Chapter 1

Two Women Who Celebrate Before Christmas

“…nothing is impossible with God.”

Luke 1:37 NLT

As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to make an angel mad. But he did just that. And, honestly, it was so unlike him. The Bible describes this faithful old priest as “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”

So what went wrong?

It seems the old man had his heart set on having a child before he died. He prayed earnestly to God year after year. Then, suddenly, an angel appears to him in the temple and says, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.”

The angel says his old, barren wife will give birth to a son and to name him John. “And he will…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

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

It gets worse. This was not your run-of-the-mill heavenly host.

“I am Gabriel,” the angel announces. I can see him arching to his full height, spreading his massive wings as far as they will go. “I stand in the presence of God.”

Oooooh. See what I mean?

Can’t you hear the words echoing off the gold and marble of the temple? This old priest needed to know with whom he was 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, and six months later he is given the highest honor in heaven: Gabriel is sent with a message for a virgin. And what were her final words to him?

Mary says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

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

Not so.

Immediately, she hurries into the hill country to an old woman. When Mary steps inside her home, the woman shouts, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

This is Mary’s beloved cousin, Elizabeth. Obviously Elizabeth knows Mary is carrying the Messiah. The old woman’s words burst forth, coming from the Holy Spirit. “And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

These two women are similarly situated: one too old to give birth yet six months pregnant, the other a virgin, yet also with child. The impossible made possible.

Mary will stay with her cousins, Elizabeth and, yes, old Zechariah, until their child arrives. Six months later Jesus will be born.

Many believe this was a fearful time for Mary.

Not so.

The Biblical accounts of those months don’t say this. On the contrary, Luke paints a vivid picture of Mary celebrating. He writes of her singing, “My soul exalts the Lord…the Mighty One has done great things for me…”

And why not celebrate?

Both women know the prophecies, hundreds of years old:

“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, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Both Mary and Elizabeth now know who, when, and where—it’s an exciting time! Can’t you see the two cooking and singing, dancing and praising God, chatting joyously?

And then there is poor old Zechariah, who 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.”[1]

[1] The quotations were taken from the following translations: Luke 1:19 (ESV), Luke 1:20 (ESV), Luke 1:38 (NAS), Luke 1:19 (ESV), Luke 1:42 (NIV), Luke 1:38 (ESV), Luke 1:47,49 (NASB), Isaiah 40:3 (ESV), Isaiah 7:14 (NASB), Luke 1:37 (NLT), respectively.