December 15, 2005


Luke 1:8-38

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" Luke 1:34


When the angel tells Zechariah that his wife will bear a son, Zechariah responds, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man." And because he doubts the angel, he loses his ability to speak. The same angel comes to Mary and tells her she will bear a son, and Mary replies, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" So the angel explains and adds, "Nothing is impossible with God." Why is the angel so hard on Zechariah and so gentle with Mary? In the Bible doubt is neither always bad nor always good. There is a bad doubt that raises questions to justify skepticism. It does not long for an answer. In fact, the question arises out of a worldview that makes no room for the possibility of an answer. Zechariah was one who believed that old folks do not have babies--period. On the other hand, there is a doubt that asks questions because it genuinely hopes for an answer. The question arises out of a deep humility: "Tell me how this can be." It recognizes that in a world as astonishingly complex and full of surprises as ours, neither God nor our salvation are simple. We do not have answers to all the questions cynics raise, nor even to the questions our own hearts raise. But we know enough to stay the course.

Lord Jesus, we believe; help our unbelief. Fill us with a humble attitude that seeks understanding, and with trust in you when we do not know answers. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Jack Roeda

Rev. Jack Roeda is the senior pastor at Church of the Servant Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an adjunct professor of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is married to Carol Sue Kok, and they have three children and two grandchildren. Pastor Roeda has served two previous churches: Exeter (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church and Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan.

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