In the midst of the Christmas story that we know so well, there are parts of the lead up to Jesus’ birth that we may be less familiar with. Mary and Zechariah’s songs are only found in the gospel of Luke, and both occur following a visit from the angel Gabriel.
Both Zechariah and Mary initially respond in doubt and fear. They have just been told the incredible miracles that God will be doing through them; in the case of Zechariah, it is that his wife Elizabeth will bear a boy named John, and for Mary, it is that she will give birth to the Messiah. It is not surprising that their responses are as follows:
“Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years’” (Luke 1:18)
“‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’” (Luke 1:34)
However, they both ultimately rise to the call to trust and obey God amidst uncertain circumstances. They respond in prayer (or ‘songs’), praising God and giving him all the glory:
“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour’” (Luke 1:46-47)
“’Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them’” (Luke 1:68)
Both of them look to God as their saviour and helper. As we have read in Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The questions and doubts that they both have do not change this incredible truth that God is our saviour and He will strengthen us. His promise does not fail.
Despite not knowing what will happen, Mary hands the situation over to God and trusts in the promise that He has given her: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45)
As we continue reading through Luke, the promise God has given Mary is revealed more and more, and her faithfulness to Him continues. We see that the impossible is possible when God is involved and we put our trust in Him, despite any doubts or fears that we may have.
Points for pondering:
- In times of uncertainty, do you call out to God and praise him as Mary and Zechariah do? Be encouraged to do this despite any doubts you have.
- Are there doubts you are afraid to speak about, even with Christian friends? Challenge yourself to share them – you don’t have to struggle alone.
- In Christmas week, reading Simeon’s prayer (Luke 2:29-32), pray for fresh revelation of who Jesus is to you.