On one occasion a rich young man had come to him, asking what most ministers would consider a marvelous question. He said, "Good Master, how can I achieve eternal life?" We would have said, if we had been in Jesus’ position, "Well, here is a heart that has certainly been prepared by God." But Jesus, who knew what was in the heart of man and knew how hard the heart is, began to probe a little bit to perceive the depth of his understanding and the nature in which the question was being asked. He discovered that the man, although he had lived a very good life and had done a lot of very good things, nevertheless, was so consumed by his wealth - and he had a great deal - that he was unable to follow Jesus.

The third great impossibility brought about through the birth of Jesus was the salvation of sinners. I don’t know whether Mary specifically had this in her mind when the angel appeared to her and announced the birth of Christ. Very little is said here that would indicate what Mary was thinking, but she may well have been, because just a few verses further on, in that great psalm of praise known as the Magsnificat,

The annunciation of Jesus’ birth is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. It tells us of the humble maiden kneeling before the angel of God unburdening himself of the message for which the Jews had been waiting for many long centuries. Mary’s puzzled question, "How can this be?" met the angel’s explanation, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called ‘the Son of God.’ " This is one of the most touching stories in the Gospel, and it is one to be read with a profound mixture of wonder, gratitude, and praise.

In the third place Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Now that is a little bit beyond mere amazement. You can be amazed at something that doesn’t have a whole lot of content. It doesn’t go much further than that. But it did go further than that with Mary. Mary heard these things and she knew what the angel had told her. She also knew what the shepherds had told her. A little later the wise men came with their story. She took all these things and she mulled them over in her heart, and thought about them and pondered them. And that is a great way to celebrate Christmas - to meditate upon these things, asking yourself in the sight of God what they mean and what they mean for you personally.

People might think, "Oh, if the angels came to earth to speak to anybody, it ought to have been to Caesar, or it ought to have been to Quirinius, or perhaps it ought to have been to the Jewish authorities, the priests." No, that is not what God did. God gave this glorious announcement to these men who were out in the fields with their sheep. The experience that they had was not even shared by the parents of the child. It is true that an angel had appeared to Joseph to tell him how to name the child. And the angel had appeared to Mary with the annunciation. But they didn’t hear the angels sing. They didn’t hear that great announcement: "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord."