Remember that nothing is impossible for God

Published 10:33 pm Friday, December 3, 2021

As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to make an angel mad. But he did just that.

Honestly, it was so unlike him. Scripture describes this old priest as “righteous.” So what went wrong?

It seems the man had his heart set on having a child. He earnestly prayed for this year after year. And then suddenly an angel appears to Zechariah, saying, “Your prayer has been heard.” The priest’s barren wife will give birth to a son. “Give him the name John,” the angel continues.

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That’s where the trouble starts—the holy man didn’t believe the angel.

It gets worse. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill heavenly host.

“I am Gabriel,” the angel announces. Can’t you see him arching to his full height, spreading his massive wings as far as they’ll go.

“I stand in the presence of God.”

Oooooh. Now do you understand?

Can’t you hear those words echoing off the gold and marble of the temple. This old priest is in big trouble—he needs to know with whom he’s dealing.

And here it comes.

“Behold, you will be silent,” Gabriel announces. “Unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words…”

Gabriel leaves. Six months later, Gabriel is given the highest honor in heaven. He’s sent with a message to a virgin. Mary is told that she will give birth by the Holy Spirit.

And her final response? “I am the servant of the Lord,” Mary says. “Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:5-38

Many think when Mary learns she will give birth that she keeps quiet, only telling Joseph to whom she’s engaged.

Not so. Scripture is clear on this.

“In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah.” Where’s she going?

  1. To see the priest, Zechariah;
  2. To stay with her cousins;
  3. To the home of an old woman called Elizabeth; or
  4. All of the above.

Look closely and lock in your answer.

The verse continues, “…[Mary] entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” These were her cousins; the answer is #4.

When she steps inside that home, Elizabeth shouts, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

Obviously, Elizabeth knows Mary is with child. The old woman’s words continue to burst forth, coming from the Holy Spirit. “Why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Well, here’s why.

These two women are similarly situated. Do you see how?

This is beautiful.

One is too old to give birth, yet six months pregnant. The other is a virgin, yet also with child. The impossible made possible.

Mary stays with her cousins, Elizabeth and Zechariah the priest, until John is born. Their baby will become John the Baptist. Luke 1:39-45

Six months after John’s birth—Jesus is born.

Many think this was a fearful time for Mary. You will hear sermon after sermon this holiday season describing her as distraught.

Not so. The Biblical account of those months doesn’t say this.

On the contrary, Luke paints a vivid picture of Mary celebrating. He writes of her singing, “My spirit rejoices…He who is mighty has done great things for me…” Luke 1:46ff.

And why not celebrate?

Both women would have known the prophecies concerning John the Baptist and the Messiah. Seven hundred years earlier, Isaiah spoke these words from God:

“A voice cries, ‘In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” Isaiah 40:3

“Behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Mary and Elizabeth now know exactly when and where those famous prophecies will be fulfilled—what an exciting time!

Can’t you see the two cooking and singing, dancing and praising God, chatting joyously?

And then there’s poor Zechariah—he can’t utter a peep because he did not trust God.

Don’t make that same mistake. Believe! When you earnestly pray, believe!

Listen to the final words Gabriel speaks to Mary. Memorize them.

“Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37


The Rev. Mathews (BA, MDiv, JD) is a seminary graduate and faith columnist. Contact her at


Copyright © 2016-2021 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from “Reaching to God.”