Three events – three questions – three outcomes.

First up is Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.  He and his wife had been praying for a child.  But when an angel appeared to him in the temple to tell him that his prayers had been answered, he fought back.  Here’s the scene: Zacharias had been chosen to go into the temple to burn incense, and an angel popped up right next to the altar.  The angel tells him not to worry, that he will have a son, and his name will be John.  He would be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb, and will help prepare the people for the Lord.  Pretty specific answer to a prayer request.  But then (from Luke 1:18):

Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”

Bzzzzt.   For supplying the wrong answer, Zacharias got nine months of silence, until he announced the baby boy’s name as John.

Next up is Mary, the mother of Jesus.  This takes place six months later, but with the same angel.  Busy guy, Gabriel was, with all these births to be announced.  But this was one that Mary had not been requesting.  So when Gabe popped up and said (Luke 1:28) “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”, she wondered what was up.  Gabriel announced her pending birth, with the name for the son, with lots of other goodies (His kingdom will have no end).  Mary is still working through the birth thing (v.34):

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

Not denial, not objection, just a sense of wonder.  The angel explains some more, and Mary embraces the concept.  From v.38: And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”  That’s more than acceptance – that’s buying in big-time!

Last is Simon Peter.  This is about 30 years later, when Jesus is starting his public ministry.  Jesus is starting to preach to a crowd by the sea, but is being pushed back.  He hope into Simon’s boat, moves out a ways, and starts to speak.  When He was done, He told Simon to let out his nets to catch some fish.  From Luke 5:5:

Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”

And, surprise of surprises, they caught fish.  They caught so many fish that their nets were breaking, so they called a buddy over to help take up the load, and the boats were so full that they were sinking.  Simon’s response was to fall down in front of Jesus and say “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”.  For the record, Jesus didn’t.

So we have someone who asked God for something, but questioned it when it came.  We have someone who didn’t ask God for something, but accepted the role enthusiastically.  And we have someone who obeyed, and then followed up with belief.  Ask yourself the obvious question: Which way is best?   All three of them were used of God, were critical to the kingdom, and (presumably) are in heaven right now, enjoying their righteous rest.  They all made it.  But which way was best?

Great prizes for following the right answer!