Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” (1:34)

It’s All About ‘Tude

Two amazing pronouncements. Two similar questions. And two very different angelic responses. The angel on deck was Gabriel, and he first appeared to Zechariah to tell him that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son, and they would name him John. Scripture gives us a brief bio: Zechariah was a priest, he and his wife Elizabeth righteous in God’s eyes, and they were “Unable to conceive because they were both very old.” Zechariah was tending to his priestly duties at the temple, burning incense. That’s when Gabriel shows up and tells Zechariah that their prayers have been answered, Elizabeth will give him a son named John, he will give them great joy, he will be great in the eyes of the Lord and he will turn many back to the Lord their God. What’s not to get joyful about? After all this he asks the question, “How can I be sure this will happen?”

Six months later, Gabriel appears to Mary, giving her another startling announcement: she will become pregnant, she will have a son, name Him Jesus, He is the Son of the Most High, He’ll have David’s throne and His kingdom will never end. After all this, Mary asks, “But how can this happen?”

Both asked the “How” question, but Zechariah begins with, “How can I be sure…” Well Zechariah, he is an angel of God, so I think you can be sure. But because of his doubt, Gabriel responded making him mute until after John was born. The moral of the story? Don’t doubt God. Mary essentially asked the same question, but it was not about trusting or doubting; she was just wondering how all this was going to work. And Gabriel explained.

There’s another reason why Mary’s question was received well—it was her attitude. When you read through her response to Gabriel, which is called the Magnificat, you see some great character traits:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” (Luke 1:46-48 NIV)

Mary reveals three things about herself:

She puts God first.

She acknowledges her humble condition.

She is the Lord’s servant.

For Zechariah, a relevant verse could be: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)

For Mary, a relevant verse could be: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. (Psalm 25:9 NIV)

Humility was a significant attribute of Christ’s: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NIV) How could humility impact your Christmas?

Missed yesterday’s post? Read the truth behind the Star of Bethlehem.

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