Text: Luke 1:26-45
The angel answered [Mary], ‘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. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.’Luke 1
With these words, all the promises of God concerning the birth of the Messiah come to fulfillment. By these words, the Holy Spirit caused the virgin Mary to conceive in her womb the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. He who created all flesh became flesh for us to redeem us from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil – for nothing will be impossible with God.
That phrase which we heard, “nothing will be impossible with God,” is a good English translation of a Greek idiom. An idiom – for those of us who haven’t been to an English class in a while – is a word or phrase that really only makes sense in its original language. A couple examples for us would be to say, “It’s a piece of cake,” or, “kill two birds with one stone.” That phrase, “nothing will be impossible with God,” is an idiom that literally says, “Every word is not impossible to God.” In Greek, this is really an interesting way for Gabriel to phrase it because the word that he uses for, well, “word,” has a specific meaning. It means a spoken word and, often, a spoken word from God through a prophet. In essence, what Gabriel told Mary is that nothing that God spoke and promised through the prophets is impossible for Him to do.
We heard an example of God’s promises in the Old Testament reading tonight. When David was an old man, and the Lord had granted him rest from all his enemies, he set out to build a house for the Lord. But the Lord said to him through the prophet Nathan,
The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. I will be to Him a father, and He shall be to Me a son.2 Samuel 7
Another example we are reminded of tonight is this, from Isaiah 7, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (v. 14) What Gabriel said to Mary is that, when God makes a promise, He is able to keep it – no matter how impossible it may seem to us.
Often, God’s promises do seem impossible to us. Yet, that does not limit Him. We would never reach an end if we were to speak of all of His promises. But, remember now Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, and Elizabeth. Each of these women was barren, but the Lord by His Word of promise gave them great joy in the birth of children. They who were barren gave birth, because none of God’s promises are impossible for Him to keep. These miraculous births in Scripture point ahead to the true miraculous birth, of the Son of God from the virgin Mary. Gabriel said, “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, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (vv. 32-33)
He continued, “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.” (v. 35) St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that all the promises of God find their “Yes” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20), and we see that beginning tonight. Here, in this text, at the moment Gabriel spoke these words – that is when the Son of God became flesh in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit worked through the Word to bring to fulfillment all of His promises through the prophets. But, it’s not just God’s promises of old that are easy for Him to keep – He also keeps His promises to us.
He has promised to send us out leaping like calves from the stall, as we heard on Sunday. He has promised to cleanse us from all our iniquities and cause our sins to be remembered no more. He has promised to deliver us from all our days of trouble and be with us always, even in the midst of them. These promises are not difficult for God to keep, a fact He demonstrates in our text tonight. Just as He was able to cause a virgin to conceive and give birth without the intervention of man, so He is able to grant us the forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and entrance into His eternal kingdom. All of that starts here, which is why John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb. He knew, as we are reminded tonight, “Nothing is impossible with God.”