Well, I have picked Luke to start my journey. So before I get to know Jesus again, I get to know some people related to Him first. And they are Zachariah & Elizabeth. They are His uncle and auntie. From the fact that Maria went to stay with Elizabeth for 3 months after she heard from an angel, I would say they were pretty close relatives instead of distant ones. (More can be said about this later.)
I would say Zachariah and Elizabeth's was quite a 'typical miraculous story' in the Bible - both of them were righteous before God. Even so, they didn't have any kids. And with the miracle of God, at their old age they have finally got their own kid. Sounds familiar? Yes, at least I can remember Abraham, Samuel, one of the women in Old Testabment who took care of one of the prophet (was it Elijah or Elisha?)...
But when I try to get to know Zachariah & Elizabeth real and up close this time, I have noticed something interesting.
First, it's about Zachariah. He wasn't able to speak after he heard the good news from Angel Gabriel till the birth of his son, as he didn't believe what Gabriel told him.
Zachariah's first reaction to Gabriel's appearance was 'paralyzed in fear' (The Message), which I guess, no one would blame him. But what surprised me was his reaction to the good news. In The Message, the translation is 'Do you expect me to believe this?' and in NIV, it was 'How can I be sure of this?'
Noted that the second sentence from Gabriel (after telling him not to be afraid) was that 'Your prayer has been heard.' That meant, Zachariah (and probably with Elizabeth) has been, or at least has sometime ago, prayed for a baby.
It got me thinking - did he really mean it or believe in it when he prayed for a baby? If so, why would he reacted this way i.e. not able to believe, even an angel appearing from nowhere telling him such news? Then I would think, how many times in my life I have prayed without believing that God would really do something about it? Maybe, afterall, I am not much different from Zachariah.
And it also amuse me to note that, actually, Zachariah's reaction can also be seen as asking for another sign, especially from the NIV translation. There were many people in Bible asking for signs from God, after hearing His revealation, and I do not recall any of them got 'punished' by asking for a sign. (May be I remember incorrectly, please let me know if that's the case!). I wonder if it was because for others, they heard God's revealation from other human being, e.g. a prophet, so it's sort of OK for them to ask for some 'miraculous signs'. As in Zachariah's case, the appearance of Gabriel the angel itself is already a supernatural event that should be enough to show him it really was a message from God. So any further request for proof was thus 'penalised'.
It just reminded me once again how firmly we might be got hold with on earthly belief and thought - in this case of Zachariah, it's the belief that 'old age = no children'. Even seeing the messenger from God, he still couldn't breakthrough from such thought. We just need to keep remind ourselves that our God is OMNIPOTENT, in Him, there really is NOTHING IMPOSSIBLE! Do I also fall in this trap from time to time?
When I turned to Elizabeth, the mentioning was short. But this line caught my attention, 'she went off by herself for five months' (The Message) or 'for five months, she hid herself' (Revised Standard Version).
Why did she need to, or want to hide for 5 months? My suspection was that she didn't really believe it, either - 'it's too good to be true! Can I really be pregnant? At this old age? I had better wait and see.' I guess I can really understand her concern from a pregnant woman's point of view - many women would not announce their pregnancy until the first three months have passed, that they are more sure of the safety of the pregnancy. I guess it's even more so for Elizabeth, being pregnant at her old age. The last thing she wanted would be to disappoint others, and most of all herself, by a false alarm. It would be too much to bear.