Believing in the God of the Impossible
Text: Luke 1:26-47
Proposition: God’s promises are outside the realm of human possibility, our only response is a faith that receives and then pursues them.
Introduction: How many times have you run into the impossible in your life, into situations that were impossible, relationship impasse, financial encumbrance, health endangerment? The scriptures are full of the accounts of lives that were lived against all odds, lived in the face of the impossible. Perhaps the Christmas story is the most well known of all these. It’s the story of God entering humanity for the sole purpose of being able to die. Even more impossible is that the life and death of this God man, this Jesus, was for the express purpose of carrying away the most toxic substance known to mankind. It’s the toxicity of sin and it outlasts the grave. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world, that’s what John the Baptist declared because he believed in the promises that God had made to us all, no matter how impossible they sounded. Some of God’s promises we call prophecy as in Genesis 3 and Isaiah7. Some of His promises are more plainly spoken to us like John 10:9, “I am the door, if anyone enters through Me he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.” We need to recognize that the very details of God’s promises to us are outside the realm of human capability. In and of ourselves we could never make them come to be and in that sense they are impossible, but for God the impossible is impossible. Let’s take a look at that Christmas story again and see these promises that God made to Mary, watch to see what her response was. Read with me Luke 1:26 to 47.
I. God Promised To Interrupt Mary’s Life… Because of Love.
Would you call an unplanned pregnancy, an unsettled marriage and a transient lifestyle, interruptions in Mary’s life? Absolutely! Promises to conceive though yet a virgin; promises that her child would be the Son of God; promises that He would be a King; promises that His kingdom would never end; these are the impossible promises of God made to Mary. Perhaps the most difficult to believe is the promise, “Hail favored one, the Lord is with you.” It’s hard to see how all this interruption, all this crisis and uncertainty could possibly be interpreted as God’s favor and yet there it is. God interrupted Mary’s life because He ‘favored her’, He loved her and had chosen her specifically to be a key part in the plan of redemption. Mary’s life really was interrupted, changed to never be the same again, and the prime motivation for God choosing Mary in this way was… it pleased Him to do so. That’s why He favored her.
It’s really the same greeting that God has said to you and I who are Christians, isn’t it. It’s because we are favored in His sight that we have received His grace, that we have been given a gift of faith to receive and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior . And it’s just as humanly impossible a work that He does in you and I as He did in Mary. The Holy Spirit has been sent to now take up residence in you, to indwell you! And He does it for the same reason. Your salvation brings pleasure to the heart of God. Through every person’s life that is transformed by Christ , great joy comes to the heart of God. In Luke 15:10 Jesus said, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” It is against all odds, against all probability and yet it brings pleasure to the heart of God to bring faith in Christ alive in you… and it will interrupt your life… gloriously. So how did Mary respond to such an interruption in her life?
II. The Right Response to God’s Impossible Promises: Go and See; Go and Receive; Go and Proclaim.
1. Go and See - A. W. Tozer once said, “The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.” We know that when the angel had finished talking with Mary her response was that she believed. In verse 38 she declares, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” That was faith, but look what happens next. She immediately leaves Nazareth and journeys to the hill country of Judea. The route she took was probably exactly the same route Joseph would take with her just nine months later. In fact she would have traveled right through Bethlehem to get to Hebron, the Levite city given to the priestly families such as Zacharias and Elizabeth. This was no small journey, it represented a very rugged walk of about 80 miles. When God makes an impossible promise to us, one that is against all odds, faith will not let you sit still. It’s like suddenly having a realization that you are incredibly thirsty and that you’ve been thirsty all along but just now are aware of it and you need to go and drink. The first response to God’s incredible promise is to go and see.
2. Go and Receive - Mary comes to the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth and calls out a greeting. Instantly Elizabeth and her unborn son John are filled with the Holy Spirit as they hear Mary’s voice. Elizabeth, in the Spirit, proclaims to Mary that she is indeed to be the mother of the Christ. Some commentators believe that it was actually in Hebron, in Elizabeth’s home that the Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived Jesus. It’s entirely possible as this was very sacred place throughout the Old Testament. Abraham and Sarah were buried here as well as Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah. It was here that David was first anointed king and it was here that circumcision was first instituted as a covenant sign. Perhaps it is here that Mary also conceives and carries the Son of God, Christ the Savior. The response to go and see is always followed by the response to go and receive. Faith will be used to direct Mary as to what is about to occur, but to receive… this was dependent upon her going. What did Mary receive that day at Elizabeth’s home? Was it further understanding, confirmation and encouragement? Was it the very person of Christ? What you and I receive because we go will be more than we expected, it will be the outworking of an impossible promise to us and through us by the Spirit in us.
3. Go and Proclaim - Look at the first words that come from Mary in verse 46, 47. “My soul exalts (magnifies) the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior.” When an impossible promise of God has been given to you and faith is awakened in you, you go and see. It will lead to the next step of go and receive what the Holy Spirit at the direction of Jesus Christ intends for you. It’s when you receive that then the desire to go and proclaim manifests itself. Go and proclaim what you might ask? You proclaim that which you hadn’t seen before. You proclaim that which you didn’t have before but now have received as a gift. It’s like any gift that you’ve received that you weren’t expecting and the greatness of the gift was way more than what you could have hoped for, you proclaim to others this gift. When God is the gift, the Son of God given to you for the purpose of taking the most toxic thing to you out of the way, your sin… it’s the gift of eternal life in Christ! And the amazing thing is that the gift isn’t just for you, it can be for any who will stop and bend low to receive it, who will repent and believe.
When you put something under a microscope you don’t change the size of it, you just become aware of it in greater detail. ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’, Mary said. Her spirit rejoiced greatly in God. Charles Spurgeon put it like this… “Prayer is the stalk of the wheat, but praise is the ear of the wheat: it is the harvest itself. When God is praised, we have come to the ultimate. This is the thing for which all other things are designed.”
Has God interrupted your life, do you see that He has done so because of His great love for you, because it brings Him great pleasure. Has God made these kind of humanly impossible promises to you, has He said He would come and live in you, has He said He would wash you in the grace of His gift of Christ, has he called you His child? Let your soul magnify the Lord, let your spirit rejoice greatly in the God of your salvation. Let your praise of God magnify the Lord.