Summary: Nothing is impossible for God, and sometimes He asks us to do the impossible
Luke 1 December 15, 2002
Nothing is impossible with God. – Luke 1:37
Back, at least 8 years ago Mitchell’s (the Christian bookstore) had a huge sale. They called it their garage sale. They brought out all the damaged books, the books that had been gathering dust in their warehouse, and they sold them at greatly reduced prices. I called a good friend and we made the trek from the West end to their store in the east end. It was a great drive, we told stories, joked with each other, ribbed each other and laughed a lot. When we got to Mitchell’s we met up with another good friend by chance and we started to sift through the books – looking for the gems amongst the rubble. Again we laughed a lot – it is amazing the number of inane books that Christians published – we were constantly howling at the various titles. “84 reasons why Jesus is returning in 1984.” I did find some gems though and the pile of books I was carrying grew higher and higher. When I wasn’t looking my buddy slipped a book on top of my pile as a joke. I did notice the book before I got to the check out, and I quietly slipped it back into the bins. The title: “The Infertile Christian” – typical guy humor. I knew we were going to have a conversation on the way home.
We bought our cheep books, got into the car and started driving, and I said, “You know that book you slipped on to my pile – it probably wasn’t the best choice for humor.” I went on to explain that Pam and I had be trying to have a baby for the better part of a year, and we weren’t successful. Both of us had been to the doctors, and we were talking about what some options might be – we were actually scared that our hopes for children might not be realized. My friend was all apologetic and truly sorry for the joke, and then I told him the worse news – the other friend, they had been trying to have kids since they were married, they had tried every fertility drug, and treatment, they had been tested and examined, and the doctors had no idea why, but they just could not conceive children. They had finally given up hope, and it caused them great pain. My friend was kicking himself really hard now.
Infertile – it’s a harsh word – but not near as harsh as “barren” verse 7 – Elizabeth was barren – the word itself comes with images of desert plains with cracked, sun-scorched soil, or windswept tundra where nothing even thinks of growing. It’s a simple, throwaway phrase – Elizabeth was barren.
You can imagine Elizabeth and Zechariah on their wedding day both so pleased with each other – They would have been considered doubly blessed: Elizabeth has come from the family of a priest, and she is marrying a priest. Zechariah is not just a priest, but, a man of God with a reputation for goodness and grace. Zechariah marrying this beautiful young woman who had a passion for serving God and following him forever. You can imagine the dreams of a houseful of children, of raising the boys to be priests in the footsteps of their father and grandfather, of teaching the simple things to get them through life, of teaching them to pray, telling them the amazing stories of the great works of God. And then months go by, and more months where they is nothing – the family begins to hint jokingly about the need for grand kids, then the jokes start to be more biting than funny. Elizabeth has to endure discussions of the birds and bees from her female relatives, and then from women she hardly knows. Zechariah begins to worry, he begins to wonder why, and he begins to pray, even beg God for a child – just one child. Someone that can share their love, and carry their name.
Although they are “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly, people in the town start to wonder if there may be some deep dark secret that Zechariah and Elizabeth are not telling them – some sin that was so bad that God would remove his blessing from them and not give them children. The women of the town start to distance themselves from Elizabeth, knowing that something must be wrong. She becomes known, not as Elizabeth, but as “the barren one.”
Zechariah go through their whole life together without a child, and now Elizabeth is past the age of child birth even for a healthy woman – if they had not given up hope before, surely they had now.