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Luke 1

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 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 that will be fulfilled in their time.”  Luke 1:18-20

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.”  Luke 1:34-35

Some may conclude after reading these verses, “Poor Zechariah.” Here is a good guy just doing his job, serving in the temple, sees an angel, asks a legitimate question and gets struck mute. Versus, a young girl hanging out, sees an angel, asks a question and is eternally blessed as the mother of God’s Son—the Savior of the World. The general audience may assume that 2 people had very similar questions and yet, receive 2 polar responses. Here’s a good question: What made Zechariah’s question so much different than Mary’s? Let’s look at them again. Zechariah asked, “How shall I know this?” and Mary asked. “How will this be?” Do you see the difference?

Consider the comparison…

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had been praying for a child throughout their married life. Just to note—it was considered a curse to not have children in those times. However, an angel appears to Zechariah and tells him his prayers, after all of these years have been answered (vs.13).To add, Zechariah’s son, John is going to be an amazing man of God. To top it all off John is called to usher the coming of the promised Messiah (vs.15-18)! This is where Zechariah goes wrong. Instead of rejoicing and believing that God is giving him and his wife a miracle, he doubts and asks, “How shall I know this?” He challenges the angel to “prove it”. Thus the response of the Angel.

Mary on the other hand is a young girl (about 13) who is promised to marry Joseph. Back in those times, parents arranged their children’s marriages and the engagement period was about 1 year. Mary knew she was soon to be a wife and in the future a mother (because that was the culture). Notice the innocence in her question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin”? We see the angel’s response to her question. Mary’s curiosity is satisfied and she replies, “Let it be according to your word.” She didn’t need to know the ins and outs of how she was going to raise her child, what Joseph would think, how her parents would respond or how this would affect her reputation. She didn’t care about the minutia—she just trusted God.

Can we do the same? Or are we like Zechariah? It’s very common that we pray and pray for God to do a miracle in our lives; then we doubt God when He sends us the very answer we prayed for! I pray that our response be similar to Mary’s and we say boldly to our Commander, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”