December 22, 2019
Pastor Jason Rogers
There are going to be a lot of people this week excited about Santa come to town. They are going to put out milk and cookies. The Elf on the Shelf will be on display and doing tricky little things. I didn’t know about Elf on the Shelf until recently. I don’t know how new that is, but it seems like a fairly new thing, and it helps kids behave, I hear, by letting them know the elf is watching. So, people will be doing that.
They’ll be singing Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Many kind people with good intentions are going to tell you, “Happy Holidays.” And they are going to say it, because they want to be inclusive and not to offend anyone. For many children, the news of Santa is going to bring them great joy. For many adults and children alike, we will wait with great anticipation for the gift that a loved one purchased for us.
So many people will receive these gifts. And some, without even necessarily realizing it, will judge a gift based on how much it cost, the quality of the gift, and the time put into the gift. They will judge that gift and will determine that those things equal how much that person loves them. And because of this judgment, many people, even on Christmas week, will go out and brave the weather, fight the crowds and fight the traffic, all to find that impossibly perfect gift for the ones they love.
But, many of us have been taught that it is not about what you get; it is about what you give. For Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Prayerfully, though, throughout all of this and all of the Christmas presents and the traffic and the crowds and the malls and all of those just using Amazon to purchase everything, in the end (prayerfully) it’s all about love.
If you have been following along with our Jesse Tree series, today’s ornament is a heart. This heart represents love. We’re going to talk a little bit, and hopefully, sometime later, you’ll read the Jesse Tree story of Mary and learn about Mary’s love. More importantly, you learn about God’s love.
Turn in your Bible to Luke chapter one. We’re going to start in verse 26 and talk about this love that is like no other. It is amazing story.
26 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.
This Christmas, let us celebrate three things:
1. An impossible love
There is much to celebrate, but let’s celebrate these three things. The first one is, let us celebrate an impossible love. What was it that was so impossible about this love? Well first, we’re looking at God’s love for a broken world. We know what it says in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world…” It’s an amazing thing, because we find that God was willing to give up something precious. He was willing to give up something that most of us would not even consider. It wouldn’t even cross our minds.
He was willing to sacrifice his own child for other people. Who amongst us would even pause for a second to consider sacrificing our child for other people? I, personally, can’t even imagine it. It is unfathomable. I can’t even begin to consider giving up my son for other people. There is not a circumstance that enters into my mind where I would say, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.”
What kind of love must you have in order to send your one and only son to die for people, some of whom don’t even know you? -to die for people, some of whom don’t even like you, for some who have been working against you intentionally, for some who would say they hate you?
What kind of love can someone possibly have that would cause them to be willing to give up his or her one and only child for us? -for us who even in this very moment can find ourselves ungrateful and undeserving? I know one thing is for sure; I haven’t done enough good deeds in my life for God to love me like that. I haven’t been a good enough person for God to love me like that.
But isn’t that what unconditional love is? Isn’t unconditional love the ability to love and care for, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what that person has done or the crimes they have committed, the lies they’ve told or the pain, suffering, and dishonor they’ve brought upon the family? We love them anyway.
I think about my own parents. I think about how my mom and dad, no matter what I did or how disappointed I thought they may be in me, they still loved me no matter what. They still got angry at me, and I was disciplined many, many, many times. But, they still loved me. No matter what I did, I could always go back to them, and they would embrace me and love me. But, I was fortunate enough that my father and mother taught me that God loves me even more than they ever could.
The Bible teaches that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. So, it is difficult to even enter into our minds the kind of love that God has for us. He is certainly a Father like no other. We serve a great God!
So, what is so impossible about this love? A miraculous conception. I mean, this is one of the things that separates our God from people who worship other gods. Jesus was born of a virgin. Now, nobody had heard of this. This thing doesn’t just happen. As a matter of fact, Mary was like, “Hold on just one second. Tell me how that’s supposed to be, because I’m a virgin. How does that work? I know I’m young and unlearned in some things, but that isn’t one of them.” But the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God…
Mary was given a child. The Bible is specific to says, “In your womb, this child will be conceived,” lest anyone think that she went through an adoption agency. It is quite an amazing thing. And what’s so impossible even about this miraculous conception was that Mary was engaged, not married.
This, back then, was not a thing. This was not okay. You could not be pregnant and not be married. You would bring shame and dishonor to your entire family. If a woman was pregnant without being married in this day and time, she was liable to be stoned, to be killed, for doing something that she should not have done. (Of course, the guy would be just fine, but guys get away with a lot.)
It’s amazing because Mary knew this, and Joseph knew this. Yet, Mary agreed to this. It’s fascinating because Mary hesitated for a moment, but then she was like, “Yeah, cool. Let’s do this.” And the thing that’s so impossible about this that I don’t understand is that Mary was likely only 14 years old.
Now, some of you have been blessed and highly favored to raise teenage girls. I’ve got a boy (thank you, Jesus!), but I have sisters, younger sisters. And you know, I don’t remember a lot of times when my dad or mom could ask them to do something one time, and they were like, “Yeah, I’m going to do that.”
They were teenage girls. They had their own minds. And this teenage girl just said, “Okay.” She asked a question and then was like, “Okay, cool.” This is fascinating to me! But there was something about what was happening, something about this moment. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that there was an angel standing in her living room.
Later on in the the Bible, angels are described as having six wings and having a face like lightning. For the purposes of this illustration, we’ll just go with that one. Imagine that! Some being pops up in your living room. It has six wings, is somewhere above eight feet tall, and its face looks like lightning. Mary is like, “Yeah.” What? Again, our minds can’t even begin to understand or comprehend what is happening. But even Mary knew that this moment was bigger than her. Something incredible was going on.
What is so impossible about this love? We see Mary’s love for the Son of God. This again is something completely fascinating to me, because Mary was the first human to sacrifice for the human Savior. She was the first human being to sacrifice for a human Jesus. She sacrificed her body. She even sacrificed her reputation. She sacrificed her time and her energy.
I have heard… that childbirth can be strenuous… that it can be a little, well, stressful. And Mary is about to give birth to the Son of the living God. It is an interesting thing, because not only is she about to give birth to the Son of the living God, but she will live a life where she is honoring a child that has authority over her.
This is a fascinating concept. I tried to put myself in a position where I could understand this, and I looked at my son, Josiah. I love him. For me and Rhonda, this is one of our favorite people (well actually, not one of; he is our favorite person), and I adore him. But in my mind, I can’t get to the place where as a child, he has authority over me. I mean, the idea that he would be in charge…I don’t know. That’s a hard bridge to cross over. I love him. He’s adorable. 16 years old. Great kid. But, in charge of me? Authority over me?
This is something that Mary had to deal with. Mary had to make sure that the King of Kings ate His vegetables! I mean, really. She had to make sure that the Savior of the world knew His ABC’s. It was her job to make sure that she was there, that she was there for a man who would change everything.
The other thing that I find so impossible about Mary’s love for the Son of God is that she wholeheartedly agreed to care for a child that she did not choose. If you read the Scriptures, there wasn’t an opportunity for Mary to be like, “Hmmm. Let me think about it.” She didn’t really have a chance to say, “Uh, the timing is not really good right now. I’m engaged. I’m getting married soon. Come back in a year, maybe.” She didn’t even get the chance. But yet, she loved Jesus. She was excited about the opportunity. It is an amazing thing what a mother will do for her child.
2. An impossible job
As we continue, the next thing I want to celebrate is an impossible job… truly an impossible job. I mean, who would think that in their future they would have to carry the Savior of the world? -that it would be their job to raise the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords? I mean, who amongst us would even think that it would be our duty to protect the King of Kings, the Savior of the world, the man who one day all of us will call Father? -that would protect the one who at His very name, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord?
Who amongst us, even Mary herself, would think that this was part of our future? I mean, what an impossible job to have! What an impossible task to be given! And I kept thinking, how do you even go about walking this walk and just simply doing it? What does that take? The conclusion that I came to is that you would have to have a sheer unlimited amount of faith.
You would have to have the kind of faith that when an angel shows up in your living room and tells you that you’re going to give birth to the Savior of the world, you’re going to say, yes. I mean, that’s a different kind of faith. That’s a different level of faith.
And I ask myself, is it impossible to have this kind of faith? The truth, the reality, is that alone? Yes; absolutely. No person just wakes up with this amount of faith. We get this kind of faith from the Lord Himself. God granted them this faith. God was with them every step of the way.
Have you ever had something seemingly impossible happen in your life? Have you ever encountered a situation where you said to yourself, “There is just no way!”? I mean, this kind of faith was life-altering, next-level kind of faith. -the kind of faith that we all should have. When Mary and Joseph took on this impossible task, this impossible job, make no mistake; they did not do it alone. God called Mary to something impossible. But then, He gave her something impossible. -an unlimited faith.
3. An impossible God!
So, when you are given something impossible, you need an impossible God. When we face circumstances and situations for which there is just no way, we need an impossible God. We need a God who looks down at our big things and says, “Oh, I’ve got that. All you had to do was ask.”
Have you ever run across something that was so amazing that you said, “That’s a miracle! Look what God did!”? That’s because God specializes in the impossible. This impossible God that we serve in the Scripture, the angel let Mary know that there is nothing impossible with God. In verse 38, it’s amazing. Mary looked back at the angel and said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.” I mean, this is an impossible faith!
This is, “Yes God; send me. I’ll go. The circumstances in front of me, I know I can’t do by myself. The circumstances before me, I know those things that are impossible. There is no way that I, just little old me, could do that. But the God I serve is a big God. The God I serve is the God of the impossible. He is a great God. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. His ways are higher than my ways. He does things that I couldn’t even imagine. He does things that I am terrified of, but He can squelch my fear and make it simple.”
Mary looked at the angel and said, “I serve the most high.” Shouldn’t this be our response? Shouldn’t it be our response when God requests something of us? Has God ever given you a dream? Has God ever given you an insurmountable goal? Has He ever placed something on your heart that seemed impossible? It just seemed outside the realm of possibility? Has He ever given you something that you didn’t even believe in yourself enough to think that you could do? Has He ever given you something for which somebody around you told you, “No, don’t do that”?
Or maybe He’s given you something to which somebody around you told you to wait. “It’s not your time yet. Don’t go. Don’t do that thing. You need to have patience.” And how many of us are still waiting a year, five years, 20 years later, after you know God has gifted you and has given you something? He has resourced us, yet we still hesitate. We are still fearful. We are still unsure.
But as this angel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.” When you serve an impossible God, when you serve a God who specializes in the impossible, there is nothing that is out of your reach. Jesus Himself said that we would do things even greater than the things He had done.
Who would have imagined 2000 years ago that you could pick up the phone and talk to somebody in China? Who could imagine 2000 years ago that you could put in your pocket a device that just 100 years ago, the memory in that device would have taken up an entire warehouse, several football fields-worth of computers? It is an amazing thing that God has gifted us with, and that’s just talking about technology.
But the things that you can do, God has already given you everything that you need. The thing that God has called you to do that’s been on your heart, go do it. Stop waiting. If God calls you, He makes it possible. If God is the one who placed it on your heart, if He has given you an assignment, be obedient to the Lord. Go, and do that thing. And you will be amazed at how God shows up and shows out. You will be amazed at what God will do in your life when we are just obedient.
And how obedient was Mary when the angel said, “You will give birth to the King”? And that king, that baby boy, would change the future of all humanity. He would go on to change everything. And that was just one person at one time saying, yes. So, you know what? My response to God when He requests something of me is, “Yes, God. Send me. I’ll go. Yes, God. If you call me, I’ll go. Give it to me, God. I’ll do it. Absolutely. Whatever you ask of me, I’ll do it. Choose me!”
This should be our response to God’s calling on our lives. Because I tell you, we serve a great God. We serve a great God! He is amazing with all His majesty and wonder! And here we come to Christmas. We celebrate the birth of the King and Savior, the one who changed your life, the one who canceled your debt of sin and allowed you access to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Do you serve a great God? Do you serve a God who specializes in the impossible? Do you serve a God who loves you so much, He was willing to pay for you to be a part of his family? And He paid for you in blood, the blood of His Son, His one and only. That is the God that I serve. That is the God that in this holiday season that separates all the noise and all the other celebrations, that is the true reason for the season.
It is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. If God has chosen you to do something, don’t look back and say, “It’s impossible.” Say, “Thank you!” and say, “Yes.”
- Today I want to acknowledge the greatest gift ever given and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
- This week I will seek out the opportunity to share the true “Reason for the Season” and share Jesus.
- I’ve been so focused on what’s wrong, but this week I will be grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ.
- What do you do when you are afraid and think something is impossible?
- Has God ever done something for you that you thought was impossible?
- Have you ever hesitated with what God was asking you to do?
- Go back and read Luke 1:37. Do you apply this scripture to your own life?