And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(Luke 1:31 ESV)
We are in the New Testament, finally. Jesus is coming! I’m excited, how about you?
Okay on to today’s reading. We see Gabriel on two trips – one to Zechariah, a priest and one to Mary, a young virgin. In both he gave two incredible pronouncements. How did they do?
To Zechariah, Gabriel proclaimed that his prayers for a child has been heard. Zechariah and Elizabeth will have a son and they will call him John. Gabriel even gave them a preview of what John’s life would be like. “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:14-15 ESV)” (What parent would not want to hear that?) But Zechariah asked a question and it seemed like Gabriel did not take it well because he said And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
(Luke 1:20 ESV). And it was so.
To Mary, Gabriel proclaimed that she will bear the Messiah! It is every Jewish girls’ dream to be chosen, to be the favored one and it’s coming true for Mary. (On a side note, I like verse 29 where it said But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.(Luke 1:29 ESV). She tried to discern. Not just taking this angel’s word at face value.)
She also asked a question but Gabriel did not seem to mind and gave her all the details.
So, what happened? Zechariah and Mary were both incredulous and both asked questions. Was Gabriel just in a bad mood when Zechariah asked his?
Surely there’s more to it than that. In my research I came upon this website. The author did a great job of comparing the two and I will try to paraphrase what he said.
Zechariah: How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. (Luke 1:18 ESV)
Zechariah said so himself, he is an old man and so was his wife. But…he is also a priest who would be familiar with the Torah. Who should know about the stories of the forefathers, specifically of Abraham and Sarah and the circumstances of Isaac’s birth. Who would remember that God had done that miracle before – given a child to a barren woman of advanced age (Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah). Basically, he should have known better. Therefore, Zechariah’s question was framed in unbelief.
Mary: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”(Luke 1:34 ESV)
Mary is a young girl, most say in her teens. She is from a small town and not educated. I bet she was stunned by that announcement. How can she not be? Nothing like this has ever happened before nor will happen again. When Gabriel told her she would bear the awaited Messiah her question was framed with awe and wonder. How will this be?
There is the difference. Doubt vs. wonder.
How about you? Which part of the spectrum do you fall?
Have been praying for so long for something and it seems impossible now? Yet you’ve seen God do a miracle for someone – a restored marriage, a mission trip for the whole family, a better job, a far reaching ministry. Do you think, Oh it’s great that God is doing that for her but He probably won’t do it for me because blah, blah, blah? (Hello, I’m Grace and Peace. Call me Zechariah.)
Have you given up? When the enemy whispers: That won’t happen to you, do you listen to him? Do you believe him instead? Because if you do, you will find yourself like Zechariah – silenced. Your voice will not be heard. Don’t let the enemy steal your promise. Don’t let him silence your voice.
Eventually, Zechariah was given his voice back when his son was born. He was only silenced for a time.
My prayer for you, for me is that we respond like Mary “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 ESV) Anticipate what God will do in your life with awe and wonder. Then watch what happens next.
[Reading from Blue Letter Bible – Chronological Plan]