Christmas Thoughts: Ridiculously Impossible!
Christmas Thoughts: Ridiculously Impossible!

Christmas Thoughts: Ridiculously Impossible!

gabriel-and-maryOf all the wonderful pieces in the Biblical Christmas story, my favorite phrase and probably the most powerful set of words are found in Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel:

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word… (Luke 1:38).

Imagine this! The young virgin named Mary will conceive and bring to full term within her the very Son of God. Is it any wonder she asked, “How can this be?” For starters, a virgin giving birth? And even crazier than that, giving birth to God’s only Son? How ridiculously impossible!! And that is just how our God does things, doesn’t He? Without doubt, God has a passion for the impossible.
Here, too (as with all of God’s Word), is another message for us. In Apostle Paul’s letters, he showcases before us a similar, yet even more ridiculously impossible challenge. He told the Galatian church that he was praying that Christ would be “formed” within them:

“My little children, for whom I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you” (Gal 4:19 Amplified).

Imagine this! The life and character of Jesus being formed within the believing Christian! For some, developing the character of Christ may seem like a simple adjustment: “If I can just go to church long enough, the character of Christ should ‘rub off’ on me.” “If I read the Bible enough and listen to enough sermons, it should begin to ‘stick’ to me.” But, quite to the contrary, the Scriptures reveal how utterly impossible it is for fallen humanity to make such a change (see Rom 3:23 Amplified; Rom 5:12; Jer 13:23; Isa 64:6). No amount of church-going, or studying, or good works can ever transform the base character of sinful and sin-natured man.
James takes it one step further to make the point that even our smallest member, the tongue, cannot be trained: “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). If we cannot tame the smallest member, how can we ever hope to tame our entire life!
Paul makes this observation about his own life:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice (Rom 7:18-19 NKJV).
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25 NKJV)

Surely, anyone who is honestly looking into the mirror of God’s Word will recognize how hopeless our situation is.
At one point, when the disciples began to glimpse a clearer picture of what God expects from man, they blurted out something similar to Mary’s question: “Who, then, can be saved?!” Jesus’ answer came back just as swiftly as that of Gabriel to Mary:

 “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

We are called to have the fullness of Christ formed within us (see also Rom 8:29; Eph 4:13-16; Col 1:27-29). This is, unquestionably, beyond our human abilities; but I am convinced that Gabriel’s words to Mary are placed right there in Scripture in order to answer our “how” question also. There are two parts to Gabriel’s answer.

1. How? It is by the Holy Spirit

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…” (Luke 1:35).

This impossible work of Christ being formed within us can only be accomplished by the Third Person of the Trinity who comes as the “Helper” (John 14:16-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15) to dwell within us. Here is how Paul describes the process of metamorphosis performed within us by the Holy Spirit:
And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured [Greek, “metamorphoō”] into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit (2 Cor 3:18 Amplified).

2. How? It is by the Word of God

As we continue pondering the story, we read how Gabriel qualified exactly why this would happen:

For with God nothing is ever impossible and NO WORD from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment (Luke 1:37 Amplified).

When God speaks, His very Word is filled with potency (like a seed) to fulfill itself! When God said, “Let there be light” (only two words in the Hebrew, “exist light”), those very words (and nothing else) created light the moment they left His lips!
God’s Word is not just another book of ink on paper. It is not some training handbook or a list of nice suggestions that we can follow. No way! God’s Word, the “Living and Abiding” Seed (1 Pet 1:23) that has existed from all eternity before ever being heard by men or being written on paper. The Bible is the ONLY book that is literally ALIVE! Like a “seed,” every Word of God has power of its own to “fulfill itself” and produce within us the transformation into Christ-likeness.
In Ezekiel and Jeremiah, we find prophecies of the New Covenant which God has now made available through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. Note how inclusive these New Covenant promises are:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NKJV)
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NKJV)
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

While it is ridiculously impossible for us, God has, nonetheless, made every provision to see His work accomplished. He sent His Son to provide forgiveness and redemption through His death and resurrection. He sent the Holy Spirit as the “Helper” to dwell within us and perform that work of metamorphosis. And, of course, He has given His Word – the “living and abiding seed”. Yet there is one more important element – our response! Mary could have just as easily replied with a “no” to Gabriel. She could have given a thousand excuses and told Gabriel to find someone else. She could have called the whole thing a hoax and discounted the whole angel-thing as a figment of her imagination….but she didn’t! Instead, she responded with simplicity, humility, surrender, and trust.
This wonderful and ageless portion of the Biblical Christmas story demonstrates God’s plan for us today. It is a ridiculously impossible and miraculous work performed within us by the Holy Spirit and by the Word of God. As ridiculously impossible as it was for Mary, it is just as ridiculously impossible for us. As possible as it was for God to perform the miracle in Mary, it is just as possible for Him to perform the miracle in us. So let’s respond just like Mary did: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy Word!”

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