In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee names 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 here 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, an he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”Luke 1:26-34, ESV
Mary Did You Know…
Mary’s initial response to the announcement made by Gabriel was “How…I am a virgin”. The angel would go on to confirm that the conception of this baby boy would be a miracle. Mary was without a doubt an orthodox Jew in her faith. She believed angels were messengers from God, the Almighty was capable of anything, and her people had been anticipating the coming of the Messiah for the last 400 years. But, when she was confronted by an angel sent by the Almighty to announce the coming birth of the Messiah all she could seemingly think about was the most obvious obstacle. “I am a virgin” she declares.
As modern Christians, we read the Bible differently than the first-century Jewish saints because we have more of God’s revelation to help us understand. For example, we interpret Old Testament prophecies with the New Testament as a lens enabling us to see the Messiah’s virgin birth promised (1 Pet 1:10-12). The Jewish saints, like Mary, were expecting a Messiah but were not expecting him to be born of a virgin. This accounts for how Mary was confused at the announcement of Gabriel because a virgin birth was simply not on her radar. The virgin birth was promised in the pages of the Old Testament, but without the New Testament revelation, we would likely have missed that promise in our study also.
The Offspring of the Woman…
The first promise of redemption was given to Adam and Eve in the garden after their rebellious act of eating the forbidden fruit. God’s beautiful image-bearers had corrupted themselves through willful rejection of His command and now deserve death. Not only did the man and woman deserve death, but also the serpent. That mysterious creature, the devil, who had beguiled Eve with his subtlety and lies had slithered his way into a position of authority over the human race (John 8:44, Eph 6:12). All three parties of this wicked deed are now under the judgment of the Almighty, but God looked upon the man and woman with gracious eyes and promised a savior from their curse of death.
The promise of redemption is recorded in Genesis 3:15, “I (God) will put enmity between you (devil) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In this first gospel message, we read that the offspring of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head, but at the cost of bruising his heal. This mutual wounding was fulfilled in the cross of Christ (1 John 3:8), and the final judgment (Rev 20:10).
Notice the language of Genesis 3:15. God’s promise of a savior is not called the offspring of the man and woman, but the offspring of the woman. This seems to be the very first allusion to the virgin birth of the promised redeemer. Now, Gabriel has come to announce God’s marvelous plan of redeeming grace is at long last breaking into human history to destroy that old wicked serpent and deliver us all from the curse.