen?)
Zechariah is asking for proof from the angel: “How will I know what you told me will really happen?”, whereas in Mary’s case her question really seems to be a genuine question. Mary is asking how this will come about – her having a son – since she is a virgin. That’s a valid question, no? We all know that under normal circumstances in the usual course of life, virgins do not give birth to children. Mary obviously knows this too, and is thus asking: “How will this happen? How will this come about?”
In fact, even I, and probably the readers of these verses throughout history – even readers who trust God and have much faith in him – would like to know the answer to this question,. Here I am, reading that a virgin will bear a son. Even if I fully believe that will happen, a natural question of curiosity in my mind will be: “How?” “How will God bring about a pregnancy in a virgin?”
This was Mary’s attitude. Later on, in verse 45, we get confirmation of this, that Mary did indeed believe God’s announcement. In verse 45 we read: “And blessed is she (Mary) who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
A quick note here to “virgin birth skeptics”. I know there is always one, someone who has a hard time believing in a virgin birth, and that is a valid doubt. However, the answer to that is surprisingly straight-forward. Believing in a virgin birth is really not that hard. If you can believe that God created the universe by speaking, out of nothing, would a virgin birth be too hard for him? Can you imagine God saying “Oh yes, I can create a universe by speaking, but wow, a virgin birth is on another level, and it is too hard for me.” No, of course not.
“Well, what if I don’t believe in a god to begin with?” Well, just the fact that you’re reading this text seems to indicate that you may indeed grant the possibility that God may exist. Also, the other available option actually requires greater faith. If you do not believe in a creator God, you must then believe that the universe created itself, out of nothing. So with God, at least we have a “magician” who is pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Without God, you have the rabbit pulling itself out of the hat.
This of course brings us to the famous question: “Well, who created God then?” This is a valid question as well, and it also has a surprisingly straightforward answer. If God created the laws, or rules, of our universe, he does not himself have to live under those rules any more than a computer programmer has to live under the rules he creates for a computer application or program. A video game maker does not have to live by the rules he creates for the universe of the game’s characters. Similarly, just because infinite and eternal things can’t exist in our universe – the universe God created – it doesn’t mean that God himself must submit to his own creation. In a way, to visualize this you could think of God being outside of our universe, just like a video game maker is outside of the game he created. So if God is outside of our universe, the laws of nature obviously don’t have to apply to him, especially if he himself created those laws.
So in conclusion to this little detour, there is nothing impossible about a virgin birth for God.
Back to Mary. Unlike Zechariah, Mary believed the angel’s words, but she was asking for additional details regarding her upcoming virgin pregnancy.
The Angel’s Answer (v.35)
The angel Gabriel understands Mary’s inquiry and proceeds to give a clear answer, explaining how this seeming impossibility will come about:
Luke 1:35: 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.
Here we have two parallel statements:
- The Holy Spirit will come upon you.
- The power of the Most High will overshadow you.
It’s basically saying the same thing twice, in a different way, to enrich our understanding of it.
The Holy Spirit, part of the Trinity, that is God himself, will come upon Mary. Or, said differently: The power of the Most High (i.e., God , see Gen. 14:19), will overshadow – or envelop or encompass – Mary.
All of this is to say that God himself, the Holy Spirit, will envelop Mary with creative power, and somehow, in some way, will create life without a sexual act, which by the way is not the first time God has created human life without a sexual act. When was the other time? Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were both created as fully grown adults. This also provides an analogy showing why the universe appears to be older than it is. If God created Adam and Eve as adults, why wouldn’t he also create a mature earth and universe to place them into?
Back to Mary, still in verse 35: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Pay attention to what comes next, the word “therefore”.
Therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. (see also Isaiah 9:6)
Here the angel Gabriel explains to Mary how she will conceive: by the power of the Most High God, through the Holy Spirit. And because of the fact that Mary’s conception will come about by the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be called by the following two terms:
- The Son of God.
Let’s start with the term “holy”. What does the term holy mean? We use this word a lot; many of us have probably even blasphemed God by using such terms as “holy cow” or “holy something else”, but do you even know what it means? What does the word holy really mean? It means morally pure. Jesus was born without original sin, unlike all of us and our children. He was born morally pure; we’re not. It is impossible for us to not sin, and babies especially are some of the worst sinners. For example, to get their mom’s shiny necklace from her neck, babies would be literally ready to kill her if they only had enough strength.
Lucky for them, babies are also cute, so we tolerate them – more than tolerate them -but they are little sinning machines nonetheless. The term holy also has a second meaning, which is “set apart” or “consecrated for a special purpose.” Both of these meanings apply to Jesus. He was morally pure and set apart by God for a purpose.
And what about the term “the Son of God”? Jesus is the Son of God through the activity of the Holy Spirit in his conception. But remember that Jesus is also man through Mary’s role in the conception. Thus Jesus is both the Son of God and the Son of Man, in other words, the God-man. Because of this, Jesus as God was able to live a sinless or holy life, and as man, he was able to represent us and ultimately offer his life in exchange for ours.
To recap, Mary asked the angel Gabriel how her pregnancy could come about, since she was a virgin. Gabriel answered that this would happen through and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
At this point it’s interesting to compare Gabriel’s answer, which is a clear explanation, to the answer Gabriel gave to Zechariah earlier on in this same chapter of Luke 1. Answering to Zechariah, the angel Gabriel said: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” In other words: “Dude, can’t you see that I’m an angel, one who stands in the very presence of God, and you’re doubting what I’m telling you?”
And here is an opportunity for us to also analyze our own lives. Do we trust the one God for whom nothing is impossible? When it comes to God’s announcements to us, are we more like Zechariah or Mary? Well, you might say “God hasn’t given me any announcements”. Really? Are you sure about that? Has God not given you any announcements? What about Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Is this not an announcement that applies “to those who love God”? Do you love God? Then this announcement applies to you. And do you trust it? Do you trust what God has announced concerning you, that ALL THINGS, even difficult trials, work for your good? Or when you are in trials, are you anxious that God isn’t taking care of things, working things for your good, that somehow he has maybe forgotten about you? Or maybe your circumstances are beyond God’s power and ability to control; maybe God is handicapped, as we read in Numbers 11:23: “Is the Lord’s hand shortened?”
So that’s one announcement God has given you: all things work for your good, even painful and difficult things. How have you done trusting that promise?
And here’s one more example: What about God’s announcement in the very last verses of the book of Matthew? Matt. 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Here Jesus is commanding the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations and to teach people ALL that he has commanded them. So if Jesus commanded the disciples to make disciples of all nations, then this also applies to you, to us, since Jesus commands the disciples to teach everything that he commanded them; not everything minus the disciple making part, but everything.
And what have we done about this lately? What percentage of our time have we given lately to the effort of spreading the gospel to people? I mean that’s how we make disciples. We have to spread the gospel. Then when people accept the gospel, they become disciples. Well, someone might say, “I don’t know how to spread the gospel”. Fair enough, but what are you doing to change that? What are you doing about learning how to spread the gospel? “Well, I don’t know where to start”. Fair enough, are you praying about it? Are you praying to God for help and guidance on the matter? Are you asking your brothers and sisters in Christ for help? What are you doing?
“Well, I don’t even know what the gospel means”. Ok, so have you read the manual? The Bible?
The gospel literally means “good news”. And what is the “good news”? Well, before the good news, unfortunately there is bad news. The bad news is that we have all committed infractions, crimes against an infinitely holy being, God. And because one of God’s attributes or characteristics is justice, crimes must be punished. And unfortunately, any good deeds we do, don’t cancel out bad deeds, just like that wouldn’t work in an earthly court either. If you’ve stolen something, you can’t expect the judge to let you go because of all the money you gave to charity, etc.
Your good deeds really don’t have anything to do with your bad deeds, except in your hopeful daydreams. And the bad news continues: because our crimes are against an infinite being, our punishment will also be infinite, namely, everlasting torment in the lake of fire. So that’s the bad news. But here comes the good news, and let me tell you that it’s really good! The good news is that God, in the form of Jesus, stepped down from the seat of the judge, and sat next to us on the seat of the defendant. And because Jesus lived a perfect life, he had no crimes to pay for himself. But rather, he volunteered to step in for us, and take our punishment upon him. But he doesn’t force this upon us. We have to accept it. We have to acknowledge that we have committed horrible crimes against God. We have to repent and ask for forgiveness.
We have to acknowledge that God is Lord over our lives. But if we do, God forgives, and Jesus volunteers to take our punishment. That’s the gospel, that’s the good news, and that’s how new disciples are made. So now nobody has the excuse that they don’t know what the gospel is. No excuse for not going out there to proclaim the gospel and make disciples, just as God has commanded us to do. There are of course many other things God has announced to us through his Word, the Bible, and the command to spread the gospel and to trust that all things work for our benefit, are just two examples.
So again, I ask, are we more like Zechariah or Mary? Are we taking God’s announcements to us seriously? If we are, then that also is demonstrated through Bible reading. Don’t say that “I take God’s announcements seriously”, and then you spend 10 times more time each week reading Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, than God’s Word, his instruction manual. That’s not taking God seriously. This is something I often struggle with myself. Often, my weekly Bible reading has been severely inconsistent. In God’s grace he sometimes reminds me of this and makes me pray for help with my Bible reading, and then things go better, at least for a while, as long as I keep remembering to pray about it. That’s how the Christian life is, one step forward, half a step backward. Don’t get discouraged, just soldier on through prayer and reading the Word! But moving on…
Two Kinds of Proof (v.36-37)
When Zechariah asked for proof of God’s announcement, the angel Gabriel rebuked Zechariah for his lack of faith, but then proceeded to give him his requested proof nonetheless. Do you remember what proof that was? What proof did Gabriel give to Zechariah that God’s words were true? Zechariah became mute until the time his son John the Baptist was born. Zechariah got his proof, but somewhat in the form of a rebuke. Now compare this to how Gabriel responded to Mary. Mary asked how God’s announcement would come about, and Gabriel explained to her that the Holy Spirit would bring about the conception of Jesus. But that’s not all, look at what Gabriel says next:
Luk. 1:36: 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.
Luk. 1:37: For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Whenever you see the word “behold” in the Bible, pay attention. That’s what it literally means. Behold, pay attention, something important is about to be said. And that’s what Gabriel said: Behold, Pay attention Mary, “your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.”
Did you notice what just happened here? Gabriel gives Mary proof, even though Mary hasn’t asked for it. Gabriel tells Mary that a relative of hers, Elizabeth, who happens to be the wife of Zechariah, who had been childless her entire life and was now very old, is now 6 months pregnant. Imagine this scene for a moment. Let it sink in. Remember that Mary is a young teenage girl, maybe around 13, and she has this relative, Elizabeth, who is maybe a cousin or an aunt, very old, maybe 70 years or even older.
Elizabeth also has a nickname. Did you notice her nickname? The one “who was called barren”. Yes, how about that for a nickname? That’s how childless women were labeled and treated back then. For reasons we don’t have time get into right now, being childless in that society was often looked upon as a curse of some sort. Now Mary is told that this relative of hers, Elizabeth, the one with the unflattering nickname, this old lady whom Mary has likely known her entire life, is pregnant. Wow! And this is something Mary can go see with her own eyes, and she does, as we will see next time in verse 39.
Gabriel continues in verse 37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
That’s a nice way of wrapping everything up: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
That’s right Mary, there might be some lingering thoughts in your mind as to how all of this is possible. But remember, nothing is impossible with God. It wasn’t a problem for God to give old barren Elizabeth a child, and it won’t be a problem for God to accomplish his purpose with you either. God’s hand is not shortened. Mary’s going to bear a child even though she’s a virgin. That child will be holy, the Son of God, as it is the Holy Spirit himself who is impregnating Mary. Furthermore, a smaller miracle has already happened with Elizabeth. And all of this is coming about because nothing is impossible with God. That’s just how God rolls (Ps. 115:3).
We are supposed to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). But many times God in his grace will nonetheless let us also see, after we have taken our first step in faith. Mary seemed to have believed God’s message, but asked how God planned to go about accomplishing what he promised. God of course is under no obligation to answer, but often he does. And in Mary’s case, not only did he answer, he gave further reassuring proof by telling her about Elizabeth’s miracle. Perhaps things could have worked out better for Zechariah as well, if he had had a better attitude. We will never know.
Trusting the one God for whom nothing is impossible (v.38)
And now we will see how Mary reacts to all of these words of the angel Gabriel.
Luke 1:38: 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.
Mary is ready to roll. Notice again the word “Behold”. What did that mean? “Pay attention! Something important is about to be said”. Now it’s Mary’s turn to talk: “Pay attention, angel Gabriel, I am the servant of the Lord. May all of what you have told me, happen to me.” Mary is ready for service. God calls, Mary answers, without hesitation.
This is especially significant because no doubt Mary can already perceive that this virgin birth may create problems for her with Joseph, whom she is supposed to marry, and problems within the community at large. Unmarried pregnant women were not looked upon kindly in those days. In fact, theoretically she could even have gotten the death penalty for adultery, since she was already engaged to Joseph. From a human viewpoint, Mary is taking a risk by agreeing to go along with God’s plan, but she does so willingly. She is ready to obey and to leave the rest for God to handle.
Our translation says that Mary is the “servant” of God, but the literal translation of the original Greek word “doulē” means slave. The Roman Catholics call Mary the “Queen of Heaven”, but there is no queen in heaven. Only a king. (https://www.gotquestions.org/Queen-of-Heaven.html)
This “Queen of Heaven” business is nothing new of course. In Jeremiah 7:18 we read: The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.
That’s right, during the Old Testament times the Jews were indeed worshiping a “queen of heaven”, an idol, a false god, which provoked God to anger. God shares his glory with nobody (Isaiah 42:8).
Mary was God’s property, a servant, a slave, and she acknowledges this herself. Thus she has a disposition to do whatever God asks. And the same applies to all children of God. I know this is hard to hear because we don’t like authority; we want to be our own bosses. But the reality is that we are God’s property twice over. First by creation. Secondly by purchase.
Jesus bought us for himself through his blood, by suffering and dying for us. We were slaves of sin, and he bought us for himself. The thing to remember though is that God is not a cruel master, but a good master. Even though we are his slaves, and obedience is a requirement, at the same time he treats us as friends (John 15:15). In fact, he even died for us. The best lot in life is to be a slave, yet a friend, to an absolutely perfect master; whereas it is absolutely horrible to be slaves to sin, to ourselves, to our flesh. How liberating is it indeed for us to know that with God we only have to be obedient, and he will take care of everything else in our lives (Luke 12:22-31).
So the question is, are we more like Mary or more like Zechariah? God calls us to do many things through his Word, the Bible. How are we answering? Are we being obedient? What do our lives reflect? Can we answer like Mary in regards to reading the Bible, praying, trusting God in all circumstances, and spreading the gospel: “Behold, pay attention, I am the servant of the Lord”?
In conclusion, don’t doubt God’s announcements, don’t doubt his Word, don’t doubt the Bible. Don’t walk by sight, walk by faith. God will tell you whatever you need to know as you walk in obedience holding his hand. In fact, he is the one holding your hand. Believe it, trust it! Believe Him, trust Him!
If you haven’t yet accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior, but rather you are on a path to pay for your crimes against God in everlasting punishment, stop that nonsense and insanity immediately, before it’s too late.
Repent of your crimes against God and submit to him! What is holding you back? Deep down you know the universe has a creator God as opposed to having created itself. Deep down you know that all I’ve said today is true, even though perhaps you wish it wasn’t. But why? Why are you resisting? What is holding you back? Maybe you’re in a situation similar to Mary’s, meaning that if you were to follow God, and I mean really follow him, that you could get into trouble.
Maybe your family will frown upon you, maybe people at work will make fun of you. Is that holding you back? Or maybe you just don’t like the idea of anyone telling you how to live your life? Maybe you have some sins that you really love, that you can’t imagine letting go of them? But let me ask you this: Do you love those sins so much that you’re ready to go into everlasting torment for them? I hate to break it to you, but that sounds like an absolutely horrible deal, probably the worst possible deal you could ever make! This life it but a blink of an eye and eternity is forever. Take the first step by faith and if nothing else, at least just join me in prayer now. And if you agree with what I’m saying, just affirm and tell that to God as we go along.
Let’s pray: Lord God, here I am. I know that I’m a sinner. I know that I’ve committed many, many infractions and crimes against you. Yet, something has been holding me back from submitting to you. I’m not really sure what it is, but I am telling you right now, that I would very much like to make peace with you, while I still can, before it’s too late. So, listen to me now, God.
I am begging you to be merciful to me, a sinner. I am struggling with letting go of my sins. I am struggling to commit my life to you. I am struggling to believe and become your servant. That’s why I’m calling out to you, God. Help me. Deliver me! Change my heart! Don’t leave me to my own devices. Answer me as you promise to do to everyone who comes knocking. Amen.
Additional Biblical Resources:
Answers to over 300,000 questions about God, the Bible, salvation, and about life in general: www.GotQuestions.org
Biblical Sermons: www.gty.org
Christian articles and blog: www.challies.com
 ‘The Some exegetes hold that the question implies that Mary had made a vow to remain a virgin perpetually. But (a) this reads something into the text (and into other passages also, for we read of brothers of Jesus), and (b) there seems to be no reason for her to get married if she planned to remain a virgin. The solution of the difficulty rather is that Mary understood Gabriel to mean that she would bear a child without the intervention of a man, perhaps even that conception would be immediate. Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 90). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. The present tense implies that Mary expects the angel’s prophecy to be fulfilled shortly. ginōskō denoting sexual intercourse is Hebrew usage, cp. e.g. Gen. 4:1, 17. Reiling, J., & Swellengrebel, J. L. (1993). A handbook on the Gospel of Luke (p. 58). New York: United Bible Societies.
 The reason Mary raises her question is that she has not known a man. Ἐπεί (epei, since) is used only here in Luke and appears rarely in the Gospels. Mary uses the term γινώσκω (ginōskō, know) as a figure for sexual relations (Matt. 1:25; Gen. 4:1; 19:8; Judg. 11:39; 21:11; Num. 31:17–18). Contextually the present tense focuses on her current status of inexperience as opposed to a perpetual state of virginity. If the idea of a perpetual virgin were intended, a future verb would appear. Baker Exegetical Commentary. Furthermore, if a normal conception with Joseph had been in view here, there would have been no need for Mary to ask ”how”, since the answer would be obvious. Lastly, what is of primary importance is not the virgin birth but the incarnation. In other words, it is not the “how” but the “what” of Christmas that is most important. NAC – Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 85). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ is in synonymous parallelism with ‘the power of the Most High will overshadow you’ (Blight, R. C. (2008). An Exegetical Summary of Luke 1–11 (2nd ed., p. 45). Dallas, TX: SIL).
 The Holy Spirit is identified with God’s power in a way that anticipates Acts 1:8. The verb “to come upon” also anticipates Acts 1:8, and, then, the Pentecost event. The text may call to mind Isa. 32:15, which anticipates the Spirit’s being poured out upon God’s people as a mark of the age of peace. Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (p. 90). Also, note how John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb (Luke 1:15), whereas Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is greater, even in conception.
 In Luke 1:32 Jesus is ‘Son’ in his role as king, but here he is Son of God as a result of his conception [Arn, BNTC, NIGTC]
Blight, R. C. (2008). An Exegetical Summary of Luke 1–11 (2nd ed., p. 45). Dallas, TX: SIL International.
 At this time Mary likely was no more than fifteen years old, probably closer to thirteen, which was the normal age for betrothal. Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 82).
 ”Slave” is the literal translation of the Greek word doulē (δοῦλος). https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=g1399
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