CHRISTMAS DAY MORNING SERVICE, 25 December 2019
Sermon Text: Luke 1:37
I. “How will this be?”
II. “Nothing will be impossible with God!”
III. The wonder of the gospel
Unlike the other three Gospels, Luke’s Gospel begins not with Jesus’ birth, but with stories of some other people such as Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and Mary. Jesus’ birth story comes after the stories of these people. Have you thought about why Luke recorded it this way? Whether you have or not, it’s interesting to see that one of the four-fold gospels of Jesus Christ begins with the story not of Jesus but of some others. Interestingly also, Luke’s intention with these stories is to point out their reactions to the angels. Seeing them, both Zechariah and Mary were greatly troubled. Then, having heard of their messages, they both were confused and asked questions which could be summarised with Mary’s version, ‘How will this be?’ ‘How will this be?’ They meant, ‘Impossible!’
God’s intention through Luke’s recording of this account is to tell us how great and powerful God is as well as how zealous He is in redeeming sinners through sending Jesus, His Son, the only Saviour of the world. By telling us reactions of Zechariah and Mary who asked in confusion and perplexity, ‘How will this be?’, God wants to draw our attention, from the very beginning of this gospel, to how amazing is His work of preparing the way for the Messiah and actual sending of His Son Jesus into this world. Hearing this, it would be not just Zechariah and Mary, but also any and every human being would surely repeat the same question, ‘How will this be?’ ‘How will this be’ that God came in flesh and was born and laid in a manger?
So, the message for us on this Christmas morning is about ‘the wonder of the gospel.’
I. “HOW WILL THIS BE?”
And let me talk a little more about the question of Mary and Zechariah, ‘How will this be?’ Zechariah and Elizabeth were the parents of John the Baptist and they heard from an angel that they would have a son who would later prepare the way of the Messiah. Being confused, Zechariah asked, ‘How? Both I and my wife are old.’ In fact, Elizabeth was barren as the angel Gabriel later says in Lk. 1:36. Mary’s case was exactly the same as that of John’s parents. She was a virgin, had no husband. But the angel’s message was that she’d bear a son who would be great and called the Son of the Most High. ‘How?’ asked Mary. In other words, a cry of ‘That’s impossible!’ That was the only reaction both of these humans could make.
In fact, such is the attitude every man and woman show when they first hear that God saves sinners and Jesus has died for their sins. When they are told that, by simply repenting of their sins and believing in Jesus Christ, then, their sins will be forgiven, cleansed off, and they’ll be saved and Jesus’ eternal life will be given to them, they ask back and say, ‘How can this be?’ This is the feedback from everyone universally; no one is exceptional; all will say in unison, ‘How can this be?’
This work of God, how His salvation works, sounds irrational, nonsense, to the minds of the people. It can’t be that easy to cancel anyone’s wrongs. No country in the world does in their legal system recognise and accept a criminal’s confession and cancel his due punishment. No one in the world is forgiven unless he pays what he deserves, unless due punishment for his wrong is inflicted upon that person. Then, how can this be that a sinner is cleansed of all his sins through repentance which is simply an internal, mental, psychological recognition and admission of oneself as sinner who needs a Saviour? Moreover, how can an eternal life be given to him as the result of his trust in Jesus? ‘It’s impossible!’ say all men and women when they first hear of the work of God and Jesus.
II. “NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!”
God’s answer to all who doubt, repudiate and defy God’s work of salvation is, as was to Mary and Zechariah, this: “Nothing will be impossible with God!” The history of the Bible is its undeniable proof. Think about Abraham. He used to be an idol maker, a pagan, yet, God chose him and called him and led him to the land of promise. Isaac was a doubter and Jacob was a deceiver, but through them God founded Israel and made it His own. When they were slaves in a foreign land, God broke the shackle of that nation, opened the Red Sea, and rescued them. In the wilderness, for over 40 years, He fed them and supplied and met all their needs, covering them with the pillar of cloud during the day to protect them from the scorching sun, and with the pillar of fire during the night, embracing them with His warmth, protecting them from the shivering cold of the desert. That for 40 years! They even multiplied in number in that barren land! Nothing was impossible with God and nothing will be impossible with Him!
What about the history of the NT? Jesus healed numerous people, fed numerous people, and even raised dead people up! Nothing was impossible with God and nothing will be impossible with Jesus! He called the twelve as His disciples. When He was crucified, then, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, those disciples were mighty men of faith and preached the good news of Jesus everywhere they went. Especially when Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin, the then Jewish high court, they spoke and explained all about God’s work and Jesus’ lordship, and all Jewish scholars were astonished by their teaching, by their opening up of the deep things of Christ’s grace and salvation, because Peter and John used to be fishermen!
Not only that, but also all throughout the history of the world, we have uncountable number of evidences that prove that nothing is impossible with God!
Then, could God cancel anyone’s sins who repents and trusts in Jesus? Of course, He can! He can save all sinners who admit that they’ve rebelled against God and are in need of a Saviour, Jesus, the only Son of God! He can bring all penitent sinners into His eternal kingdom, make them His children, heirs of His promise. All things are possible with Him, the Lord! And the One to whom all things are possible has promised through His Son that all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved!
III. THE WONDER OF THE GOSPEL
This is the wonder of the gospel. Some say that there are seven wonders of the world; some others say that this number is eight or even twelve. But they are wrong; there’s only one wonder in the whole universe and that is ‘the wonder of the gospel.’ ‘How will this be?’ all doubt, so did even Mary and Zechariah, but God does save sinners and His Son, Jesus, did come to accomplish His Father’s saving work. So, simply accept and believe! If you can’t understand it, do not be puzzled, because it’s impossible for any man to understand. Only when he becomes a Christian, can he, then, begin to understand as he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, accept and believe in the Saviour Jesus!
What, then? All who trust in Jesus will know this wonder of the gospel and their reaction to this wonder will be praise and thanks to God in Jesus’ name. Let me remind you of what happened to Zechariah and Marry later on. Seeing and experiencing the wonder of God’s work, Zechariah praised the Lord as in Lk. 1:68, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people”! Seeing and experiencing the same wonder of God’s work and His salvation, Mary sang, and we usually call her song as ‘The Magnificat’ which begins like this, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant”!
On this Christmas day, I pray that your doubtful question, ‘How will this be? How can this be?’, may be changed to be your praise and thanks to God in Jesus, and your confession be, ‘Yes, all things are possible with God, my Saviour, and blessed be the Lord God as my soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in Jesus, my Saviour, who was born as an infant baby and visited me and changed me to be His own!’ May this day be your day of knowing and deeply enjoying the wonder of the gospel to the praise of Jesus who not only visits us, but also indwells us in His Spirit now and always! ***