The Promise of Christmas
Luke 1:26-33 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
One of the most important elements of the Christmas story was Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. We are all familiar with the message he gave her.
I. The Proclamation
I believe I know what my reaction would be if an angel appeared to me. I would be troubled at his presence. I have no doubt that I would be afraid. For that reason, when I read this account, I was intrigued by the fact that apparently Mary was not troubled by the fact that there was an angel. She was troubled, but not by his presence.
When the angel greeted her and told her that she was highly favoured, she was troubled at the saying. She knew that being born and raised in Nazareth, the angel could not be calling her highly favoured. There must be some mistake. What could possibly cause Gabriel to think that a young girl from Nazareth was highly favoured?
Gabriel then proceeded to give her the news that she was going to have a baby – before she was expecting. That is not the way it usually happens.
I remember the excitement both times we found out we were going to have a baby. But the Dr. did not tell us we were going to have a baby until we were expecting. And when we got the news, we were so anxious for that baby to be in our arms. The waiting was almost unbearable.
An amazing thing about that time is that I was just as excited as Tammy about announcement and all of the preparation. And the process of getting from the announcement obviously changed Tammy’s life more than mine and yet she was still so excited.
I cannot even imagine how this proclamation that she was going to have her first child, while she really was just a child herself, affected Mary. She must have been excited and happy and afraid.
The Bible tells us that Mary went to visit with Elisabeth. When Elisabeth saw Mary, she prophesied concerning the child to which Mary would give birth. One of the most notable sayings of Mary was her response to that prophesy.
More than likely, Mary did not have a full understanding of what was in her future but she did not know she had been chosen of God. The proclamation and the prophesy were the beginning of a fearful and exciting time for her.
Luke 1:46-48 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
II. The Problem
Now going back to our text, look at Mary’s response to Gabriel after he told her she would have a child.
We cannot even start to imagine the enormity of this problem in her day – because of the lack of morals in the society of our day. At the time of this account, an unmarried woman who was expecting a child was either guilty of adultery or fornication – both punishable by death. So along with all of the blessings and excitement at the time of the great proclamation, there is a real problem with her being unmarried, espoused to Joseph and expecting a child.
Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Joseph knew his integrity and his own purity. He knew that the child was not his. It was not just Mary that was going to have to suffer the stares and comments of those around them for the next nine months. Joseph’s life was going to be very different as well.
But that is not even the problem. Mary has not been with a man to bring about this conception. How can a virgin have a child? Who is going to believe such a claim?
In Mary’s response to Gabriel, I can almost hear the unspoken accusation, what you are promising me just doesn’t make sense. It is impossible for you to give me what you promised me.
The truth is, no matter how impossible a situation seems, you can trust God. Take Him at His word.
III. The Promise
At Mary’s objection, that is basically what Gabriel told her. Take God at His word. Trust Him completely. He just said it in a different way.
Luke 1:35-37 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Gabriel was not just giving Mary a promise. He was giving her something to which she could attach her confidence. He gave her two hooks on which to hang her faith.
First of all, Mary, your aged relative, Elisabeth, who is too old to bear children is with child. She is six months along. Think about that when doubt tries to tell you that it is impossible for God’s promise to come true in you.
Second of all, Mary, you need to understand a very important truth and build your confidence squarely upon it. There is nothing that is impossible with God.
Every one of us have the same two things at our disposal. We have the testimony of God’s miraculous power in our lives and in the lives of others. And we have the promises of the Word of God that tell us it is impossible for God to lie, and He will never leave us nor forsake us, and we could go on and on. The impossible is well within His realm of power.
We need to let the story of Christmas cause our faith to increase. Let the hope of the season take hold in our hearts. Immanuel, who came way back then, still comes to us and abides with us. The promise of Gabriel to Mary still holds true today – With God, nothing shall be impossible.
The truth is, that promise came hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. The proclamation of Gabriel was just the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise…of that prophecy.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
What are you facing that would take a miracle bigger than the virgin birth? Christmas ought to remind us of the power of God to do the impossible.
When the rich young ruler had come to Jesus wanting the secret to eternal life. Jesus told him about keeping the commandments. The young man thought he did not have any problem with any of them. But when Jesus told him there was one thing lacking and told him to go sell what he had and give to the poor, the young man walked away sorrowful because he had great riches. Jesus took that opportunity to teach the disciples a very important principle.
The things that we see as impossible may be impossible with men, but with God all things are possible. Always remember that the promise of Christmas is the message that the angel gave to Mary that night and the same message that Jesus told His disciples that day and the same message is for all of us today.
Matthew 19:23-26 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
The Promise of Christmas is, For with God, nothing shall be impossible. Yes, …with men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible…
It was the same promise given to Abram when Isaac was promised.
Genesis 18:11-14 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
What a question the Lord asked Abraham, …Is anything too hard for the Lord?… Jeremiah seemed to have an answer to that question.
Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
If you are having trouble believing that God is able to take care of the impossible in your life. Step outside on a clear night and look up. Contemplate the One who put all the stars in place and established the orbits of the planets in our universe and who caused the Earth to rotate on an invisible axis at just the right speed to make gravity work properly. Or take a trip to the mountains and look at the beauty of a mountain stream or the majesty of the mountain peaks. God did that and started with nothing. Then measure your problem in light of the enormity of the miracle of creation and the spectacular miracle of the virgin birth and believe again. It is amazing how small our problems look when measured against His power.
Take hold of the promise of Christmas and make it your own. Let God do the impossible in your life today.