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Luke 1:39-40 ESV
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, in addition to telling her that she, a virgin, would miraculously give birth to God, he told her And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren (Luke 1:36 ESV). She immediately went to visit Elizabeth to see if this was true.
Did Mary doubt?
She did not doubt God, but she was no fool either. Like any reasonable person, she wanted evidence to confirm whether her experience with an angel was a bona fide vision, or a hallucination. The angel had told her that her barren relative was pregnant. If she could confirm this, it would be solid evidence that she was to give birth to God. The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps (Proverbs 14:15, ESV). After all, she would eventually have to explain to her betrothed how she was pregnant, but sexually pure.
Luke 1:41-45 ESV
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
When Mary arrived, Elizabeth was both pregnant and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Even more amazing was that both Elizabeth and the fetal John the Baptist recognized Who was in Mary. John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth called Mary the mother of my Lord. Everything was just as Gabriel had told her!
Now wait just a second. Yesterday, you said we ought to just take God’s Word at face value and believe. Why did Mary need evidence to trust in what Gabriel had told her? Is that biblical?
It is certainly biblical, though unfortunately, it runs counter to what many Christians have been taught. Taking God’s Word at face value does not require us to blindly accept every prophetic word we receive, whether it is from a man or an angel. In fact, the Word says Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, ESV) and that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14, ESV).
It may surprise many Christians that blind leaps of faith are not Scriptural. Too many Believers assume that everything their pastor or priest says is true. At best, this has led unthinking, anti-intellectual, gullable Christians who believe things like the “1611 Authorized King James Version” is the only Word of God, and the Bible teaches against interracial marriage. At worst, this has led to strange heterodox movements like liberal Quakerism and Oneness Pentecostalism, and even dangerous psuedo-Christian cults like the Children of God and the People’s Temple.
We have no good reason to doubt that anything is impossible for the God who, in the beginning, created the heavens and the earth. However, just because a thing is possible does not make it plausible. That is why Bible commands us to test everything.
To think, question, and test is sign of Christian maturity, not a lack of faith. An evil minister will teach the Church to accept everything he or she says without question. A good minister will show the Church how to think for themselves until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:13-14, ESV).
We do not serve a God of fools. Rather, we serve a God who says Come now, let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18, ESV) and commands us to be wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16). Mary refused to be a fool; she put Gabriel’s message to the test.
Don’t be a fool but test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21, ESV).