Shouts of Joy or Miserable Silence

In Luke chapter 1 an old man and a teen girl hear an angelic announcement that rocks their worlds. On center stage is our elderly tongued tied Zechariah and our teenage virgin, Mary. Upon hearing the news that he’s going to have a baby, Zechariah questions the angel by asking, "How shall I know this?"

Mary’s response to the news of her virgin pregnancy is for the most part the same in English to that of Zechariah. Mary says to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" Note the two responses:
1. Zechariah – "How shall I know this?
2. Mary – "How will this be…?"

At first glance both responses seem similar as rendered in the English Standard Version Bible. But the Greek words for "How" and "How" are completely different. Zechariah’s word for "How" is a combination of two Greek words which frequently denotes opposition or intensity. Zechariah is asking the angel in a tone agitation and skepticism, "How can I be sure?" which is further supported by the angel’s rebuke: "because you did not believe my words…”

In contrast, the word “How” that Mary uses, denotes an exclamation expressed as “how much” or “In what way” will this be accomplished. Unlike Zechariah who answers the angel from a heart of disbelief, Mary embraces the word of the angel.

I love the irony that is created when Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth and speechless Zechariah. As she enters their home, Elizabeth shouts for joy saying, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

Are you faced with an impossible situation today?

Take courage because the angel Gabriel had one more thing to say:

“For there’s nothing impossible with God.”