Even though our family had a rough start to Advent, I am settling in and excited about this season. My friend and pastor Jack Brace inspired us Sunday when he preached at Bethany Community Church. He and our church partner from Rwanda taught together about a few key moments in Zachariah (John the Baptist’s dad) and Mary’s life. Specifically, Jack pointed out that the angel Gabriel visited both Zechariah and Mary. Check out their different responses:
Zechariah first response was tarassō. It’s a Greek word that is used 17 times in the New Testament. It is translated best as taking away someone’s calmness of mind. So Zechariah first response to Gabriel’s visit was that his calmness of mind was taken away. His second response is what he actually said the Gabriel. Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18) Do you see it? Zechariah’s response was unbelief. How can I be sure of this is basically saying, I can’t believe this is happening. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words.
Ok, now look at Mary’s response to Gabriel’s visit:
Mary’s first response is diatarassō. It’s a Greek word that is used exactly 1 time in the New Testament . Yeah, once. It is best translated as greatly troubled. So Mary’s first response to Gabriel’s visit was that she was greatly troubled, yet in wonder of what this might be. Her second response is what she actually said the Gabriel . “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Mary responds with belief!!! What, seriously, look at it. “How WILL this be…” (so I geeked out on the Greek more than our pastor did here in this blog), but Jack made this statement that has been with me all week:
“Mary response is, ‘I can’t understand how this is happening, but I accept that it is happening.’”
Boom! If that could become our response to whatever comes at us this Advent season, we move a little further down the path to living the full life God has for us.