Luke 1:26-38 (NIV) 26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Nothing is impossible with God. Do you believe that? Perhaps a better way for us to phrase it is this: God makes the impossible possible.
Would you agree that the whole Virgin Birth thing is an impossibility? Humanly speaking, a virgin cannot have a baby. Are we on the same page with that reality? OK. So, the Virgin Birth is an impossibility. How about the impossibility of God becoming a man, God becoming incarnate in human flesh? Humanly speaking, there is no way we can make that possible. That God would wrap Himself in human flesh and choose to be confined to the human experience is a God-thing, an impossible possibility only possible because of God’s Divine power.
Let me unpack the phrase, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Do you recall another conception where a similar phrase was uttered? God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would conceive and have a son in their old age. They were old when it was spoken and they grew older and older, but when Sarah was 89 and her husband was 99 the Lord appeared to them to tell them that in exactly one year, when Sarah would be 90 and Abraham would be 100 she would have a baby. Would you agree with me that a 90 year old woman having a baby is an impossibility? All the women said, “Amen.” Sarah actually laughed out loud at the announcement. In response to her laughter, in Genesis 18:14, the Lord said to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”
This phrase, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” in Greek is almost the same as the angel’s announcement to Mary. The Greek translation came later than the Hebrew writings, but the translation was meant to incorporate the Hebrew understanding of the workings of God. Mary knew her stuff. She knew her Hebrew Scriptures. She knew the story of Father Abraham and his wife, Sarah. She knew they had a son through Divine intervention, a son that would defy human possibility. She would have known that God did what He promised He would do, that He did the impossible.
This idea of nothing being too hard for the Lord was repeated again in the book of Jeremiah in chapter 32. Here came the Babylonian army. They were attacking Jerusalem. Jeremiah had already heard from God that the Babylonians would capture the city and that the Israelites would be taken into Babylon captivity, but God made a promise to Jeremiah. The promise was that there would come a day when He would bring the Israelites back home to Jerusalem. For that reason, since God would bring them back one day, God told Jeremiah to purchase his uncle’s field and to have the deed transferred in front of witnesses. This was truly an act of faith on Jeremiah’s part. He believed God would keep His promise and bring them home even though it looked improbable, even though it seemed impossible, Jeremiah bought the field. Jeremiah spoke in faith:
Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Just a few verses later God affirmed what Jeremiah had spoken when He said, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
This idea of God being able to do anything had proliferated Israel’s history. Mary had grown up hearing it. She grew up hearing about the exile to Babylon and about Israel’s return to their homeland. She knew God had pulled off the impossible. And it was into this understanding that the angel spoke to Mary.
And when the angel spoke, Mary was faced with an impossible physical situation. Virgins didn’t have babies. That was impossible. Yes, she had the knowledge of Sarah conceiving at a very advanced age which was definitely impossible, but there had never been anyone in Mary’s situation who gave birth to a child. This impossible situation would be possible because the Holy Spirit would get involved. Verse 35 of our text tells us that the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary, that the Holy Spirit would be at work in her body to accomplish something impossible. The Holy Spirit would cause something that Mary couldn’t control or take credit for. What would happen in her physical body would be a Divine work, a Divine miracle.
Is anyone here facing an impossible physical situation? Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of a woman who was living with a physical situation, a bleeding disorder, for which the cure seemed impossible. It was so incurable that she suffered with the situation for 12 years. No one could heal her, and there was no small attempt to find healing. She spent all the money she had trying to find help. Doctors all but said there was nothing more they could do. But this woman had faith that Jesus could heal her, and so she pressed through a crowd and tried to sneak close enough to just touch Jesus’ cloak, believing she would be healed. She was successful, and when she touched Him, His power touched her. There was supernatural power that flowed to her in response to the faith that she exercised in Jesus. Jesus even said in Luke 8:48 “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Let’s go back to Mary and her impossible physical situation. Look at Luke 1:30 again. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. An earthly impossibility began with God’s favor and would take place as the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary’s physical body because she also exercised faith. When the angel told Mary how it was all going to work and who Jesus would be and what He would accomplish, Mary believed it all. She said, “May it be to me as you have said.”
Here is what I want us to understand, Mary was the candidate for a miracle because she had the favor of God, but she wouldn’t have been the recipient of the miracle without exercising faith in God’s plan.
If you are in Christ this morning, I want you to know YOU are also FAVORED by God. The grace of God, the favor of God has been poured out on your life, and you are in a great spot to be the recipient of a Divine miracle, a Divine touch on your physical body. Proverbs 8:35 says, “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD.”
We don’t have to beg for God’s favor. He has given it to us in Christ Jesus. When we accept Jesus, when we are saved, we walk in the favor of God. We have a relationship with the God who can overshadow our physical bodies and do the impossible any time He wants to. If we need more of something in our physical bodies, He can give it to us. If we need something to be removed from our physical bodies, He can take it away, even if we have been told that doing so is impossible.
Our job is to believe. Our job is to exercise faith. Our job is to cooperate with the plan of God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. So we are to believe, and when we do, we will be positioned to receive that which is impossible. Faith positions us to receive the impossible. Do we believe God is still doing the impossible in people’s physical bodies? If you have ever received a Divine physical touch on your body or someone you have prayed for has, would you just stand as a testimony that God is still moving in power in our impossible situations? As God speaks to you through His Word, through His people, and through personal encounters with the Holy Spirit, believe Him and receive from Him all He wants to do in your physical body.
Mary also faced an impossible relational situation. This news would have big implications for her relationship with Joseph. They were engaged. She was pregnant. Let’s be honest, no man would believe her story. If they were going to stay together, God was going to have to be involved in a Divine way because the miracle of the virgin birth was going to complicate her relationship with her fiance’. Mary’s had experienced Divine intervention in her body. Her relationship would also need help from above. Listen, as God makes the impossible possible, He can also make the unbelievable, believable. Just as He worked to reassure Mary through the angel’s words, He would bring reassurance to Joseph. He didn’t put it on Mary to convince Joseph of God’s plans. Mary didn’t have to try to explain what was happening or to work to get Joseph to believe her. God sent an angel to Joseph, in a dream, to explain the whole thing.
Matthew 1:20-25 20 An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Joseph also immediately applied his faith to the message from the angel. He accepted what was shared with him about God’s plan for Mary, about God’s plan for Jesus, about God’s plan for them as a family, and any frustration or fear he had was gone.
Sometimes, we face impossible situations in our relationships because people are unwilling or unable to accept what is or what needs to be. They are unable to accept Divine help or a Divine perspective. Sometimes impossible relational situations are perpetuated because someone is unwilling to do as God directs. God can be involved in our relationships in a way that enables healing as people accept His working in their lives.
None of it happens without humility. Joseph had a plan. He was leaning toward breaking things off with Mary. But when God came to Him, He humbly submitted to God’s plans and the relational distrust between him and Mary was put in the rear view mirror.
Some of us are dealing with what appears to be impossible relational stress and strain. We don’t see a human way things can work out. Maybe it is family we are estranged from and haven’t spoken to in years. Maybe it is a breech in a relationship with a spouse or child. We need to be open to Divine direction in our relationships. Maybe the impossible starts to become possible when we ask God, “What do you want me to do in order to help the relational tensions to be resolved?” As people seek to live according to God’s plans, He makes impossible relational harmony to be possible.
Finally, Mary faced an impossible spiritual situation.
She may not have understood the reality of her situation, but we who have the whole of Scripture, and we who are on this side of history which has proven Jesus lived, died and was raised to new life, we understand why He came. He came because you and I, like Mary, were faced with an impossibility of gaining spiritual life on our own. Oh, those before Christ engaged in spiritual activity, and they had spiritual life to the degree that God would reveal Himself to them and they were to respond obediently to that revelation. They had spiritual life in and through the provision of sacrifices and priests. That had a sort of communal spiritual life, but salvation and the ability to live free from the condemnation and penalty of sin didn’t come through sacrifices or the efforts of any priest. Salvation came through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus alone.
Mary was likely a good, little Jewish girl. She was probably pure in heart when it came to her desire to do the right thing. But even her rule-following good works wouldn’t take care of the fact that she was born a sinner, just like we all are. There is no amount of rule-keeping that will make us presentable to God. There is no number of hoops we can jump through or good works we can perform that will take care of our sin. Only the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sin. Only by exercising faith in Jesus, by believing He was God and believing He came to not only show us how to live, but to do what we couldn’t do for ourselves when it came to having our sins wiped clean, only then does an impossible situation become possible. We can have peace with God through Jesus Christ. There is no human way possible, but God has made the impossible, possible through the incarnation, life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Are you trying to earn salvation? It’s impossible. Are you just hoping that the kindness of God will give your sin a pass? It’s impossible. Salvation isn’t impossible, but it is only possible through trusting Jesus. Once again, God makes a way for the impossible to be possible, but you have to exercise faith.
Are you inviting God into your impossible situations this Christmas? Are you open to His plans? Have you exercised faith in His Word? Perhaps God wants to touch your physical body. Maybe He has a miracle for your relationships. Invite Him to speak to you about His plans.
Just before Christmas in 2007, a recently-disabled single mom attended a morning worship service. As the offering was being received, she placed five dollars—all the money in her purse—in the tray. Her mother, who was not yet a believer, cautioned her to not give away what little money she had. But the young woman said that she felt compelled to place all of her trust in the God who had given His only Son for her.
After church, the pastor learned that a couple in the church had brought Christmas gifts for the single mom and her son. The pastor had the gifts transferred from the couple (who insisted on remaining anonymous) to the young woman’s car. Among the gifts, there was also an envelope.
Riding home from church with her daughter, the grandmother opened the envelope and discovered that it contained $500. She started crying and she said to her daughter, “I never knew that the God you serve could do something this great!” In just over an hour, the Lord had given this single mom a hundredfold return on the $5 she had put in the offering. Grandma gave her heart to the Lord on the spot! Now she is a walking billboard for Jesus!
This single mom invited God into her impossibility and He showed up in a big way! Have you invited God into your impossibility? (https://lifecenter.net/sermons/2011/nothing-is-impossible-with-god/) It is your right as a Child of God.
Jesus said to His followers in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Even for those of us who understand and embrace that truth, we also have to deal with the reality that God doesn’t always perform the impossible in the ways that we think He should. What was is that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:36? “Abba, Father,” he said, “Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus knew God could do anything, and even though He knew the plan, even though He knew what would happen on the other side of the cross, the thought of going through such an excruciating event like crucifixion, had Jesus asking for reprieve. Even though the plan had been set in motion, even though Judas had already betrayed Him, even though the guards were on their way to arrest Him, Jesus knew His Heavenly Father had power and authority to stop it all. But aren’t you thankful that God didn’t answer Jesus’ prayer? Salvation wouldn’t have become possible for all of us if He had.
So why even ask? Why even invite the Father into His impossible situation? Why cry out if nothing would change? Because when we invite God into our impossible situations, His grace, His strength, His comfort and perspective come to us and enables us to endure an impossible situation for a greater purpose than would be served if He had answered our prayer. Unbelievers may look at that scenario and say, “See, God didn’t care about Jesus. He didn’t hear. He didn’t work.” But Oh, He did. God worked to accomplish the greatest miracle of all time, the greatest impossibility became possible when Jesus defeated death and rose from the grave.
The Garden of Gethsemane was no doubt Jesus darkest hour, but when He invited God into His impossibility, He gained the presence of mind, the resolve and even the strength to endure the torture of the beatings and the crucifixion and all the while continued His mission of forgiveness, forgiving people even from the cross. Perhaps what Jesus believed in the Garden was even more important than believing that God could do anything. Jesus believed and demonstrated that God knew best. Isn’t that ultimate surrender?
Have you invited God into your impossibility, into the middle of your darkest situation? When we pray, God works. When we pray, God may do a miracle in our situation—or He may do a miracle in us that enables us to go on with resolve and confidence that His plans are always best. This I know for sure: God will work in impossible ways in the lives of those who trust Him. When God shows you His favor, show Him your faith. When God reveals His plan, give Him your obedience. And when God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you want in the moment, give Him your allegiance. He is working something Divine that will prove once again that with God, all things are possible.