Luke 1:18-20 – 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, 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.”
Luke 1:34-38 – 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Strange, isn’t it, that Zechariah and Mary both have questions for the angel Gabriel, but the questions have drastically different results when asked. When Zechariah asked Gabriel his question, Gabriel rebukes him and tells him that he will be unable to speak until Gabriel’s words come to pass. When Mary asks her question, Gabriel gives her a simple answer.
A truth here to learn is that there are good questions and bad ones. God will respond with discipline for the bad ones and with grace to the good ones.
When Zechariah heard from Gabriel that his wife was going to have a baby, his question was one of doubt. “How can this be?” Zechariah thought it to be impossible for God to miraculously give him a child in his old age. His question was akin to saying, “No way.” Gabriel answers Zechariah with rebuke for his unbelief.
When Mary asked her question, it was more one of logistics than of doubt. Mary knew how babies were conceived. He also knew that she had not done anything to get a baby herself. So, how was she to have this child? No doubt is here, just curiosity as to what she was to do. Gabriel answers her with the promise of the miracle of Jesus’ conception and virgin birth.
What kinds of questions do you have for God? Are you simply curious as to how you should follow your Lord? Do you ask in wonder, longing to know more of how God will accomplish is glorious plan? Or are you more like Zechariah, asking questions laced with doubt, with unbelief, with “Prove it” written all over them? We dishonor God when we stand before him and demand p-roof. We honor God when we stand before him believing, even when we cannot figure out all the details.