“Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:34–38, NASB95)
There are lots of questions that Mary could have asked, but as we see by her faith shown later in today’s verses, she simply asked how this could come about as she was still a virgin. She did not understand that her son was not going to be conceived by sexual intercourse, and as such she was confused about how this might come to pass. There might have been other things that she could have had questions about, but this is the one she raised. Gabriel responded by answering her question in a very clear and explanatory way. He told her that her son was going to be conceived in her by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There are some faiths who teach that God in some way had physical sex with her and that Jesus was conceived as a result. This was not the case. Our passage tells us that the power of the Most High would overshadow her. There is absolutely no indication of any physical nature. Simply by the unlimited and infinite power of the Holy Spirit, Mary would conceive and bear a son. This son was going to be the Son of God. This Son was going to be given to her by God and she would bear the Son of God as His handpicked mother. Yesterday we read that she had found favor with God. What a great privilege to be selected by the infinite God to be the finite mother of the Son of God become man. This is what Mary was chosen to do.
Then Gabriel told her that her relative Elizabeth had also conceived in her old age and was pregnant with a son, adding that she was in her sixth month. Affirming that God was indeed at work Gabriel demonstrated to Mary that she was not in this alone, but that God was working in someone else in her family as well. As I sat and thought about this I realized how this might have served as a great comfort as the angel pointed her to someone to whom she could turn and who would understand. Gabriel finished his pronouncement to Mary by adding, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Any doubts or questions that may have remained with Mary were answered with this one statement. God has no limits, and He can without limitation do all that He intends.
After all of this I am most amazed by Mary’s response. She said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” She must have been an incredibly humble woman, first to be selected and to wonder why she had been so selected, and then to submit and give herself fully without reservation to be used of God just as the angel had said. Mary, as we read here, did not submit with conditions or reservations. She gave herself fully and without limitation. She knew that she was the Lord’s servant and as such she was willing to serve Him with all of her heart and her whole body.
There are some that have put Mary on a pedestal and who worship her in some sense as an intermediary to her Son. Mary did not see herself in this way. She knew who she was and she was willing to walk by faith such that God would accomplish in her all that He intended. Sure, I can’t imagine in eternity Mary not having a special place in the heart of our Lord, but at the same time even she realized that God was God and she was His servant. And as we look to what is written of Christ we read that even He as fully God the Son humbled Himself taking on the form of man in order to accomplish the will of the Father. In Christ we have the One who brought together the fullness of God and the fullness of man so that through Him man might be brought back into a relationship with God, and Mary was the woman blessed by God to be the human part of His perfect plan.