In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Commentary: The plain sense of the text is that Gabriel came to Mary in the month after Elizabeth confirmed her pregnancy. Nazareth, known in Arabic as an-Nāṣira is currently the largest Arab city in Israel. In New Testament times, it was a much smaller city at the foot of large hill. It is located many miles from the city of Jerusalem in the northern hill country. Its name is derived from either from a Hebrew word for “branch” or an Arabic word for “watchtower”. Jesus’ “hometown” of Nazareth is responsible for the derivation of Christians as “Nazoreans”, even though the text of Luke cites Bethlehem as His actual birthplace. Most commentaries translate “highly favored” as a spiritual virtue, but following Eugene Peterson, I think it could also be rendered as “Hey gorgeous! God is with you”.
To Ponder: When has God interrupted your schedule? What significance do you give the fact that Jesus was born to a rural family far from the seat of power? Have you ever had an experience that made you believe that “the Lord is with you”?