Annunciations

Contents:

Annunciation to Zacharias

Location:  Jerusalem, temple

Imagine Zacharias’ surprise at seeing the angel.  Here is a man who is very old.  He has probably served in the temple many times.  This might have been his only time in his life he was allowed to serve behind the veil.  He might have been almost in disbelief that an angel really could appear.  There hadn’t been a prophet in Israel for 400 years.  And yet, here it was, an angel appearing to him, in the temple.

Imagine Zacharias’ amazement at the message he was delivering.  He, Zacharias, and his wife, Elisabeth, were going to finally have a son?  Unbelievable.  How could that be?  How could it happen?  Why now?  Why me?  Am I dreaming?  How will I know that this will be true?

We really can’t judge Zacharias.  The sign given to him may have actually have strengthened his faith.  Sometimes bad things are the best things that can happen to us.  Through the experience, we come to rely more heavily upon God.  Through our trials we come to know the Lord better.

Now for you husbands that have had a wife that was pregnant know, they seem to be pretty sensitive during pregnancy.  It is a pretty easy time to offend them, and make them upset.  Perhaps that was even truer of Elisabeth, being pregnant at such an advanced age.  So, knowing that, perhaps Gabriel actually gave Zacharias a tremendous blessing, helping to insure he would not so easily offend his good wife.

Annunciation to Mary

Location:  Nazareth

What a simple summary of the plan of salvation, and of the role Mary played in it we are given in the Book of Mormon

10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. (Alma 7:10 – 13)

Zacharias and Mary Contrasted

Isn’t it interesting to contrast Mary’s reaction to the angel’s announcement with that of Zacharias’?

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luke 1:34)

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this?  for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. (Luke 1:18)

She had a question too.  But there seems to have been no doubt in her mind.  That is obvious from her later statement:

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)

Elizabeth confirms such when she notes upon greeting Mary:

And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:45 emphasis added)

Why did Zacharias doubt, and Mary not?  Perhaps it was her age compared to his.  Scholars tell us that Mary was probably close 16 or so at this time.  Zacharias was no doubt much older, in his 60s?  What happens as we age?  Do we become disbelieving?  Do we doubt the Lord’s ability to make a difference?  Do we doubt that God is a God of miracles?

Elisabeth’s seclusion

Location: Judea, Bethlehem

24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. (Luke 1:24 – 25)

Why would Elisabeth hide?  If the Lord took away her “reproach”, her “shame” in a sense, why would she hide?  People normally come out of hiding when their reproach is taken away.

Perhaps it was out of joy.  Perhaps she needed to contemplate, to ponder, upon what had happened.

Mary visits Elisabeth

Location:           Judaea Bethlehem

Help and Assistance

The Lord provides us with help in times of turmoil and the unexpected.  In the case of Mary and Elisabeth, the Angel made it clear to Mary who she could turn to.  He told Elisabeth that the time was close for the Messiah to be born, thus prompting her to be looking for it.

Sisterhood

What a marvelous sisterhood was manifested.  Here was an old woman, past the normal years of child bearing, greeting Mary, who was probably in her teens.

Even in their differences, they shared a special bond.  Their words were words of encouragement, and uplift.

Spiritual Maturity

For a young woman, Mary had special spiritual gifts.  Talmage writes:  “Mary responded with that glorious hymn of praise, since adopted in the musical ritual of churches as the Magnificat:”

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Luke 1:46 – 55

Mary spoke with the gift of the Holy Ghost.  She spoke in the spirit of the scriptures, so she had mostly likely been instructed in them.  She was intelligent, humble, and pure.  She was a worthy daughter of our heavenly father.

Annunciation to Joseph

Location: Nazareth

I think it is amazing that Joseph was spiritually in tune enough to listen to a very significant message delivered in the simple form of a dream.

18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins….

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matt. 1:18 – 25)

The Lord communicates to each of us in different ways.  But we can cultivate our spiritual abilities.  We can learn to communicate in different ways.

I served with a newly called Bishop one time that received significant spiritual prompting through dreams.  He saw in a dream the members of the bishopric and members of ward council seated in his office.  Through that he knew who should be called.

I have made an attempt to cultivate the ability to receive inspiration through dreams.  I have had a few occasions wherein I felt I received spiritual guidance through my dreams.  I do not have strong feelings that I know are inspired.  More often I awake from my dream and wonder if I have received something of any importance.  I have decided that if I have those feelings, that wondering if I have received guidance, and I can see how to apply that teaching to my life, I do well to treat it as revelation, and act upon it accordingly.

Thus I am impressed with Joseph.  Obviously it was vitally important that God send an angel to speak directly with Mary, to let her know what would happen.  The communication had to be unmistakably clear.  But God knew that Joseph was courageous enough, and true to his spiritual insights to act upon communication given to him in a dream.

That God would have the confidence speaks very highly of Joseph.

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