30 “The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.
31 You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus.
32 He will be a great man and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
33 Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.”
35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of
the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God.”
Following the Angel’s reassurance and encouragement to this frightened young teenager whose world is about to turn completely upside-down (vs.28-30), he goes on to give her some of the practical details. She has no idea at this point what this Stranger in her house will say.
In one sentence,three points, (v.31) he presents the mission she has been asked to join:
- Become pregnant;
- Give birth to a son;
- Name Him Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but I’d probably have tuned out after the first bullet-point. It seems to have been true for Mary, as well. . . “How can this be? I’m a virgin.” (:34)
The Stranger had moved right on to His most important subject….all the unfathomable descriptions concerning this Baby who was about to turn her world upside down.(:32-:33) But, Mary apparently was still stuck on the very first step of her future. . .
And to add to the complications, she was engaged. But she probably wasn’t even thinking of what to do about that!
(:31) “You will become pregnant….”
She asks, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.” (:34)
God has the full plan….sees the past, future and present all at the same time. Time and human limitations are not any problem for Him. And His unending patience is just part of how He continues to interact with us. His patience with Mary is so gentle! The Stranger steps quickly into her questions and her shock. There is no condemnation like, “Where is your faith? Do you doubt me? Do you doubt God???”….none of that. So patiently and gently the Stranger takes a step backward to meet Mary where she’s become stuck. He walks her through the process, from the start…
“The Holy Spirit will come to you…the Power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
It would not be a physical interaction for this young virgin. It would be Spirit…the Holy Spirit….coming to her. Then God’s Power would cover her….”overshadow”…. A shadow is not a being…there is no human tangible substance in a shadow. You can see a shadow, you can be “in” a shadow. But there is nothing to do with a shadow that is physical. There would be the Power of God present, but that thought, hopefully, is one of wonder and awe…not fear.
The work would be all on God’s part. Mary would only have to be willing to let Him do His work in her life.
Something so far beyond human understanding, yet brought to her with respect, gentleness, patience, and allowing her to ask questions and be answered in human terms that she could try to absorb. No guilt. No condemnation. The pure nature of the Holy Spirit was so beautifully displayed through the Stranger in His interaction with young Mary.
Asking “How?” of God isn’t wrong. We may not be able to absorb or fathom His “How’s”, but it isn’t wrong to ask. And then hold on tightly each step of the way ahead.