The Impossible Promises of God
Text: Luke 1:26-47
Proposition: The very nature of God’s promises are outside the realm of human possibility, the only response to them is a faith that receives and pursues.
Introduction: How many times have you run into the impossible in your life, into situations that were impossible, perhaps impasses of relationship, encumbrances of finance or endangerments of health? The scriptures are full of the accounts of peoples’ lives that were against all odds, lives that held onto a distant hope. Perhaps the Christmas story is the most well known of these. A young woman obscure in her culture through poverty and tradition becomes a focal point in the most impossible story ever. It is ultimately a story about Deicide, the birth and life of Jesus Christ, God entering into humanity for the sole purpose of being able to die for our sin. Even more impossible is that this occurs as the result of a promise of God. God’s promises to us are recorded throughout all the pages of scripture and there many of them, some we call prophecy as in Genesis 3 and Isaiah7, some are direct promises made to us like John 10, verse 9, “I am the door, if anyone enters through Me he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.” That’s a promise of God. We need to recognize that the very nature of God’s promises are outside the realm of human possibility, in and of ourselves we could never make them come to be. The only right response to them can be a faith that receives and pursues. Let’s take a look at that Christmas story again and see the impossible promises that God made to Mary and let’s watch to see what her response was. Read with me Luke 1:26 to 47.
I. God Promised To Interrupt Mary’s Life, Because He Loved Her.
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 meant He was eternal and so would His people be, these are the impossible promises of God made to Mary. Perhaps the most difficult to believe is this promise, “Hail favored one, the Lord is with you.” He intended it to be a statement of His love and care for people, particularly for this young woman called Mary. God interrupted Mary’s life because He had chosen her to help fulfill His great and eternal plan of redemption. It’s not hard to see that Mary’s life really was interrupted, changed to never be the same again, and the prime motivation for God choosing Mary was… His love for Mary and it brought pleasure to God to do so.
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. And it’s just as humanly impossible a work that He does in you and I as He did in Mary... and He does it for the same reason. Your salvation brings pleasure to the heart of God as He accomplishes another step in His plan of redemption through you and by you. It’s against all odds.
So how did Mary respond to such an interruption in her life?
II. The Right Responses to the Impossible Promises of God are: Go 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 bondslave 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 the same route Joseph would take with her just nine months later. In fact she would have traveled through Bethlehem to get to Hebron, the city given to the priestly families which Zacharias and Elizabeth were part of. This was no small journey, it represents 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 wants to see more, it wants to see other works of God. It’s like suddenly having a realization that you are incredibly thirsty, you’ve been thirsty all along but now you are aware of it and you need to go and drink. The first response to God’s incredible promises is to go and see.
2. Go and Receive - Mary comes into the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth and calls out a greeting. Zacharias was still locked up in silence, divinely unable to speak as he awaited the birth of John. Elizabeth and her unborn son, whom we know as John the Baptist, are filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaim a prophetic confirmation 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. Entirely possible as this a very sacred place throughout the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah were buried here, as well as Isaac and Rebeckah, Jacob and Leah. It was here that David received his first crown and it was here that circumcision was first instituted as a covenant sign. Perhaps it is here that Mary also conceives the Savior. The step to go and receive as a response of faith confirms and directs Mary as to what is about to occur. To receive is dependent upon you going, it will be a response to faith and will lead to the next step. To receive is gain further understanding, gain further connection of relationship with other believers, gain the benefit of what the filling of the Holy Spirit will do amongst believers.
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 revealing to you the thirst for knowing Christ and knowing His forgiveness and the eternal life he has promised, you go and see. The next step of obedience in this is to go and receive that which confirms and fills you in the Holy Spirit and 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. When you put something under a microscope you don’t change the size of it, you become aware of it in greater detail. ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’, she 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, can you see that He has done so because of His great love for you? 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. Praise Him. It’s time to believe in the impossible promises of God.