Despite Disbelief

Following is a guest post from Karen Mason


Luke 1:18–25

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Zechariah did not believe the angel’s good news, just as Sarah laughed when she was told she would have a son, and as Thomas said, "Unless I see … I will not believe." Despite their disbelief, God accomplished his good purposes. Zechariah’s mutism is a sign that God is up to something earth-shattering which will fill all the neighbors with awe: not only the birth of a son to an aged, barren couple but more. Following his son’s birth, Zechariah praises God, because God "has come to his people and redeemed them" (Lk. 1:68). What will fill the world with awe in all these events is something even more improbable: the incarnation, God made flesh, dwelling with his people, taking away not only the shame of barrenness but the shame of sin, God redeeming a people for himself. The angel challenged disbelieving Sarah, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14). God does the impossible. Disbelief comes when we put God in a box and say, "He can do this, but not that" or "He hasn’t answered my prayer yet, so he must not be able to, or must not want to." Despite our own disbelief, God can and does break into our world.

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