Based on Luke 1:26-38
We are so familiar with the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, that it can sometimes fail to impress us. If you can, consider this account from the perspective of one who has never heard it and is not a Christian. An angel comes to earth to bring a message from God — not to a king or ruler, but to a humble virgin. The promise is that she would conceive a child outside the normal biological processes which God Himself created — the child’s birth would be supernatural. The angel proclaims that this child would be the Son of God, to take the throne of David and reign eternally. No wonder Mary was greatly troubled and afraid. And yet, the angel says, “Do not be afraid, Mary…” It was all so inconceivable. It was unbelievable! When the angel visited Joseph, it was in a dream — it seems Mary was wide awake. Maybe she wished she would awake and find it was only a nightmare. How could this be possible?
The angel Gabriel said, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Consider the words of Gabriel:
Nothing — will be — impossible — with God.
What seems impossible in your life, at this moment? Raising difficult children? Caring for infirmed parents? Finding a new job? Suffering through cancer treatments? Surviving serious illness? Enduring a military deployment? Healing a broken relationship? We have many challenges and struggles in life that seem impossible and insurmountable. The Good News in the account of Mary is that with God, nothing is impossible. We can be healed, we can be forgiven, we can begin again, and yes, we will be raised from death to new life in Christ. Nothing will be impossible with God.
Prayer: Almighty and life-giving God, do the impossible and unexpected in my life, in the name and by the power and presence of Jesus, amen.
Lenten response: Send a card, email or text to someone you know who is facing challenges. Write, “For nothing will be impossible with God!”
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2:1 Beware wicked schemers,
those who devise calamity as they lie in bed.
As soon as morning dawns they carry out their plans,
because they have the power to do so.
2They confiscate the fields they desire,
and seize the houses they want.
They defraud people of their homes,
and deprive people of the land they have inherited.
3Therefore the Lord says this: “Look, I am devising disaster for this nation!
It will be like a yoke from which you cannot free your neck.
You will no longer walk proudly,
for it will be a time of catastrophe.
4In that day people will sing this taunt song to you –
they will mock you with this lament:
‘We are completely destroyed;
they sell off the property of my people.
How they remove it from me!
They assign our fields to the conqueror.’
5Therefore no one will assign you land in the Lord’s community.(NET Bible)
59:1 For the music director; according to the al-tashcheth style; a prayer of David, written when Saul sent men to surround his house and murder him.
Deliver me from my enemies, my God!
Protect me from those who attack me!
2Deliver me from evildoers!
Rescue me from violent men!
3For look, they wait to ambush me;
powerful men stalk me,
but not because I have rebelled or sinned, O Lord.
4Though I have done nothing wrong, they are anxious to attack.
Spring into action and help me! Take notice of me!
5You, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel,
rouse yourself and punish all the nations!
Have no mercy on any treacherous evildoers! (Selah)
6They return in the evening;
they growl like a dog
and prowl around outside the city.
7Look, they hurl insults at me
and openly threaten to kill me,
for they say,
8But you, O Lord, laugh in disgust at them;
you taunt all the nations.
9You are my source of strength! I will wait for you!
For God is my refuge.
10The God who loves me will help me;
God will enable me to triumph over my enemies.
11Do not strike them dead suddenly,
because then my people might forget the lesson.
Use your power to make them homeless vagabonds and then bring them down,
O Lord who shields us!
12They speak sinful words.
So let them be trapped by their own pride
and by the curses and lies they speak!
13Angrily wipe them out! Wipe them out so they vanish!
Let them know that God rules
in Jacob and to the ends of the earth! (Selah)
14They return in the evening;
they growl like a dog
and prowl around outside the city.
15They wander around looking for something to eat;
they refuse to sleep until they are full.
16As for me, I will sing about your strength;
I will praise your loyal love in the morning.
For you are my refuge
and my place of shelter when I face trouble.
17You are my source of strength! I will sing praises to you!
For God is my refuge, the God who loves me.(NET Bible)
1:26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. 30So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! 31Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.
36 “And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
Luther again speaks of the infallibility of Scripture in Contra malignum J. Eckii judicium M. Lutheri Defensio, which left the press on September 30, 1519. In the preface he refers to the statement of Augustine, “I have learned to ascribe this honor (namely the infallibility) only to books which are termed canonical, so that I confidently believe that not one of their authors erred,” and continues, “but the other authors, no matter how distinguished by great sanctity and teaching, I read in this way, that I do not regard them as true because they themselves judged in this wise but in so far as they could convince me through the authority of the canonical writings or other clear deductions.” (17)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.