Christmas is upon us and you know what that means?!
Time to find an evening to watch “Charlie Brown’s Christmas!”
No, seriously, if you are a baby boomer like I am, you have been watching this animated story annually since the 1960’s!
I used to sit, transfixed to the old tube as Linus with his blankie recited the entirety of the second chapter of Luke. I hung onto his every word as if he were Billy Graham preaching a revival. We didn’t know then, that God would use a little cartoon to reach the masses, but for some people that was and still is the only time they would hear the Christmas story in it’s truest form, straight from the scriptures.
The words “ Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth” are not only known to Linus, but to everyone who has ever attended a church Christmas play!
Those familiar words begin a beautiful story but if we aren’t careful, we will find ourselves taking them for granted as we know the lines so well.
For that reason, I want to share another verse in the Christmas story that I think will point us towards the amazing hope of that historical event. It is a message that is sorely needed in a time that we may feel all looks hopeless for our world, our nation and maybe our individual lives.
Instead of starting our Christmas story with the second chapter of Luke, I want to start it in the first chapter with our focus on 1:26-38:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the [s]descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was [t]Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, [u]favored one! The Lord [v]is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 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 name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How [w]can this be, since I [x]am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the [y]holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and [z]she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For [aa]nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the [ab]bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
So, let’s take a closer look at this passage. We have an angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to a virgin named Mary. Gabriel’s name means “man of God” and his ministry involves making special announcements concerning God’s plans.
We know that Mary is perplexed at his announcement. No doubt, angels visiting people was not a common occurrence and this situation is no exception. After she regroups from the fact that an angel is talking to her, she has to come to grips with his announcement.
She, a virgin, would conceive a child without a man. He would be holy and called the Son of God. As this astounding news is sinking in, she is then told that her cousin Elizabeth, has conceived a son in her old age.
What on earth is happening here? How can these things even be possible? She had to wonder if she was dreaming? How do virgins conceive without sexual relations? How do old women past menopause end up pregnant? And maybe the biggest question of all that Mary had to wrestle with is “why me?! I am no one important that he should favor me or use me at all?”
But, Gabriel, knowing that Mary is most certainly reeling from all of this profound news makes a statement that sums up one of the most amazing aspects of the character of God. Did you catch it in verse 37?
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
The God who created the universe, parted the red sea, delivered Israel time and again from her enemies, is now going to provide the Messiah who was prophesied about several times in the Old Testament. The time is now, it is going to happen, no matter how crazy it all sounds.
Why? Because nothing is impossible with God.
How many times would these words that Gabriel spoke come to Mary’s mind throughout Jesus’ life?
Did she remember them when as a child, he was missing and found him in the temple leaving the teachers there amazed at his questions and answers about spiritual things?
Did she remember these words when she was at a wedding and the wine ran out and her son performed a miracle by turning water into wine?
Was Mary aware that her own son, pointed out this very truth to his own disciples when they asked who could possibly be saved from sin?
In Matthew 19 we read: “6 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The angel Gabriel and Jesus both knew this truth, but what about us?
When we worry about the affairs of the world, do we really believe that God is big enough to deal with Isis, world disease, starvation and corrupt leaders?
When we worry about our nation, do we believe that God can work despite who got elected, whether or not the economy collapses, whether rioting breaks out in the streets?
What about our personal lives? Do we believe that God can handle our trials, our sorrows, our losses, our health, our finances, our wayward children?
What about the bad thoughts, habits, attitudes and desires that we struggle desperately to overcome? Are they too big for God?
Can we truly be saved from sin because God came in the flesh and took our punishment upon him?
According to the apostle, John, this is true:
1 John 1:9″ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Can we be transformed and become born again becoming a child of God, by believing in Jesus Christ?
Again, John tells us:
John declared the same message that is a theme throughout scripture. Gabriel knew it well.
What a profound truth that the angel declared to Mary! What a statement that sums up the whole Christmas story!
Dear ones, whatever situation in life that you find yourself in this Christmas season, may you grab hold of the hope that we have in that babe who came to the world to deliver us from sin.
Because, nothing is impossible with God!