When I read Luke’s account of the Annunciation, it sounds like he is announcing to Mary what will happen to her, rather than commanding her to do something or asking her to do something.
Accordingly, I’m having trouble understanding the nature of Mary’s “Yes.” From Luke’s account, it doesn’t seem like she had a choice in the matter. Is the greatness of Mary’s “Yes” found in that she didn’t say “No”, or the fact that she submitted immediately? Could she have said no, given her sinless state?
Sure she could have said no. She had free will. It was the Garden of Eden scenario all over again. A maiden was approached by an angel, and asked to accept or reject God. The first Eve rejected Him. The second Eve accepted.
Generally speaking, consent can be requested in two different ways, and we see examples of both all the time in everyday life:
I can ask for consent using an interrogative statement (i.e., in the form of a question).
For example: I can say to you, “Will you please drive me to the store?”
I can express to someone a plan that involves him, and wait for him to either accept the plan or reject it.
For example: I can say to you, “I envision plans for this afternoon including you driving me to the store.”
Unless I intend to somehow force you to comply, it is obvious that you have a choice, and that you can either consent or not consent to the stated plan.
Acceptance and rejection to either method can be done by word (i.e., saying either “yes” or “no”) and/or deed (i.e., simply acting in accordance with the proposed plan or refusing to).
In both #1 and #2 above, I sought your consent. It’s just a matter of how.
The dialog between Mary and Gabriel demonstrates what I described in #2. Because Gabriel would not force Mary to comply, Gabriel presented her with the plan and then waited for her to accept or reject it.
Keep in mind that Gabriel stated that Mary had been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, but at the time he revealed this, she was not yet the mother. In other words, the plan was not already in effect, it was in the proposal stage. The details of the plan were in the future tense: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The Gospel of Luke shows the expression of a plan with the presentation of a choice to consent or not consent. So yes, along the lines of what I stated above in #2, Scripture demonstrates Gabriel seeking Mary’s consent. It just was not in terms of an interrogative statement.
In addition to this, consider how DavidFilmer pointed out in that thread the similarities between Mary’s response to God’s plan with that of Jesus himself. So while I am “cutting and pasting” here, I will do the same with his elaboration. (Seeing as he is my brother and is driving across the country at the moment, I’m sure he won’t mind me posting this on his behalf):
"Did Jesus have any choice in regard to the Passion? In the Garden, he essentially said the same thing as Mary (let your will be done). Was this not consent?
One thing is for sure - the Bible does not record a verbal conversation where the Father asks, ‘Son, are you willing to suffer and die for the sins of humanity?’
Of course, there was lots of prophecy that he WOULD suffer and die, but I don’t remember him being asked. But I DO remember him saying (essentially), ‘be it done unto me according to thy will,’ just as Mary had said.
If we conclude that Mary did not consent because she wasn’t asked, and that her Conception was prophesied, then we must conclude (by the exact same reasoning) that Jesus did not consent either. Which means, of course, that Calvary could not have been a Sacrifice. It would only be a sacrifice if it was offered, not if it was compelled. Nobody considers the two thieves to also be a sacrifice (because they were crucified against their will).
And, with that, we have pretty much undone all of Christianity. No choice, no Sacrifice. No Sacrifice, no redemption, and no salvation. Ouch. I don’t like what’s behind Door #1.