“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be borne will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:35-37).
This account from the book of Luke tells us part of the story of Jesus’ birth. How the angel Gabriel came to Mary to announcer the coming of Jesus. While we tend to focus on the incarnation of Jesus, there is one statement that we sometimes miss, or misquote. Gabriel said to Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Gabriel didn’t say all things are possible with God. This is a falsehood. There are certain things that God cannot do. He cannot violate his own nature. He cannot lie. He cannot be surprised. He cannot be tempted. He cannot grow or be added to. By saying that God cannot do certain things, we don’t mean that he chooses not to do them, rather, we mean that he does not have the ability to do them. God does not possess the ability to lie. Yet, there is a twist to this truth, based upon Gabriel’s words to Mary.
Gabriel’s turn of phrase tells us something very important. He said this about the incarnation of Jesus, when God became a man in Christ. Suddenly, certain things God could not do, he became able to do. He could be hungry. He needed shelter. He could perspire and even smell bad. He could be surprised.
Gabriel’s statement didn’t mean that God could do anything. It meant that God was enabling himself to do more than what an omnipotent God was limited to do. Omnipotence? Limited? Yes, you read that right. By limiting himself to the rules of his creation, Jesus was to gain a realm of experience that was not possible while he remained omnipotent.
Now, here’s the kicker: Because these things became possible for him, he is someone we can identify with. We know he understands our troubles by his experience of them. He was no longer a God, “Up there.” He became a God who was right here, for me. And for you.
“He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).
Consider the limitations of God’s character and how he has shared the experience with us of being human. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal more of himself to you so that you might share in his holiness even more.