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*Why did Zacharias get punished while Mary who gave nearly the same answer to the angel and did not?

Luke 1:5-17 tell us Zecharias and Elizabeth were righteous before God blameless in the commandments faithful in their serving him. They were also very old with no children as Elizabeth was barren. Zecharias was called to his time serving as the priest. (1 Chron. 24 every year 26 people took 2 weeks to serve). Luke 1:11-13 "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

It was Zecharias prayer to have a child, here he is ministering with incense, a symbol of prayer and the angel tells him his prayer was heard and will be answered. His sons name will be called John, which means favor or grace of Yahweh.

Luke 1:18-20 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. "But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time."

Zecharias expressed doubt to the angels promise by asking how this is possible since both he and his wife are to old. As a priest he was already familiar with the story of Abraham and Sarah and should have known better. He is made mute until the time of his birth because he did not accept the good news in faith.

After 6 months the same angel is sent to Nazareth to a virgin, Mary who is engaged to be married to Joseph, of the house of David.

Luke 1:28-35 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  "And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Mary’s question was a legitimate one. Something like this had never occurred in all of human history- for a woman to become pregnant without a man, so her asking in this manner was legitimate.

The angel further responded Luke 1:36-38 "Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. "For with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Mary accepted his word and did not question him while Zacharias did question the possibility. Notice also that it took place as the angel said to Zacharias, even though he did not believe his words.


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