“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Let us open the door of our hearts to Jesus and allow Him to heal us of our wounds, pains and fears.
This is actually a pretty neat rendering…
They say the Annunciation is the most-depicted subject in the history of Western art.
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
This is the first recorded act of Mary after hearing the news that she would bear the Son of God. Mary “set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah” to be with her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant. Mary did not think first of herself and what her own pregnancy could mean. She went instead to help Elizabeth who was in need. Mary thought of others and put the needs of Elizabeth before her own needs.
Mary greets Elizabeth and within Elizabeth’s womb, John leaps for joy. John somehow senses the nearness of the Lord within Mary’s womb. John’s greeting is the first that Jesus receives from this world. John leaps for joy, the joy that comes only from knowing that the Savior is with us.
Then Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” is the first to recognize Mary as the Mother of God. Mary, the most blessed of all women. Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, the New Eve. The words with which Elizabeth greets Mary are used in the first part of the Ave Maria. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
My favorite part of Elizabeth’s greeting, however, is not this first sentence but rather the second: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” I’m not exactly sure why this seems so important to me. It is something that I could see myself saying. It seems, to me, to be a question of “why me?” In this sentence, I read Elizabeth as questioning why Mary came to her. Mary could have gone elsewhere or not come at all. Still, Mary chose to be with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth also tells Mary of the greeting John gives, leaping for joy within her womb. It is Mary who can understand John’s joy. Mary is full of that joy as well, the joy of doing the will of God. And this is what Elizabeth also says, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Mary, unlike Zechariah, believed what the angel said. She accepted the will of the Lord in her life. By her “yes,” the Lord is given a human body with which to ensure our salvation from sin and death. Mary believed and her belief is what allowed Jesus to come into the world.
“The angel of the Lord appeared to him [Zechariah], standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do no be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before them in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.’ Then Zechariah said to the Lord, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel said to him in reply, ‘I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.’”~Luke 1:11-20
I have to say that I understand what Zechariah must have been feeling. First of all we must remember that Zechariah is a priest of the God of Israel. He entered the “sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense” (Luke 1.9). He probably wasn’t planning to have such a real spiritual experience that day. Zechariah may have been “chosen by lot” (Luke 1.9) for all the priests but God chose him specifically. Zechariah was meant to be there and God was waiting for him.
The appearance of the angel Gabriel probably terrified Zechariah. He was supposed to be in the sanctuary of the Lord by himself. Anyone and anything else being there was out of the ordinary. It would have shocked Zechariah and probably terrified him. The same thing has happened to us. Have you ever walked into your bedroom at night and scared yourself because you thought you saw something? I know I have. The light may have been playing with my eyes, but either way, I scared myself. Zechariah has this same sort of experience except that he isn’t scaring himself and the light isn’t playing tricks with him. The angel Gabriel is really there. Think to yourself for a moment: What would you do if, right now, you walked into a room you believed was empty and saw someone you had never met before standing there looking at you and this person knew your name? Wouldn’t you be terrified too? I would. But the angel (person in this senario) doesn’t just know your name but also the name of your spouse and knows of your deep desire to have a child. Wouldn’t you be scared and about ready to freak out?
The angel then goes on to tell Zechariah the name he will give the child, the name of John. The angel continues to talk, telling Zechariah how important this child is and that this child filled with God’s Spirit, effectively Gabriel is telling Zechariah that his son John will be an instrument of God’s will on earth. Imagine hearing that before you even know for certain that your wife is pregnant, thinking you know for certain that there is no way she could be pregnant because she is barren. Now this would just sound like someone’s dream, something that could never happen.
So then, you are Zechariah. What would you say? Would you question what the angel said? Would you want to know how this is going to happen? Would you believe this? I’m pretty sure I’d answer just like Zechariah: “How do I know to believe you? I’m old, my wife is old and she’s also barren. How is this gonna work?”
Gabriel isn’t even going to answer Zechariah’s questions. He just goes, “I am Gabriel. I stand before God, I see His Face. I came to tell you good news and you should be happy. Because of your unbelief of my words, you will be mute until you son is born.” Then Gabriel leaves and Zechariah cannot speak. Then, as Zechariah, you may start to think, “That angel may be right. I mean, he took away my voice.”
So, what do you think? Is Zechariah’s doubt misplaced? If you were Zechariah, would you have doubted Gabriel’s words? What would you have done?