God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth with a message for Mary, who was promised in marriage to Joseph. The angel told Mary that she would have a son, whom she was to name Jesus. The angel said, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God.”
Mary asked how this could be as she was a virgin. The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest on you.” He also told Mary that her elderly relative Elizabeth was six months pregnant, for there is nothing that God cannot do. Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant”.
Matthew was a Jew who became a Christian. He was familiar with the Old Testament and keen to show how Jesus has fulfilled prophecies about the Messiah.
Luke, on the other hand, was a Gentile (non-Jew) who wanted to show that Jesus was saviour for all humankind. Luke also shows a special interest in women and marginalised people (eg social outcasts, the poor, tax collectors). The particular interests of Matthew and Luke are shown in the way they write.
Mary holds a special place in the Christian faith as the mother of Jesus. This is highlighted in particular by the Roman Catholic Church which believes that Mary is blessed with some special characteristics:
Mary is the focus of Luke’s account as the angel tells her (rather than Joseph) about the child she will give birth to. We learn about Mary’s character – the angel tells her “You have found favour with God” and Mary shows her obedience to God’s wishes by saying “I am the Lord’s servant”. When Mary accepted what God wanted she was taking a great risk. She would probably have to face public shame and perhaps Joseph would be angry. Yet Mary did not doubt the angel’s message and gave her acceptance.
Luke does not quote from the Old Testament as Matthew does. However, he agrees that the child to be born will be God’s son and the promised saviour. This is shown in the following ways in Luke’s account: