Another Pre-Raphaelite painting of the annunciation.
This painting was almost universally derided in its day. However, it is now regarded as one of the best ever paintings of the annunciation.
Traditionally, Mary is shown in prayer. Here she is depicted as being awoken from her sleep by Gabriel.
Sometimes the Lord enters peoples' lives by surprise. We see so many examples of this in Scripture- Paul on the way to Damascus, Moses discovery of the burning bush, Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
People set their lives on a course and often new circumstances lead them away from that course and into the light of the reality of God. Think of the thunderstorm that lead Martin Luther to become a monk and eventually to discover the doctrine of justifcation. While it cannot be denied that some people do seek God, sometimes God reaches them before they do.
Gabriel is not shown with wings in this picture. We know that seraphim and cherubim have wings, but the Scriptures do not indicate that all angels have wings. Often the angels in Scripture seem very much like humans in appearance. That they eat and are capable of intercourse with humans (Genesis 6) suggests that their bodies are similar to ours in nature. That should remind us that in the resurrection, when believers are glorified, they shall have a nature that is physical. Our flesh will be redeemed. We shall be delivered from these bodies of death by our glorious transfiguration through the power of Christ's resurrection.
Notice Gabriel's flaming feet. Angels are sometimes depicted in the Bible as fiery beings.
7 And of the angels he saith,
Who maketh his angels spirits,
and his ministers a flame of fire.
The angels reflect the essential purity, holiness and awesomeness of God. That is why men and women were sometimes afraid when they met angels. The angels made known the reality of God's awesome power and presence. Our God is a consuming fire. THe revelation of God's purity makes us only more conscious of our sin and filthines. It makes known our need to for the cleansing work of Christ.