Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10/20- Nothing is Impossible with God Luke 1:34-38

(Annunciation- Henry Ossawa Tanner)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.


Lk. 1:34- 38
34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God." 38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Calvin abridged: “How will this be?” Even the holy virgin confines God’s power to narrow limits just as Zechariah had done. She concludes that what is beyond the way things usually happen is impossible. While she ought to have immediately by faith given thanks to the boundless power of God, she instead holds back restricting God to the ordinary power of generation. Still she doesn’t stop there permanently but is only astonished so that she asks the question. That she eventually put faith in God to do the improbable is evident when she didn’t ask more questions like, “where is the throne of David?” 35- “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you”- The angel does not explain the details so that all curiosity is answered, for there is no necessity to do so. He only leads the virgin to contemplate the power of the Holy Spirit and to surrender herself silently and calmly to his guidance. The word “come upon” (epeleusetai) denotes that this would be an extraordinary work, and not just an ordinary natural event. “The power of the Most High shall overshadow you”- The Spirit may be seen as the essential power of God whose energy is shown and exerted in the entire government of the world, as well as in miraculous events. “So the holy one to be born”- Some wrongly say that he was called the Son of God because he was conceived in a remarkable manner by the power of the Holy Spirit. But here “the Holy One to be born” indicates He is the Word of God begotten before the ages that now clothes himself in human flesh. “Son of God” is a title that belongs to the divine essence of Christ from the beginning, but now is applied to both natures. This gives us confidence to risk calling God our Father because his only Son, in order that we may have a Father in common with him, chose to be our brother. 36- “Even Elizabeth, your cousin”- The angel tries to encourage her to believe the miracle by what has already taken place among her own relative. The sixth month is usually after the month when the baby moves (quickening), so there is no doubt about the birth.
37- “For nothing is impossible with God”- The meaning is God will do what he has promised, for nothing can hinder or resist his power (Rom. 4:20,21). There is nothing that possibly stops the word of God. We ought to always contemplate his boundless power, that it may strengthen our hope and confidence. Yet it is useless to argue about what God can do, when God only does what he resolves to do. 2 Timothy 1:12 says, “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded he is able to keep what he has promised.” 38- “I am the Lord’s servant”- The holy virgin does not dispute the angel any further. She restrains her mind so that her faith is not repressed. Boldness in disputing is the mother of unbelief. She gives and devotes herself unreservedly to the Lord. Unbelievers withdraw from his hand and obstruct his work. But faith yields to obedience. Faith gives us up to his power making us obedient, but unbelief makes us rebels and deserters. “May it be to me”- Here she is convinced of God’s power, follows where he calls, trusts in his promise, and not only expects, but eagerly desires its accomplishment.

Thoughts: It is too easy to restrict God to not doing anything unusual. It is too easy to pray and not expect an answer (as Zechariah did). Mary shows a faith that we can learn from- it is the faith of a child- that nothing is impossible with God. Mary believed God could do a miracle if he said he would. To not believe that God can do the unusual is to put God in a box, and make God into our own image- making him an idol. We all have a tendency to do this, and the fight against unbelief is an ongoing one. We do not need to water down the faith-saying we don’t need faith to have faith (we don’t need to believe the unusual or supernatural). To remove the supernatural from God is like removing God’s power from God- so that we are taking God’s teeth out- making him a toothless lion. The conception and virgin birth are not just saying that Jesus is unusual. It is not just the story that is important, it is also the reality behind the story- for is the person of Jesus is not real, and is not sent from God, then he was just another extraordinary teacher. It takes Mary’s faith to believe what happened to Mary. We should have her same attitude that nothing is impossible with God, and also her attitude of submission- may it be to us as you have said.

Prayer: Lord, give me faith that I might believe that nothing is impossible with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment