(Reading Luke 1)
Six months after visiting Zacharias, Gabriel appeared to another. He was “sent” once again right from God’s throne, to a certain city Nazareth, to a particular girl, a virgin named Mary.
To this unmarried girl-child, the angel of God’s presence issued an even more startling birth announcement. “’Greetings, favored one. The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.”
Perplexity is acceptable. In bewilderment, keep quiet and ponder it. Mary was not rash to speak to a towering angel, as was Zacharias. She being young, yet possessed old wisdom. Angelic visits are not to be trifled with… Mary’s way was always the way of quiet meditation, something Zacharias would have to learn.
Gabriel’s announcement was the first stunning introduction of this imminent Beloved Son…enough to overwhelm the best of His followers. “The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid Mary; for you have found favor with God…’” How gentle of God to have his spokesman address first for both, the human need in their initial reaction: stark fear. Apparently the command to not fear removed the fear, for both were able to speak their hearts in open form.
Called by name, and named by God, the precious sign of being known. Zacharias and Mary, both chosen and named. Such is God’s meeting with us by individuality, as specific beings, utterly familiar to Him in profound knowledge.
“And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” God ever moves in names. Zacharias’ son was named by God, a name not common to his people. However, Jesus, also named by God, was given a name common in that day, as He was sent to live an entirely human life, in common with the most ordinary of all humanity.
Though His human name was ordinary, His divine identity would be undeniable: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’” (The literal translation is “How WILL this be.”)
Zacharias: “How will I know?”
Mary: “How will this be?”
Zacharias’ demand was “prove it.” Mary’s query was “how,” not “whether.” “I don’t doubt that it will, but how will it happen?” God will let us have our reasonable questions. He will answer our human bewilderment, but those who serve Him, yet disbelieve Him, are left to solve the enigma only when it appears, not before.
Copyright © 2002 Martha Kilpatrick