Gabriel: The Heavenly Witness

Getting Started
Think of something great. What does “great” mean to you? Share your ideas.

In this passage, a heavenly visitor comes to Mary and proclaims that she will miraculously bear a child, and that he will be great. Let’s see what greatness is for Jesus as we delve into this famous passage.

1. Have someone read this text aloud with the rest following along. Verse 26 gives us a “when,” a time indicator. Look back to verses 5-24 to find out what happened six months earlier.

2. What do we learn about Joseph in verse 27? Why do you think this might be significant? How is Mary described?

3. How does the angel encourage Mary in verses 28-31? Have you ever experienced God’s grace or favor in an unusual way? Talk about it. How did it feel? How did you respond?

4. In verse 32 Gabriel says that Jesus will be “great.” Then he describes four things that Jesus will be or have or do. What are they? What do these four things have in common? (They all have to do with kingship or kingdoms: “Son of the Most High,” “give him the throne of . . . David,” “reign over the house of Jacob,” “of this kingdom there will be no end.” )

5. Our concept of kingship these days is pretty shallow, mostly centering around the foibles of the British royal family or a certain king buried in Graceland. What power did kings have in the ancient world? What would it mean to have a king whose kingdom would never end?

6. What does it mean for us today that Jesus is a king, an eternal king, whose kingdom will never end? Where do you think his kingdom is today? How might this change or enlarge your concept of Jesus? How does it honestly make you feel about him?

7. What progression do you see in Mary’s responses in verses 29, 34, and 38? How does Gabriel answer her question about how this could happen (verses 35-37)? Have you ever experienced going from confusion to questioning to faith? What was the situation?

8. What do you think the angel’s statement in verse 37 meant for Mary? What could it mean for you today?

In Closing
In this story, Gabriel gives an announcement, a Word from God, and describes Jesus as the great King. Mary responds, after some perplexity and questioning, with faith in this Word. What does it mean for you to live by faith in the Word? What would this faith look like? What practical small step of faith could you take this week, based on God’s Word?

“Witnesses to Jesus” Bible Studies are available

Many thanks to those who gave valuable feedback in the writing and editing of these studies: the Iowa staff team led by Lindsay Olesberg, Beth Krysl, Judy Johnson, Fred Neubert, Shelley Soceka, Glen Ewart, Nancy Fox, Suzy Gaeddert, Scott Eddlemon, Ann Beyerlein, Bob Wolniak, Paula Esealuka, John Seiders and Donna Snow. Special thanks to Kathy Burrows (design) and Jeff Yourison (editor).-Bob Grahmann

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© 1995 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA. All rights reserved.