The gospel of Luke gives us an account of the birth of Jesus. At least 6 months before Jesus is even conceived, it just so happened Zechariah was chosen by lot (as was the custom in the priesthood) to go into the temple of the Lord to burn incense. An angel of the Lord (Gabriel) appeared to him and he was afraid, in fact “gripped with fear.
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John…The angel used his name, knew the prayer of his heart, gave details of God’s plan and purpose and spoke details about John’s character.
Zechariah then asks a question: How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” It didn’t make sense to him. How is this logical? Practical? Possible?
I have always been surprised by the response of the angel. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”
When Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant…
The Angel Gabriel was sent again by God – only this time to Nazareth to a virgin pledged to be married to Joseph. He said to Mary…
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled…but the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” It was the same formula. Angel appears, there is a reaction, told to not be afraid, the angel uses her name and then gives details regarding the plan and purpose.
Mary also asks a question. Her Question: “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The response of the angel is different. The angel answered, (giving an explanation) “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (gives more evidence) Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
The Angel appeared and made a pronouncement to both.
Both had a question.
The response of the angel based on the question was completely different.
Zechariah was really asking if the angel expected him to believe this! He could only see his limitations.
Mary: “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
God does the impossible and the unlikely to remind us that His promises are based on His power and not restricted by our limitations. Mary believed that.
What is our response? Belief is not just intellectual ascension but trust for ourselves.
Do we take Him at His word?
Do we follow where He leads?
When life doesn’t make sense? Do we pray, trust His heart, believe the best of Him, keep actively obeying…Spend more time with Him, seek His face for wisdom and direction…Ask Him for comfort and peace…Ask Him for help and counsel?
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength…”