Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife well advanced in years.”Luke 1:18 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
This is Zechariah’s response to the angel that visited him while he was burning incense in the temple before the Lord. The angel came with good tidings of a promised newborn son. He and his wife were childless and well advanced in years. Yet the angel declared a boy would be born. He named the child and said he would have the power of Elijah.
Zechariah’s response wasn’t to believe what he was told. In fact, his response doesn’t seem quite shocking at all to modern ears. It is the same objection that many of us would offer.
“Prove it to me.”
“I need evidence.”
“Something more than your words is necessary.”
It’s the simple communication of truth from one person to another. In our case, an angel that has true information was tasked to relay it to Zechariah. He needed something more. Paul spoke of the human impediment at work here.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of this world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.1 Corinthians 1:20–22 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
In all of the questions Paul asks, he is mocking the wisdom of the world. Technology advances, people compose great written works, wise men debate novel ideas. Yet in none of these is revealed the only truth that matters… To know God and to be saved.
Our friend Zechariah wanted something more. What was told to Him didn’t match what he knew. Older couples were well past the child-bearing years. Zechariah knew this messenger was different than a mere human.
Paul says the Israeli seeks something more… A sign. The Greek needs the wisdom that often arises from the debate of ideas. It’s always something more.
God conveys ideas to us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The just shall live by faith.
It pleased God through the foolishness of proclamation (preaching) to save those who believe it. It’s as simple as that. Believe what is said.
Zechariah’s response revealed he didn’t really believe. Yet Zechariah already had his sign.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.Luke 1:11 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
He was alone, and no other person was permitted to enter the place where he was. We know the angel appeared to him. It wasn’t there when he walked in.
Zechariah didn’t believe the proclamation, it cost him something. He regarded what he was told foolishly. He was a witness to it being all true. His wife conceived. A son was born to him.
If someone were to say to you, “Jesus died for you.” Would your response be to treat the statement with folly or would you want to know more?
The disposition of your soul depends on your response.