Nothing Is Impossible with God

 

luke_5287cGod’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 11 sounds almost incredible. But if that news is challenging to believe, how much more what the angel says to Mary in Luke 1: 26-38!

God has done what seems impossible. God greets you with his grace. Gabriel brings good news for the second time in Luke 1. Instead of the temple at Jerusalem, this is a home in the town of Nazareth, far to the north, far from the center of religious life and political power. Mary is highly favored. She is the recipient of God’s grace, in that sense full of grace. By faith she looked God, and specifically to her Son as her Savior, v.47. Don’t worship Mary, but do give her the respect and honor which is appropriate. God selected her for a very special task. God’s greetings come to you as well. Gabriel’s greeting of Mary would lead to the message to the shepherds. Luke records the good news which is too great to confine to one person, or even to one nation.

The Lord is with you–in a way that seems impossible. The Lord would be with Mary in a unique way. She was to be the mother of the Messiah. She would give birth to a Son whose name was to be Jesus. This child would be the Son of the Most High. The title reflects both his eternal deity and his Messianic sonship. Her Son, the Holy One, would be called the Son of God. He would fulfill God’s promises to the patriarchs and to David. The Lord would give him the throne of his ancestor, David, in fulfillment of the prophecies of 2 Samuel 7; Isaiah 7; 11, etc. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Gabriel’s words to Mary are in response to her (natural) question, as to how she could have a child since she was a virgin. The heavenly message affirms what man-centered reason often denies, because it seems impossible: that Jesus could be born of Mary without the involvement of a human father. But woven in with this is something even more mysterious: God has become man. Luke is preparing you to recognize that God has come to be with, not just Zechariah and Elizabeth, not just with Mary, but he has come to be with you. And this presence is not just a temporary theophanic revelation like those of the Old Testament. Rather, the Son of Mary will be Immanuel, God with us! You can look back on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ as accomplished realities–saving events which took place to satisfy the righteous anger of God against your sin, to declare you righteous in God’s sight, and to draw you near to God. “The eternal Son of God, He through whom the universe was made, did not despise the virgin’s womb! What a wonder is there! It is not strange that it has always given offence to the natural man. But in that wonder we find God’s redeeming love, and in that babe who lay in Mary’s womb we find our Saviour who thus became man to die for our sins and bring us into peace with God.” (J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, p. 394).

Respond to God’s Word. Mary submitted in faith. She did ask “how,” v.34. Her question reflects her situation. She was engaged to Joseph, but they had not lived together. How was she to become the mother of this wonderful Son? The question reflects wonderment. It contrasts with Zechariah’s (formally similar) skepticism. The difference is reflected in Gabriel’s reply. He simply refers to the Holy Spirit coming upon her and the divine character of her Son. For Mary that is enough. Mary responds, “I am the Lord’s servant.” As disruptive as this would be in her life, as threatening as aspects of it might appear, this was God’s Word–and she would submit. That submission would blossom into a song, the hymn that Luke also records. “The intimate details concerning Mary and the Baptist and the other secondary figures of the story are set forth only because they illumine the significance of the birth of Christ, and so contribute to the proclamation of the gospel. In particular these historical details provide the occasions for a long series of inspired disclosures which cast a brilliant light upon the child who was born in Bethlehem.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Luke to Christ, p. 47).

Respond with obedient faith. Mary’s situation is obviously unique. What happened to her would happen to no other person in the history of the universe. She only is the mother of the Messiah. Luke’s focus is not on Mary, but rather, through her, on her Son. He is concerned, not just with Mary’s reaction to coming of the Christ, but with yours as well. While Mary is unique, part of her response is exactly what God expects of you–belief that what he says is true, trust in his Son. God calls you to believe his Word, that this child is no ordinary baby, but is indeed the Holy One, the Son of God. The purpose of the incarnation is ultimately the glory of God. But he is glorified in the incarnation taking place as a crucial step in the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Savior in our place. He calls you to believe, not only that the Son of God was born of Mary, but also that the same Son is the King of kings and Lord of lords, who, one day, will return in glory. He calls you to submit, in faith, trusting yourself, body and soul, in life and in death, to him. As you have examined yourself in preparation for coming to the Lord’s Table, it is that kind of trust for which you have been looking. He commands you to live in a humble trust that brings honor and glory to him.

Mary’s setting is less spectacular than Zechariah’s but her response is one of quicker faith. The setting is humble, but the event is even more glorious. As you come to the Lord’s Table, as you again experience the presence of your God, he is calling you to trust in the Savior he provided for you.

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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