Monday, December 6, 2010

A Virgin Birth?

You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. Luke 1:31.

Ah! The virgin birth; butt of jokes and derision, and even a sacrilegious excuse for an embarrassing pregnancy. I’m sure Mary suffered the barbs of contempt and scorn for her state; it was hardly a common occurrence. In fact, she would most likely have been an outcast in her community for this seeming infraction of religious mores.

But it’s not as if miraculous births were not a part of Jewish history. Sarah was past childbearing age when she gave Abraham his son Isaac. And for the observant, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was sufficiently “well along in years,” that her husband couldn’t believe she would have a son. She was already six months pregnant at the angel’s announcement to Mary.

Then as now, understanding God’s signs in time and space requires humility and faith. Jesus complained that those who could read signs to forecast weather were blind to the evidence of God’s activity. As I get older it becomes clear to me that belief in God’s involvement in life is a matter of what we want to believe, not necessarily evidence.

It is possible to explain away anything miraculous. In fact, for many, believing the miraculous does not exist is a prerequisite for assessing truth! Mind you, a healthy scepticism is a useful tool to avoid impostors and frauds, but to discard God or His intervention completely seems shortsighted at best and at worst plain ignorant.

Christ, as God, becoming a man is a stroke of genius I would expect of God. His virgin birth conceived by God the Holy Spirit set Him apart as God, and his birth from a woman completed His credentials as fully God and fully human. Only this way was He able, not only to take the punishment for human debt, but also have the authority to acquit the guilty.

The first wonder of this world for me is the virgin birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It assures me a place of release from my sin and guilt. It doesn’t absolve me from the consequences of my sin, for which I must make amends where I can, but reassures me of final acceptance by God, now and for eternity.

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