“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus.” Luke 1:31

Picture the omniscient eyes of the unfathomable El Roi – the God who sees – spanning the universe in panoramic view, every galaxy in His gaze. Imagine now the gradual tightening of His lens as if a movie camera were attached to the point of a rocket bound for planet Earth. Not a man-made rocket, but a celestial rocket – of the living kind.

Gabriel has been summoned once again to the throne of God. At least six months have passed since God last sent him to Jerusalem, to foretell another unexpected birth – this one to an elderly priest named Zechariah, whose equally aged wife, Elizabeth, was to bear a son, John – John the Baptist. This previous assignment took Gabriel to Herod’s temple, one of the wonders of the civilized world. But this time heaven’s lens focuses northward.

Imagine Gabriel plunging earthward through the floor of the third heaven, breaking the barrier from the supernatural to the natural world. Feature Him swooping down through the second heaven past the stars God calls by name. As our vision “descends,” the earth grows larger. God’s kingdom gaze burns through the blue skies of planet Earth and plummets like a flaming stake in the ground to a backward town called Nazareth.

I love to imagine where Mary was when Gabriel appeared to her. I wonder if she was in her bedroom or walking a dusty path fetching water for her mother. One thing for sure: she was alone.

No matter where the angelic ambassador appeared to Mary, he must have stunned her with his choice of salutations: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Prior to Zechariah’s encounter, four centuries had passed since God had graced the earth with a heavenly visitation. I doubt the thought occurred to anyone that he would transmit the most glorious news ever heard in all the world to a simple Galilean girl.

How I love the way God works! Just when we decide He’s too complicated to comprehend, He draws stick pictures.

I’m sure Mary wasn’t looking for an angelic encounter that day. As the recipient of such news, she was totally unsuspecting. Humble. Meek. Completely caught off guard. Luke 1:29 tells us Mary was “greatly troubled” at his words. The phrase actually means “to stir up throughout.” You know the feeling: when butterflies don’t just flutter in you stomach but land like a bucket at your feet, splashing fear and adrenaline through every appendage. Mary felt the fear through and through, wondering what king of greeting this might be. How could this young girl comprehend that she was “highly favored” by the Lord God Himself (verse 28)?

The angel’s next statement was equally stunning: The Lord is with you.” Although similar words had been spoken over men such as Moses, Joshua, and Gideon, I am not sure they had ever been spoken over a woman. I’m not suggesting the Lord is not as present in the lives of women as He is men, but this phrase suggested a unique presence and power for the purpose of fulfilling a divine kingdom plan. The sight of the young girl gripped by fear provoked Gabriel to continue with the words, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” (vs. 30). Not until his next words did she have any clue why he had come or for what she had been chosen.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son” (vs. 31). Not just any son – “the Son of the Most High” (vs, 32). Probably only Mary’s youth and inability to absorb the information kept her from fainting in a heap!

Then came my favorite line of all: “You are to give him the name Jesus” (vs. 31). Do you realize this was the first proclamation of our Savior’s personal name since the beginning of time? Jesus. The very name at which every knee will one day bow. The very name that every tongue will one day confess. A name that has no parallel in my vocabulary or yours, A name by which I’ve made every single prayerful petition of my life. A name that has meant my absolute salvation, not only from eternal destruction, but from myself. A name with power like no other name. Jesus.

What a beautiful name. I love to watch how it falls off the lips of those who love Him. I shudder as it falls off the lips of those who don’t. Jesus. It has been the most important and most consistent word in my life. Dearer today than yesterday, Inexpressibly precious to me personally, so I am at a loss to comprehend what the name means universally.

Jesus. The Greek spelling is Iesous, transliterated from the Hebrew from the Hebrew Yeshu’a (Joshua). Keep in mind that Christ’s earthly family spoke a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew (called Aramaic), so He would have been called Yeshu’a. One of the things I like best is that it was a common name. After all, Jesus came to seek and to save common people like me. Most pointedly, the name Jesus means “Savior.” Others may have shared the name, but no one else would ever share the role.

– reprinted from “Jesus – 90 Days with the One and Only” written by Beth Moore