Bible Reading: Luke 1:5-38
The first chapter of Luke records two visits by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel first came to a priest named Zechariah to tell him he was going to have a son and that his name was to be John. His second visit was to a teenager named Mary, to tell her she was going to have a son and she was to name him Jesus. Both angels started off by saying, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:13 and 30).
Zechariah and Mary had completely opposite reactions to the message they were given. Zechariah, an elder priest, had his doubts and questioned Gabriel. Mary, the frightened teenager, also questioned Gabriel. When Zechariah questioned the angel, he did so out of disbelief. When Mary questioned the angel, she did so from innocence. You see, Zechariah was old and his wife was beyond childbearing age. Mary was but a teenager and had never been with a man sexually. Even so, she didn’t doubt what the angel had told her, she simply asked for clarification; “How?” Zechariah thought it wasn’t possible and basically scoffed at the angel with his question of “How?”
Have you ever wondered why some people can seemingly take everything that comes their way on faith – be it good or bad? I think most of us can relate more easily with Zechariah than we can with Mary. Most of us are like those from the “Show Me” state of Missouri, we want evidence before we will believe. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Rome; “… hope that is seen is not really hope, for who hopes for what can be seen? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we eagerly wait for it with patience. “ (Romans 8:24-25)
Zechariah doubted God and paid the price for his doubt. Mary believed and rejoiced at the news that she had been chosen to serve God. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17). And perhaps that is why the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)