The Handmaid of the Lord
Six months later God again sent the angel Gabriel to the earth. This time he did not go to Jerusalem and the beautiful temple. He went to an insignificant corner of the country a despised area known as Galilee.
The town of Nazareth lay on a hillside. The angel sought out a humble home in that little city and went inside.
A young woman named Mary lived in that house. Mary was really a princess, a descendant of King David.
David's royal family had fallen on hard times and was forgotten. Herod, a foreign king descended from Esau, was seated on David's throne in Jerusalem. Foreign people, the mighty Romans, had conquered God's people and now ruled their land.
Mary was a poor, simple girl. The man to whom she was engaged was a simple carpenter. His name was Joseph and he was also of the family of David.
Mary was alone in the house when the angel entered.
"Greetings to you who are so highly favored," he said. "The Lord is with you." The angel addressed her as if she were a queen!
Mary stared at the angel in amazement. What could that beautiful greeting possibly mean?
The angel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor in God's eyes. Behold, you shall bear a son, and you shall call Him Jesus. Your son will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He shall rule as King forever."
Rule as King forever on David's throne? That could only mean one thing, Mary concluded. Her son would be the Redeemer, the Messiah for whom the people had waited for centuriesl
Would she, Mary, be the mother of the Redeemer? Had the Lord chosen her, poor and humble as she was?
Mary listened carefully, amazed and deeply moved. The miracle was too great; she could not comprehend it. But she did not say, "That's impossible." She believed, for she heard the Word of God.
She only asked, "How can this be, for I am not even married? Who will be the father of this child?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. God Himself will be the father of your child. Therefore your son will be holy and will be called the Son of God."
The angel also brought her news of another miracle. "Elizabeth," he said, "who is your relative, will also bear a son. That's right-aged Elizabeth! Nothing is impossible with God."
When Mary heard that, there was nothing more for her to ask. Although it was still a great riddle for her, she knew that, with God, nothing is impossible. Was God Himself willing to be the father of the child? Then she would gladly be the mother. She bowed her head obediently in holy joy and said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May all of this happen just as you have said."
Then the angel departed and left her alone.
Mary was too excited to wait and rest calmly. She was so happy that she had to discuss the news with someone. She couldn't discuss it with anyone in Nazareth-not even Joseph, who knew everything about her. Joseph would not believe her, for this wonder was too holy and too great.
She decided to visit Elizabeth, who had also experienced a great miracle in her life. She made a long journey across the country. To reach Elizabeth's home in Judea took three or four days. She wanted to reach the house of the old priest Zechariah as quickly as possible, to pour out what was on her heart.
When Mary opened the door and greeted Elizabeth, she didn't have to explain anything. Elizabeth jumped up with a cry of delight and hurried to her. The moment she heard Mary's voice she knew that Mary was the mother of the Redeemer. God revealed that to her.
"Blessed are you among women," cried Elizabeth, "and blessed is your holy child. What a joy for me that the mother of the Lord has come to my home!"
When Mary heard that, she was overcome with joy. She, too, rejoiced. In her joy she sang a song that welled up in her enraptured heart-a song of praise to God. "My soul praises the Lord," she sang, "and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior."
Mary stayed at Elizabeth's home for three months. What better place was there for her than this peaceful home? Where else could she talk about the joy that filled her?
The two women waited in faith-the mother of the Redeemer and the mother of His prophet who would announce His coming.