Condition of the Heart

by Pastor Mark Shupe

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”  – Luke 1:26-27 NASB

Gabriel was a very active angel having been sent by God to tell Zacharias he would father a child called John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20) and a few months later to share with Mary the incredible news that she would bear the Son of God. Both visits were out of the ordinary and reflected unusual circumstances. Zacharias and his wife were beyond childbearing days and Mary was a virgin. Given such circumstances, the unbelievable announcements by Gabriel prompted questions from each of the recipients along the lines of “how can this be?”

The questions seem very similar from Zacharias and Mary, yet the response of the angel Gabriel is very different to them. Zacharias is rebuked for his unbelief while Mary is affirmed for her belief. Zacharias is made to be mute for 9 months while Mary is hailed as a “favored one.” Both seem to ask reasonable questions that any of us in a similar situation would pose to God, yet only one receives a favorable response. What’s the difference? My guess is it has something to do with the condition of the heart.

I wonder if all the years of not fathering a child created such shame and contempt that Zacharias’ heart had become cold and callous. So much so, that when he receives this glorious news his response is more of a “Yea, right – prove it” posture before God. Maybe he needed 9 months of being silent to realign his heart with God’s heart.

Mary never questions whether God can pull it off, she never balks at the opportunity, she only wonders about the means of fulfillment. As such, she exhibits a humble, cooperative, and submissive heart as expressed in her “be it done to me according to your word” response. This heart condition pleases God!

When God asks us to do or to accept the unusual and unexpected that is part of life this side of heaven, may we respond with a heart of humility and courage so that we might honor and please Him.

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