Recently, my wife and I began a study in the book of Luke. Having grown up in the church and read the Bible a few times over, I wanted to try reading this gospel as if I hadn't read it. You might know what I mean if you've grown used to God.
I find whenever I read a book, any book, expecting to learn something, I learn quite a lot. I notice more when I read with a goal than when I casually read a story for fun. Midway through the first chapter, I saw something I had never seen before.
Luke opens his account of Jesus with great detail. Much of it deals with Mary and her family leading up to the birth of Jesus. In 1:5-25, Luke introduces Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary's cousin and her husband. As a priest, Zechariah is chosen one day to enter into the most holy place of the temple and burn incense. While in there, the angel Gabriel appears and tells Zechariah he and Elizabeth will have a son.
Zechariah replies, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." The angel tells him of his coming son then says, "You will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."
A few verses later, Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she will give birth to Jesus. Mary also asks a question. "Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?'" The angel explains how the Holy Spirit and the power of God will come upon her so she could give birth to the Son of God. Mary then tells the angel, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
I never thought to ask this before, but why did Zechariah get gagged when both he and Mary questioned the angel? Looking again, I saw they asked different questions. Zechariah wanted a sign because he doubted. Mary wanted to know more about a promise she already trusted.
If God were to give you a promise, something that seemed totally impossible, how would you respond? After reading Luke 1, I think it might be a good question to ask yourself.