Sermon: Nothing is Impossible with God (Luke 1:26-38)

Nothing is Impossible With God

We have before us today, the announcement of the most wonderful event that ever happened in the world—the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ryle 21)

There has never been better Good News proclaimed than what the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary that day.  The world was tail spinning out of control in sin and had not heard from God for a while.  Then, as if out of nowhere comes an angel to A young girl from a lowly family in a no where land to announce the greatest news ever heard by human ears…

God has spoken to sinful humans.  His message is Jesus Christ, Savior.

Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.  [28] And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  [30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  [32] He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

[34] And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

[35] And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.  [36] And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  [37] For nothing will be impossible with God.”  [38] And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The doctrine that rises to the top of this text this morning is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.  Before we begin, I want to declare with all conviction that I as your pastor and all the elders believe whole heartedly in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord.  This was the way in which Jesus would make His first entrance into the world.  The incarnation is the result of Jesus being born of a human mother and the Holy Spirit.  We also realize the technically it was a virgin conception.  Jesus’ birth took place as do all births.  The divine miracle here is how Jesus was conceived.

1. Lowly Estate (Luke 1:26-27)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.

I’m not sure of Gabriel’s role as an angel, but it seems as if it has to do with making announcements of God’s redemptive plan and its fulfillment.  Last week we saw Gabriel in the temple with Zachariah, but before that, his last appearance was in the Book of Daniel which was written about 600 years before and this appearance was in response to Daniel’s prayer.  Gabriel’s words to Daniel were words of a coming salvation.

Verse 27 says she was betrothed.  From ancient Jewish customs, we understand that a betrothal was essentially a binding engagement.  In other words, once the contract was signed by the parties it could not be broken except by a divorce.  During this time of betrothal there were no intimate acts together.  The husband to be would pay the father of the bride a certain amount of money because the father of the bride was loosing a worker and the other family was gaining one.

For Mary to show up pregnant would cast enormous amount of doubt on her character.  Everyone would be wondering what was going on.  Mary and Joseph are not living up to the agreement or perhaps Mary has found someone else?

Regardless what people thought or talked about behind her back she was willing to obey God.  She feared God more than she feared man.  Would we be willing to sacrifice our reputation to do God’s will?  You say, God would never ask me to do something that would put my reputation in jeopardy…think about what this meant for Mary.  For the rest of her life she was looked down upon by those who didn’t believe.  Jesus was considered an illegitimate child and Mary an adulterer.

Mary was of lowly estate and lived in a no-name-town.  From human standards Mary was an unimportant teenager, but to God, however, she was blessed.

2. Highly Favored (1:28-29)

[28] And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  [30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

From these verses, we realize that being favored by God and being of low estate can go together.  In America for some reason we think that poverty is a sign of disfavor.  But here, it’s clear that they can and often times do go together.  This should bring up the question…In America, are we really blessed?  Are all the comforts and material things we enjoy so much really a blessing from God?  Mary was highly favored and yet remained very poor in the world’s standards.  This may challenge out engrained thinking about the stuff we have.

Mary had much the same reaction as did Zechariah when the angel appeared to him.  He was frightened she was greatly troubled.  Gabriel says his usual opening line, Do not be afraid.

I don’t want to spend much time on this, but I think it would be profitable to mention that it is these verses in which our Catholic friends twist to teach that Mary is full of grace which allows her to dispense grace to people.  The Latin Vulgate has translated this phrase gracia plena (full of grace).  That’s a correct rendering.  The problem lies when Pope Pious X declared that she is so full of grace that she has some to spare.  He has taken Mary from one who receives grace to one who is a dispenser of grace.  This is a distortion of the text.  Only God extends grace to people.  People do not extend grace to other people.  No matter how many times you say Hail, Mary full of grace, she cannot give any to you.

What is meant by the word favored here is that God chose her to bear the Lord Jesus.  She was favored or chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

The portrait Luke paints of Mary is significant. She is a model believer, taking God at his word, in contrast to Zechariah (vv. 37-38). She is favored of God (v. 30), thoughtful (v. 29; 2:19, 51), obedient (v. 38), believing (v. 45), worshipful (v. 46) and a faithful follower of God’s law (2:22-51; Craddock 1990:27-28).

It must be emphasized, however, that despite all these qualities, God’s choice of Mary to bear this child springs from his grace, not from any inherent merit that she possesses. She is the object of God’s unmerited, graciously provided goodness. Her description as one who has found favor with God (kecharitomene, v. 30) makes it clear that God has acted on her behalf and not because of her. In fact, Mary is totally perplexed by the sudden announcement. She did not ask for or seek this role in God’s plans; God has simply stepped into her life and brought her into his service. Her asset is that she is faithful. She should be honored for her model of faithfulness and openness to serve God, but that does not mean she is to be worshiped. Luke wants us to identify with Mary’s example, not to unduly exalt her person. The Announcement About Jesus (1:29-38)

—Darrel Bock’s NT Commentary

3. Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:31-33)

[31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  [32] He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke is doing his comparing or what we called last week, parallelism again.  He wants us to see some similarities between these two set of circumstances then he wants us to see the major differences which point us directly to the superiority of Jesus Christ over all men.

His comparing begins:

Yes, they are two cousins

Two miraculous pregnancies

Two hymns sang after each birth

Two great lives resulted

Both were called great

But it’s in the differences that the reality of the superiority of Christ is shown.  Both were called great but Jesus is called the Son of God.  Both were results of God intervening, Elizabeth would become pregnant in her old age but Mary would become pregnant an she knew not a man.

We must remember that Luke’s central focus in this passage is the greatness of Jesus.  So we must shift gears and begin looking to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

A. Jesus’ Position as the Son of God-

[31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  [32] He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

Matthew gives a definition to Jesus’ name when he writes that the angel tells Mary, You will call Him Jesus because He will take away the sins of His people.  Jesus means literally, Yahweh Saves. His exalted position is Son of God.  Understand, Jesus is not just to be called the Son of God.  The angel means He will be called the Son of God because He is the Son of God.

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The idea that Mary has not had any intimate relations with Joseph is clear throughout this narrative.  The baby she will have will be the Son of God not the son of Joseph.

By making this claim, the angel is telling Mary that Jesus will be God’s own Son brought about by a miraculous God wrought conception.

Hebrews 1:1-3 (ESV)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Jesus as God’s Son has the very imprint of God.  He is the exact duplicate of the nature of God.  He is one Person in the Triune Godhead…He is God.

B. Jesus’ Authority as the Eternal King (1:32b-33)

And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

As we read this portion, our minds go back in time to the portion of Scripture that was the announcement of this.  In the Book of 2 Samuel 7 where God declares to King David that David will not build for God a dynasty but God will build for David a dynasty.  Beginning with Solomon and continuing on until this prophecy finds Jesus Christ.  Jesus was the descendant of David and His kingdom will last forever.

Rev. 5:5 (ESV)

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

We also must see that Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom.  He established it and it continues in the hearts of believers for now.  When He returns, He will continue His rule.

4.  Mary’s Question (Luke 1:34-38)

[34] And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

[35] And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.  [36] And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  [37] For nothing will be impossible with God.”  [38] And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

We see that Mary’s question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” ,further proves the truth of the Virgin Birth.  In other words, it didn’t make sense to Mary either.  One thing we must also see together is that she responded in faith when she didn’t fully understand everything.

Are there times in our lives when we don’t fully see or understand what God is doing?  What should our response be?  We should respond by saying, I don’t completely understand these things but I do know that God is always good.  I will trust what I know to be true of God even though I’m not sure what He’s up to.  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Another amazing piece of this is that the average age of betrothal in Israel in these days was 12-12 ½ years old.  We don’t know the age of Mary but probably she was barely a teenager.  Her faith is extraordinary.

Next we must understand that there was no intimate act between God and Mary.  The way in which Jesus was conceived was that the Holy Spirit shall come upon or engulf you.  This is the same sort of language used in the creation account in Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2 (ESV)

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

So the offspring from Mary will be holy, God’s Son.

The angel also tells her of another miraculous pregnancy in her cousin Elizabeth.  [36] And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.

You know your relative Elizabeth, the one everyone called barren?  She is six months pregnant!

Mary is now thrust into the amazing power of God.  She is made aware of another miraculous birth.

Gabriel states the bottom line with all this…

[37] For nothing will be impossible with God.

God’s Word to His people is nothing is impossible wit God.

Are you carrying a burden that seems insurmountable today?  Is there a concern you have that from a human standpoint there seems to not relief and not answer?  Perhaps there’s a part of your Christian life that you’re struggling with?

2 thoughts on “Sermon: Nothing is Impossible with God (Luke 1:26-38)

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