Gabriel doesn’t come to Mary under his own power or by his own decision. He is sent, rather, to Mary by God. God sends Gabriel to a specific town, to a specific girl betrothed to a specific “man of David’s lineage.”
God doesn’t look down through time and see a young girl He knows will choose Him and then say to Himself, “Well, she’ll do.” Rather, He chooses Mary. She, by His choice, becomes the woman blessed above all women by God Himself.
“When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, where a virgin dwelt, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. Into her presence the angel came, and said, Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.”
Mary does not resist God’s call. She does question Gabriel, asks ‘how can this be?’ But God’s call is irrevocable as the author of Hebrews tells us. And Isaias (Isaiah) muses:
“What a strange thought is this! As well might clay scheme against the potter; handicraft disown its craftsman, or thing of art call the artist fool.” (Isaias 29: 16)
The longing in His human heart perhaps is enormous; for the boy Jesus leaves His earthly parents and finds His Father’s house at the conclusion of the Feast of the Passover. “The boy Jesus stays behind in Jerusalem. His parents do not know it, but supposing Him to be in the group they go a day’s journey, but then begin to search for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.” (Luke 2:43-44)
Joseph and Mary spend three days searching “in great distress” for their son, Jesus. (Luke 2:48) Oddly enough, they fail to look in the most obvious place — the temple. They look “in the group,” “among their relatives,” and even among their “acquaintances;” but they fail to look “in My Father’s house” as Jesus says when they find Him. (Luke 2:49) Of course, Jesus is there “in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46) Logically, if not “in the group” or “among relatives and acquaintances” where else would He be? Joseph and Mary ought to know better.
Yet, Jesus — despite being twelve and about His Father’s business — “goes down with [His parents] and comes to Nazareth and is submissive to them.” (Luke 2:51) And His mother Mary, with her firsthand knowledge of God, the Holy Spirit, “treasures all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)
Close to Mary’s ninth month of pregnancy, Caesar Augustus conducts a world census. “And all go to be registered, each to his own town.” (Luke 2: 3) Because he is of the house of David, Joseph takes Mary from his home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, known as the city of David.
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore He shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of His brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth. And He shall be their peace.” (Micah 5: 2 – 5)
While in Bethlehem, Mary goes into labor and gives birth to a son — a son whom Pontius Pilate labels atop a wooden cross: “The King of the Jews.”
“For you have found favor with God,” are the words which come to Mary from Gabriel.
Here’s the rub — was Mary worthy to carry our Lord? Was there something innate in her which made her the only woman ever born who might carry the Christ? Not necessarily so. Mary finds favor with God. God chooses to bless Mary; and Mary believes and accepts the blessing. Mary has done nothing that we know of which qualifies her to carry Jesus except that she is betrothed to Joseph, a man from the house of David and that she is a virgin and that she lives in Nazareth.
Mary is not sinless. She is not born free of sin. However, Mary is the first Christian. She accepts her son as the Son of God and as her Messiah when Gabriel speaks to her. She accepts that she is to name her child Jesus and that He “will be called holy.” She does not fully comprehend all that is to be, but she gives herself to Her son before He is born. (Luke 1: 35)
When Mary greets Elizabeth, “the baby leaps in her womb. And Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1: 41) Elizabeth shouts “with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1: 42, 45)
God’s sovereign blessing and Mary’s belief are what qualify her to carry Christ.