NOTE: This meditation originally appeared in Scripture Union’s “Closer To God” daily Bible reading series.
Another life is going to be turned upside down by the unexpected intervention of God: not in the ornate, reverent surroundings of the spiritual heart of the nation’s capital this time, but in a small, unimportant backwater; not to a man with important priestly status, but to a unmarried teenage girl.
The two encounters with the angel Gabriel are on one level very similar: both Mary and Zechariah’s initial reaction is fear, and both question how this seemingly impossible thing will come about. But closer inspection reveals a striking contrast. While Zechariah exhibits the kind of unbelief that so often masquerades as ‘mature’ scepticism, Mary demonstrates simple, childlike faith; she may not understand the details, but she is ready to go with God’s word to her (v38).
God’s choice of Mary to receive the greater blessing over Zechariah would have been shocking at the time, and perhaps still is now. But her faith-filled response reminds us that God’s priorities are not ours: “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
Maturity is a noble aspiration – and a biblical calling (Col 1:28). But do our years of experience sometimes insulate us against becoming too excited, or taking risks for the gospel? Do we secretly resent the unbridled enthusiasm of those who are younger in the faith? If so, ask God to restore in you a childlike faith that takes Him at His word, believes for great things, and stirs in you a holy passion for God and His purposes.