A Tale of Two Questions

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Luke Chapter 1

            Steve continued his series of Christmas messages with a sermon titled, “The Tale of Two Questions.” He took a look at Luke 1 and the story of the priest, Zechariah, being struck dumb when he didn’t believe Gabriel. That’s the angel who came to tell him his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son (John) to help serve as a forerunner to Jesus.

            It’s easy to say from the comfort of our easy chairs 2,000 years later that if an angel had spoken to us, we would have believed him—but maybe not. After all, Zechariah was a priest who knew all the rules of the temple and the Law, and whose wife was the daughter of a priest. While you would think a man like Zechariah would have welcomed the news, he responded, “How will I know?”
            By contrast, Steve took us to verse 30, where Mary was troubled by Gabriel’s announcement that she was to give birth to the Savior. Her question, “How will this be?”, assumed that it will be. Mary’s question was much different than Zechariah’s. When Gabriel explains the Holy Spirit will come upon her and overshadow her, her reply is, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

            “I hope you’re disturbed by the difference,” Steve said. “There’s no clue about Mary’s (spiritual) lineage. She’s a 15- or 16-year old kid. Zechariah, who is of a priestly lineage and could teach people about God’s radical promises to Israel, somehow still says, ‘How shall I know this is true?’ The kid gets it. How is it that he doesn’t get it?”

            Steve said there are three takeaways from this story, starting with the danger of getting calloused to the promises of God. Zechariah’s response to a supernatural vision tells us that each of us is susceptible to cynicism. The only way to stay humble is to read the Word and pray for God’s help.

            The second takeaway is that God’s plans and purposes are beyond our comprehension. The reason Zechariah and Elizabeth had to wait so long for an answer to their prayer for a child is so Mary could grow old enough to bear a child. And the angel striking Zechariah mute is a sign of God’s loving discipline.

            Finally, if God doesn’t need our plans, we should just trust what He says, Steve said. He pointed to Romans 10:17, which says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word. The Word will feed our faith and kill any cynicism.

            “Let’s rejoice and focus on the right thing,” Steve said. “Say as Mary did: ‘Let it be according to Your word.’”