December 20th, 2020
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“God of the Impossible”
I want to start with something funny. I heard about this man. He was driving through an intersection. There was a traffic camera. When you run the over the lines or if you break the rules in anyway, it takes you a picture, and then you receive a ticket in the mail. When he was out and driving through the intersection exit, he noticed that the camera flashed and took a picture of him. He thought that it was not right. He turned around and drove through it again, even more slowly. Once again, it took a picture. He thought, ‘this thing is messed up. They might not give me tickets.’ He drove through three more times. Each time he waved his hand to the camera with a big smile. A week later, he received five tickets in the mail for ‘not wearing a seat belt.’
When I heard about this man, I thought, we are locked up in the box of our own beliefs. Sometimes we are under an illusion that the things we know are true. However, there is some truth in our thoughts. In the Scripture Isaiah, The Lord says, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). We are still immature, who have to learn and grow in faith daily life.
Today, I want to talk about “the God of the impossible.” We, Christians, believe in a God who is big enough to deal with our most pressing personal problems. God is big enough to deal with our most pressing national problems and the problems of our world. Our Creator and Redeemer is the God of the impossible. It is the reality that God is the Living God. God is not only in the book of the Bible. When you believe in the living God, you may experience God’s miraculous work in your life.
When I was a doctoral student in a Ph. D program, I had an opportunity to teach seminarians. One day after a class, one of the seminarians came to me and said, “I am struggling to believe the Virgin birth. I can believe everything else in the Scripture, but I don’t believe that.” So, I asked him, “Can you believe that God created everything as The Scripture Genesis says?” He said, “Yes, I can believe that God created everything as the Scripture Genesis says.” I asked him again, “how could it happen? How could God create everything?” He answered me, “I believe that because of God, God can create everything from nothing.” I said, “Okay, so, do you think everything God created does not include human beings?” He said, “I think it includes human beings. I learned that God created humans in the image of God.” I asked him, “So, who does the work for human birth? In other words, who is the owner of our life?” He did not answer me, but I saw that he seemed to struggle with an answer to my question. I would say, to understand is different than believing. We cannot understand God’s work, but we can believe in God. However, do not doubt your faith to be true.
Jesus asked Martha, who was in grieving the loss, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though the one dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha answered him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11:25-27). However, when Jesus tried to open her brother’s tomb, she said, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (John 11:39). As did Martha, we sometimes make faith separate from what is real. She confessed Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, but she questioned what he was doing. Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).
Remember when Jesus heals the sick and the weak, he used to say, “Your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34, Luke 17:19, Matthew 9:22). Jesus did not say, “I healed you.” But he said, “Your faith has healed you,” or “Your faith made you well.” That is the reality we have to believe. Do not separate your faith from reality. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrew 11:1). Our confession that we are saved in faith through Jesus Christ by the grace of God has to be true.
Our God is the God who makes the impossible possible. Do not think your God to be small. Our God can make the impossible possible. Do not put God into the book of your Bible. God is the Living God, moving around us, in us and among us, and still working for us. For God, nothing is impossible. For the one who believes in God, also nothing is impossible. Do not question God, but question your faith. And then pray for God’s grace on your faith. Again, we are saved in faith through Jesus Christ by the Grace of God. Without God’s grace, without Jesus’ love, there is no faith.
We all are ordinary human beings. Of course, our faith is also ordinary, but God is extraordinary. God chose ordinary people, and extraordinarily worked with them. Our faith may grow in risk and suspicion. In the first century, the sick or the weak were treated like sinners in society. They could not come out in public places. Even though they heard that Jesus may heal them, they need the courage to come to Jesus no matter what. They could have been stoned to death by people. However, their faith was in Jesus. Jesus knew that they came to him with deadly courage, and he said, “Your faith has healed you.”
When God chose Moses as the leader of the Israelites, Moses questioned this, ‘how he could be the leader,’ saying to God, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Then God said to him, “who gives a speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? So, now go, I will be with you” (Genesis 4:10-11). Faith does not mean “we can do everything God asks,” but it means that “we can do everything if God is with us.” It is like the Apostle Paul’s confession, “I can do everything through Jesus Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Yes, faith, in other words, is our confession that we are weak, but the Lord with me is strong enough. Faith is our confession that God is the Lord in heaven and earth. Therefore, faith is out of our ability, but only by God’s grace.
In today’s Scripture, the Virgin Mary was an ordinary woman like us. She was educated about God and the Messiah like us, Christians. The angel Gabriel said to her, “Mary, you have found favor with God. And you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Mary also thought of human things before the angel, saying, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel explained simply that through God “your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
What Sarah had conceived when Abraham’s age was 100, what Elizabeth had conceived in her barren body, and what the Virgin Mary had conceived are simple to God, but for us, all are miracles. Elizabeth’s son is John the Baptist, we know. God chooses ordinary people and works in miraculous ways. You know, the author of the Gospel of Luke was a medical doctor, who knew about human birth very well, and he was the only person who wrote the virgin birth stories of Mary in detail. Do not question that the medical doctor approved in faith already.
When God chose Mary to bear God’s own son, she might have been scared thinking about God’s grace and her society’s reality. She knew that through God nothing is impossible. On the other hand, she knew society would treat her as a sinner. Joseph, her fiancé might leave her, and she might be stoned. She had to make a deadly decision. She had to have the courage to receive God’s grace. Finally, she had a choice. She responded as though she had made a decision: “Let it be with me according to your word.” The point is that God never forces His love or His will on anyone. The implication here is that the angel was announcing God’s plan and purpose to Mary, and it would not be carried out without her consent. She would suffer the ridicule and contempt of being pregnant and unmarried in a small town full of gossips. She would be dumped, and stoned. Knowing all this, she said, “Let it be with me according to your word.” She was at the risk of God’s grace, but had courage. Today, we may need the courage to grow in faith, “Here I am, Lord. Let it be with me.” Let us grow in faith, not questioning God. If there is anyone who is waiting for God’s miracle, please confess to God, “Here I am, Lord, let it be done with me according to your word.” Our God is the God who makes the impossible possible. Thanks be to God. Amen.