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God of Impossible

Journey to Bethlehem  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:21
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Thanksgiving has come and gone and there are now 28 days until Christmas. As we anticipate the Christmas holiday, I worked up a sermon series I am calling Journey to Bethlehem. Over the next few weeks, we are going to walk through the timeline of the New Testament leading up to the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. Today we are beginning in the book of Luke with the angelic announcement of John the Baptist’s birth.
The New Testament opens by breaking 400 years of prophetic silence. At the close of Malachi, God no longer spoke through his prophets. This does not mean that God was not silent or uninvolved in the affairs of his people. This simply meant that he had revealed all he needed to reveal through his prophets and now his written word would sill speak every day. We know that God is not absent in the proverbial silence, but continues to speak if he is sought after.
The same is true today. God no longer speaks in an official capacity through prophets like he did in the Old Testament. With the entirety of his revelation complete and canonized in the 66 books of the Bible, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer, all God needs to say has already been said. Our job is to listen to what he said.
The story of Christmas begins with the breaking of this prophetic silence one fateful day before Jesus was born.
Luke 1:5–7 NASB95
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Here, Luke sets the stage for the event that is about to unfold. There is a man named Zacharias, sometimes spelled Zechariah in other translations, who is a priest. He and his wife are very old. They have no children. The prospect of having children is long gone. This is a big deal back in those days because it meant there was no one to pass things on to when they pass away. Having no children was also seen as a sign that God had withheld blessings from you typically because of something you have done. His wife Elizabeth would have been looked down upon for never having children. She would have been seen as less of a woman. No matter whether it is true or not, when people believe something about you, it can become very easy to take on that as part of your identity. A loving husband who cares for his wife shoulders some of that burden knowing he is powerless to change it. These thoughts are likely floating in the back of their minds as he is doing his duty in the temple.
Luke 1:8–10 NASB95
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
So Zacharias is in the temple burning incense and there is a multitude of people outside praying. Zacharias was a descendant of Abijah, a priest who served during David’s reign. All the families in the tribe of Levi were priests and long ago they divided up temple responsibilities among the families so that they worked in rotation all year long. The roles were divided up in such a way that Zacharias probably only got this opportunity once in his lifetime. So to do so would be a high honor.
Luke 1:11–17 NASB95
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Woah! there is a lot going on here! First, an angel shows up! That never happens! Then an angel gives Zacharias the craziest and greatest news he could hear! You’re going to have a son! After all these years he and his wife would finally have a son. Not only that, but this son is going to turn the hearts of the people back to God! He is going to precede the Messiah, the man Israel had been hoping for. Wow. What a kid this will be!
But wait a minute…Zacharias is old.
Luke 1:18–20 NASB95
Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Just like that, Zacharias is mute. It is clear that he doubts the word of the Lord delivered by the angel. It’s kind of hard to fault the guy though, right? I mean if an angel came to Harold and Barbara White and told them they were going to have a child, that would be a pretty tough pill to swallow. How in the world is God going to do that? Zacharias’ doubt was not a matter of understanding how God was going to pull something like this off, it was a matter of God’s ability to pull this off. It’s as if Zacharias took one second to look at his and his wife’s old age and said, “Nah. That’s impossible.”
So the angel responds, “Ok. Tell you what. Because you didn’t believe me, you will be unable to speak until this baby is born.” Then the angel is gone. It’s been a while now and everybody outside is getting a little worried. He comes out is unable to speak, and the people realize he had seen a vision. He finishes his job and he and his wife go home.Nine or so months later, a baby arrives.
The baby is born in Luke 1:57-66. Elizabeth wants to name the baby John, but everyone is saying, “What for? Nobody in your family has that name.” (It was customary to name people after ancestors.) So they go to dad and he motions for a writing tablet. He writes four words: His name is John. Immediately, he regains his ability to speak.
There is no way to explain this story except to acknowledge the hand of God or resort to claiming it is a complete fabrication. Seeing this as a true historical event, there is no way to explain how this is possible unless the supernatural is possible. Since God exists, and he is by definition supernatural, the supernatural is possible.
I want you to see what Zacharias did here. He looked at his situation, considered the facts, and said this couldn’t happen. He did not believe God could do this. He looked at his circumstances and then placed limitations on what God can do.

Because God is supernatural, we must trust him to fulfill his promises no matter how impossible they might seem.

This is not the first time God had done this. He did the same thing with Abraham. If he could do it then, there is no reason to believe He couldn’t do it again. God does this as a demonstration of his power and might. He does this to demonstrate he can defy the nature he built to bring about glory for himself. He allowed Zacharias to experience this as a testimony to his power and might. Zacharias could never have taken credit for this miracle. That was the thing that was impossible. God is the God of impossible.
So many times we get it into our minds that God cannot do something we are waiting on him to do. Then we begin to question whether we heard him correctly or whether he can do what he said he would do. Also notice that God never does anything he never said he would do. Sometimes we thing he said something, but maybe that was just us. God always does just what he said he would do. This makes him trustworthy.
Zacharias thought he was too old. It seems he thought God could not overcome the physical limitations to child bearing at such an old age. The truth is we find ourselves waiting a lot longer than we thought for God to do what he said he would do. I waited thirteen years for God to fulfill his promise in calling me to pastor a church. If it had happened any sooner, I probably would not have been ready. For thirteen years I waited and questioned whether I heard him correctly and there were numerous temptations to chase other paths. Aren’t you glad I didn’t give up waiting? I know I am.
So many times we let life or culture or our sphere of influence tell us what we can’t do. You’re too old for this. You’re too young for that. You don’t have enough education for this. You don’t have enough experience for that. Oh, so and so will never change. Quit waiting for it. It’s always going to be this way, so we might as well get used to it.
Peggy Kasper is one of the oldest members in our church and she serves our preschoolers faithfully every Wednesday. It’s hard on her. She doesn’t have the energy and strength she used to. But she loves what she does and she does it with such joy. There is still fire in those bones! Don’t tell her she’s too old, and Peggy, don’t you tell yourself you are too old either.
Is there a dream God has given you? Have you been waiting a long time for that dream to be realized? Have you stopped praying for it? I can promise you Zacharias and his wife stopped praying for children. It was impossible. Marci and I got tired of praying for children. But look where we are. Has God given you a dream? It doesn’t matter what you think your limitations are. God has the power to defy them. We learned last week that God never quits anything. He finishes them. Whatever he has promised, he will do, so hold fast to your hope and keep marching forward in pursuit of what God has called you to pursue, because when he pulls it off, there will be nothing to say but how great is our God for the work he has done.
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