by Charles H. Spurgeon

A Distinction with a Difference
Charles H. Spurgeon
Luke 1:18, 34

Zacharias and the Virgin Mary were both very dear to God and therefore highly honored and greatly favored. The points of likeness between them are many. They were both persons of eminent character for Zacharias walked in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless, and Mary was equally gracious and devout. They were both visited by an angel and were both favored with the prediction of a marvelous birth. Their answers to the angel are our two texts, and at first sight they seem to be alike. One does not see much less of faith or of unbelief in the one than in the other at first reading them. Yet Zacharias was blamed and chastened by being made dumb for a season, while the virgin was indulged with an explanation and was afterward praised by the Holy Spirit, who spoke through her cousin Elisabeth and said, "Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." It appears very clear then that God can see differences where we see none. Though two persons may act very much alike and from their lips may fall similar expressions, yet their temper and spirit may be widely different. Where you and I would put them together and say, "They are alike," God sees a difference. While we judge sights and sounds, the Lord weighs the spirits.

You must have noticed this in other parts of God's Word. I will give you two instances in the life of Abraham. Lot was commanded not to look toward Sodom, and his wife after looking to Sodom was turned into a pillar of salt. Yet that morning Abraham got up early to the place where he was wont to meet with the Lord, and it is especially recorded that he looked toward Sodom. The very thing that Lot must not do Abraham may do. It is the same action. But then, if you think a moment, you can clearly see that the looking back of Lot would mean a lingering desire to return, but the look of Abraham had noth ...

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