Mary was a virgin, espoused to a man named Joseph, who was of the house of David. Mary was a special virgin, although she did not know it. She was the one God had chosen to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (See also Matthew 1:23.)
Joseph was a just man who feared God and loved Mary, and Mary was humble and chaste. She had kept herself pure for Joseph. One day God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to give her a special message.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary, she became frightened. Why had he come? It was not very common for people to see angels. Now here was Gabriel, God's messenger angel, in her home. What could this mean? Gabriel comforted Mary and told her not to be afraid. She had found favor in God’s eyes, and He was going to give her a special son, Jesus. This special child would be great and would be called the Son of the Highest and also the Son of God. God would give Jesus the throne of David, and Jesus would sit upon this throne and rule over a kingdom that would have no end.
These things were hard to understand. What did the angel mean? How could she have a baby? She was a virgin and had never known a man. The angel explained to her that the Holy Ghost would come upon her. He would overshadow Mary with His power and put the baby inside her. That is why the baby would be called the Son of God.
The angel told Mary that God had also helped Elisabeth, Mary’s cousin, to become pregnant. Elisabeth was barren for many years, and now she was considered to be too old to have a child. In people’s eyes, there was no chance of her having a baby. But God can do what seems impossible. He is able to do anything, and he helped Elisabeth to get pregnant. The angel reminded Mary that with God nothing shall be impossible.
Humbly Mary accepted the message from the angel and said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (verse 38)
One can just imagine the excitement and fear that must have overwhelmed Mary when she heard this news. “Why me?” she must have thought. “Why would God choose me to bear His Son? Oh, I must keep myself holy! Oh, I must do right!”
“Oh, what will Joseph think? I am a chaste virgin, and Joseph knows that. But when he sees I am pregnant, he will think I was unfaithful to him. He can put me away. He can even have me stoned. Oh, what will I do? Why did this have to happen to me?
“What will all my family say? And won’t the older women talk? No one will believe me when I say that the Holy Ghost made me pregnant. They will laugh and think I am crazy or lying or both.
“What if Joseph does believe me? What if he still takes me to be his wife? Everyone will think he has made me pregnant. They will think that he is not a strong enough man to wait for marriage. They will think he is unclean too. Oh, why is this happening to me?
“No, I must not think this way. I am God’s handmaid. This is His Son. God will take care of His Son. The angel said God did the impossible for Elisabeth. He can do the impossible for me as well. Maybe I should go see Elizabeth and talk to her about this.” So, Mary left and went in haste to visit her cousin, who lived in the hill country.