The Silence is Broken

Part Five of the Christmas in a Word Series


Fast forward now to the time of Christ. We read in the gospel of Luke that Zechariah the priest went into the temple to burn incense before the Lord. Luke tells us that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth “were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (Luke 1:6) They were both well along in years, and, you guessed it, Elizabeth was barren. The angel Gabriel suddenly appeared to Zechariah in the temple. Zechariah was startled and gripped with fear. Remember, God had not spoken for four hundred years. And now at last the silence was broken.

Gabriel spoke a word from God to Zechariah. “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.” (Luke 1:13). Gabriel then quoted from the final verses of Malachi, the very last words God had spoken over four hundred years before: “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17) Zechariah, not believing this word from the Lord, asked for a sign. In response God removed Zechariah’s ability to speak. God broke silence, and Zechariah did not believe. Now Zechariah would remain silent until the word God had spoken was fulfilled in the birth of John the Baptist.

Six months later, God spoke again. This time God sent Gabriel to Mary, a young virgin pledged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of David. He told her: “Mary, you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33). The language was unmistakable. This child-to-be was the long-awaited Savior. He was the anointed one, the promised Messiah of God.

Mary did not respond with unbelief like Zechariah but rather with wonder and awe. She asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

It is interesting to compare the reactions of the various parents involved in the miraculous births of Scripture. Abraham and Sarah laughed when God told them about Isaac. Hannah sang praises to God, but only after baby Samuel was born. Zechariah doubted God’s word and was struck speechless. And Mary’s reaction? Mary humbly responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38) Mary also sang a song of praise reminiscent of Hannah’s song, but Mary sang her song before her son was born. She is a wonderful example of humble, trusting faith in God’s promises.

Next: The Word Became Flesh

1 Comment

  1. Margaret Fowler says:

    Just discovered this series, and just caught up today! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the comparison of the different reactions to news of a miracle birth, and Mary’s sweet obedience and acceptance: “I am the Lord’s servant.”

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