Advent Day 14: Spot the Difference

O Rest Beside the Weary Road, and Hear the Angels Sing!

     I was a somewhat short child for the majority of my elementary and middle school years. I have a number of pictures from childhood side-by side with my wife, where I am about a head shorter than she is (there is a far larger gap between us now.  I overtook her in high school). That said, when you grow up short and begin to get taller, you often get told to stand back to back with so and so and have your heights compared. It’s a fact of life.

     Biblical authors often employ a similar strategy. Similar stories in the Bible are often placed next to each other for sake of comparison, and such is how the book of Luke begins. As the story opens, we have two birth announcements- one to an elderly priest, Zechariah, and one to a Young girl, Mary. The shock comes when we compare the reactions.

     Zechariah responds with a question: “How shall I know this?” the repercussions are swift, as Gabriel, the angelic messenger strikes him with muteness (and possibly deafness) until the birth comes to be. Mary, on the other hand, asks Gabriel: “How will this be?” and yet receives no such rebuke. Far apart, these responses may seem identical, and their follow-ups unjust, but close together we can compare them and spot the difference.

    Zechariah responds to the announcement in disbelief. Desiring assurance and control, he demands a sign. He is priest of the LORD, and yet he struggles to entrust himself to God. Meanwhile, Mary, a simple girl, responds with wonder. Prepared to accept this announcement as truth, she simply asks “how will this be” marveling at the power of God who could bring about life from a virgin.

    Luke’s story begins upside down- those of status struggle to believe, while the low readily accept and wonder at the news. We are prone as humans to seek control and security, and yet at Christmas we realize that “wonder” at God’s power is how the truly blessed liv in relation to him.


-Luke 1:5-35

Discussion Question:

-In what areas of your life this season are you trying to maintain control and fighting to keep in order. How do you think a struggle for control stops us from relating to God more clearly and rightly?