Text: Luke 1:26-38 | Listen to Message
Nothing? Really? Nothing?
Buried in the story of the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary is this little phrase, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
And here’s where our minds go with that: “Nothing is impossible? Seriously? NOTHING? So God can make a square circle? And God can help me win the Powerball Lottery? And mom’s cancer is going to go into remission? And I’m going to get that promotion? And our little Christian school is going to pull the biggest upset in state history, all because we claimed this promise and made a banner before we took to the field against the 5A Devil Dogs?!” Uh…no.
Given how often – and how badly – this little phrase gets misinterpreted, let’s briefly explore three data points that help us understand what it actually means.
1. Pay attention to the context. The setting of this statement is very important. In the context, two women have been told by an angel that they’re going to bear sons – even though Elizabeth is post-menopause and Mary is a virgin. We know how sexual reproduction works, so this is not just improbable, this is biologically impossible. It can’t happen. That’s not how this works. So it’s as if the angel is acknowledging, “True, but nothing is impossible with God.
2. Pay attention to the literal translation. While our English Bibles are incredibly accurate, sometimes things get lost in translation – and we’re always wise to go back and study the original languages. In this case, the original literally says, “Not any word from God will be impossible.” In other words, if God has said something, He is able to do it, period. This is not a blanket promise that God will do whatever impossible thing we dream up to challenge Him with; this is a promise that God is always able to fulfill His word.
3. Pay attention to the wording. We often read “nothing is impossible with God” as if the angel had said, “God will do whatever you’re praying for Him to do.” Ironically, we take a phrase that leaves God in control of our lives, and we turn it around to put ourselves in control of God. But if we take this phrase at face value, we have to admit that it leaves room for God to do as He pleases. It is not impossible for God to heal cancer, or to grant a promotion, or to send you a gift to help you fix your car, but He is not obligated to do so.
This is hard for us to hear, isn’t it? If God could give us the things we’re praying for, then why wouldn’t He? To be honest, we don’t always know the answer – and that’s okay! We have not been called to understand God fully this side of heaven; we’ve been called to trust Him
So can we do that? Can we trust a God who says He loves us and is working for our good, even when we can’t see it? Can we trust a God we would agree with if we could only see things from His perspective with His infinite wisdom?
Mary trusted. And that’s why, in the very next verse, she responds by saying, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). No manipulation. No bargaining. Just availability and surrender.
And that’s where Luke 1:37 leaves us. If God is able to do all that He’s promised, our only reasonable response is to say, “Then come do whatever you want to!”