Up to Luke 1 in our journalling. To set the scene for both lots of verses – an angel appears, foretelling the birth of an ‘impossible’ child – to the ageing Zechariah and Elizabeth and a virgin girl Mary.
Luke 1:18- 20
18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19The angel answered, “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. 20And 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.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “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[a] the Son of God. 36Even 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. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
I had a look at the BibleGateway commentary for each passage here and here , if you’re interested in reading a bit more. My basic thought was this – both have an angelic visitation, and both have a question. Yet by the end, one walks away mute, and the other doesn’t.
So I’m thinking – Zechariah basically asks ‘How can this be?‘ while Mary questions ‘How will this be?‘.
‘How can this be possible?‘ lacks the faith of ‘How will this be possible?’. I’m wondering what the actual words used by each were, and how they are translated into English…..hmmmm might need to do some more hunting. Both use a good reason for why it isn’t possible – age and virginity. Is it just the manner in which the question was asked? One without faith, and one with it…and yet still a good dose of curiousity (if you were told you were going to have a baby as a virgin, I’m betting you’d be mighty curious as well!)
I feel Mary is fairly pragmatic, but a faith-filled pragmatism…‘Okay yes Gabriel, so a baby, I’ll pop the due date into my Blackberry now and cancel any prior appointments. But while you’re here, just wondering if you can explain how this whole thing will happen, me being a virgin and all?‘
Zechariah, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t have got as far as getting dates into the Blackberry (who knows, he might have been more of the iPhone type anyhow)…and his lack of faith, despite his righteousness and high position in the religious circles of the day, literally left him speechless until John was born and named..
Is this why the angel answered Mary’s questions and explained how things were going to proceed, while reprimanding Zechariah?
Interestingly, both still receive the promise of God – an ‘impossible’ baby born to change the world…