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“One can’t believe impossible things...”

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And take note of this, (1) you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (2) He will be great and (3) will be called the Son of the Most High. And (4) the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and (5) he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and (6) of his kingdom there will be no end……. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1: 26-33
 

"I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day." said the Queen. "I can't believe that!" said Alice. "Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes." Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland)

Six impossible things. They’re numbered in bold above. Are they unbelievable – before or after breakfast?

(1) You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. Luke, Jesus’ first century biographer, describes Mary as “a virgin (parthenos) betrothed (mnestueo) to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” Mary was legally contracted in marriage (mnestueo) to Joseph but (as was the standard arrangement) was still a virgin (parthenos) awaiting her wedding day. Mary believed.

 
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‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ (Jesus regarding rich men being saved, AD 30)

(2) He will be great.Megas.” That’s the word the angel used. Has there ever been any greater person on earth? Greater than all the Caesars combined. Greater than all the Popes combined. Greater, because of his death for his enemies, that the greatest killers this world has ever known. Mary believed.

(3) He will be called the Son of the Most High. The Most High (hupsistos) is the superlative of the word “hupsos” meaning height. The superlative means that there’s no one higher on earth or in heaven or in the universe – and this baby to be implanted in Mary’s womb will be His Son. No one higher. Not Caesar Augustus. Mary believed. Not Einstein. Not Mohammed.

(4) The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. David’s throne? King David (BC 1040-970) was the second king of the united kingdom of Israel. According to law, Jesus would, from his birth, be the son of Joseph to whom Mary was legally contracted in marriage. Joseph was a descendant of King David. To Mary’s son the Lord God would give David’s long-lost throne. Mary believed.

Did she still believe it when she saw her son crucified as a criminal outside the walls of Jerusalem in AD 30? Would he ever have the throne of his ancestor, King David? When her son was raised from the dead and, fifty days later, was received up into glory, did Mary then believe the angel’s message?

(5) He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. The house of Jacob? Jacob was a grandson of Abraham (alive c. BC 1800). His name was changed to Israel. His twelve sons became the nation of Israel. The angel told Mary that the son to be born to her would reign over Israel. Mary believed.

Did she still believe it when she saw the leaders of Israel convict him of crimes worthy of death and send him to the Roman authorities to be crucified? Did she believe it when her son rose from the dead and when God’s forgiveness was preached to all Israel (and all non-Israel) in the name of Jesus?

 
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‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ (Message to Abraham regarding the unlikely birth of his first child, Genesis 18: 14)

(6) Of his kingdom there will be no end. Luke the biographer uses an interesting word now translated “kingdom” – basilea. This word is an abstract noun meaning “dominion” or “reign”. In those years basilea was often used to describe a lawful dominion the opposite of tyrannos – the rule of one who had usurped the throne. Mary believed.

After her son had died, been raised and ascended on high, did Mary then believe her son would have an everlasting reign?

When making your Christmas decision about baby Jesus, remember that Mary was told that, despite appearances, “nothing will be impossible with God.”

 
Richard Syvret

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