In Luke 1, we read very similar accounts of two births foretold. In the first, the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son to be named John. In the second, Mary is told by Gabriel that she will conceive a son, Jesus. Both seem to respond in a similar manner to the angel. Compare:
18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
Luke 1:18, 34 (NIV)
In response to Zechariah, the angel silences him until the time of John’s birth; but in response to Mary the angel addresses her question by giving an explanation that the Spirit will overshadow her. What would account for the disparate reactions by the angel Gabriel to their questions?