Luke 1:19-20 “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”
Luke 1:26-27 “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
Gabriel’s calendar had two visits added to it in the span of six months. First to Zacharias; a priest who ministered faithfully in the temple. Then, to a virgin named Mary, engaged to be married. The news was generally the same – that they both were to have a child that year.
But from there, the response to the message takes an interesting turn.
Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth were “…well stricken in years.” Just for the sake of illustration, let’s say they were over sixty. For them to consider having a child posed some issues. Being a bit more ‘chronologically gifted’, of course, they had questions.
Luke 1:18 “And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”
Seems a logical thing to ask; don’t you think?
But God saw his heart. He took his response as a lack of faith.
Luke 1:20 “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”
Let’s look at Mary’s response.
Again, Gabriel is the angel that was sent to deliver the good news. He appears to Mary and delivers the news that she was to be with child. This child would be the prophesied Messiah; the long-awaited Deliverer. She too, had a question:
Luke 1:34” Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
Her response was not of unbelief, but of integrity. She accepted the news of this miraculous conception, but questioned because she had not even been received by her betrothed, Joseph; let alone consumating their marriage.
But as Gabriel explained to her how this would come about, she humbly submitted.
Luke 1:38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
Mary was fully accepting of what God had told her. That’s not to say she didn’t have questions. Her faith extended beyond what she could see, feel, think and touch. Though she did not, nor could not see how this would end, she put herself in the place of faith; trusting God would take care of all the details.
Can you imagine the conversation that Zacharias and Elisabeth had when he first arrived home?
‘Why can’t you speak?’
‘How did you lose your voice?’
‘We’re going to have a baby – How is that possible?’
Life had taught them to consider all the possibilities; all the options. What about the finances? Can we afford to have a child at our age? Where are we going to get clothes for this one? Why name him John?
Oh, the amounts of paper and writing back and forth between Zacharias and Elisabeth!
But as the child was conceived, their faith grew.
Then, six months later, Mary shows up with her special news.
Joseph had endured his struggle; the dream and decision to go ahead with his marriage to Mary.
She and Joseph had already faced the situation, told their story and were preparing for the arrival of the Messiah.
But what of us today?
Since Israel became a nation, there is no other prophecy needing to be fulfilled that would prevent the second coming of Christ. We have been commanded to tell all the world of the good news that Jesus saves.
And what is our response?
Are we more like Zacharias – doubting just how this will come about; or like Mary – fully accepting of the fact that she would be mother to the Son of God?
What we do with what we know is proof of our faith. It becomes the testimony of what we believe. If I say I am saved, do I live it in my everyday life?
Do my coworkers know that I am a Christian?
Do I speak up at work? Do I look for opportunities to share the gospel with my neighbors? Am I prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in me?
Do I carry tracts to give the person across the gas pump or in line at the grocery store?
If we know that our time is short and Christ is coming soon, how are we preparing for it?
Our enemy, the devil knows his time is short. He is turning up the heat on any and all that decide to live godly in this present world. But:
1 John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Romans 8:37 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
It takes faith to step out and do what we are commanded by God to do. But we do so with the promise of God; the protection of God and the power of God.
When people will look back on our life, what tale will be told of us?