Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.

 

In Focus

The virgin birth

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

I am not sure who is reading this but your anonymity makes you the master of your reactions to what I write. That of course means you can go onto other articles and leave this one and no one will ever know. But as I indicated last week, I wonder if you would accept my invitation to just take a closer look at Jesus Christ. He’s worth a look to see what all the fuss is about.

We are nearing Christmas which is notorious for fuss when it comes to Jesus Christ. So let me begin with His birth. Christmas is a time when some people, like myself, celebrate and worship Him. Some people celebrate without Him and some people are activists for removing Him from Christmas all together. Some people, like myself, worship Him as God while others believe He’s something less than God – a prophet or the stuff of legend or even a fairy tale, like Santa in another guise.  And when we are told of His birth to a virgin you might be tempted to agree. But before you scoff, it’s worth a little research.

You’re anonymous so no one will notice if you listen to me on the virgin birth. The virgin birth is the strangest of all births in the Bible, but it is not the only strange birth in the Bible. Sadly reactions to the idea of a virgin birth are often not made with any reflection on the Biblical history that led up to Jesus’ birth. But that is not surprising because people are notorious for taking things into their own hands without considering what God has done in the past and what God was prepared to do for our future.

All the way through the Old Testament the promises of God seem to be jeopardised by the inability of couples to conceive. And sometimes the babies conceived are then threatened with death, such as what happened to Moses. What is clear is that each time God is required to do something to rescue people, he does it in such a way that there is no mistaking that God is in control. Abraham’s wife was barren and did not fall pregnant until she was ninety-nine. Most ninety-nine year olds I know would consider that a miracle, and it was. God was rescuing a situation that Abraham could not. Then there was Isaac’s wife Rebecca who was barren. Samson’s mother was sterile. Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel was barren and even the elderly Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, was the same. These are a few examples.

Each of these strange births were thought impossible. But they were like sign posts of hope in the Old Testament, pointing to the fact that God never forgets his promises to rescue people for His family. These strange births were reminders that what is impossible for humanity is possible for God.

Of course you can’t get a more impossible or stranger signpost to what God is doing to rescue people than a virgin birth. And on that first Christmas night we are meant to see that the birth of Jesus is the ultimate strange birth over and above all the other strange births in the Bible.

With the noise of human failures in the background we are meant to see that God is bringing into the world His climactic answer to all that robs us of hope. God Himself is going to come among us. We are meant to see that this is a miraculous birth through which God would display His glory and do for us what we could never do for ourselves. In fact they called the miracle “Immanuel” which means, “God with us”. They called Him “Jesus” because he would save his people from their sins. They spelt out in his genealogy that through a history of strange births, Jesus was the descendant of Abraham, in whom God promised to bless all the nations of the world, which includes you and me.

If you are still anonymously reading I will admit that a virgin birth sounds very strange. It is meant to. God intended us to see that in a moment of history God was acting ultimately, climactically, and unmistakably to rescue the world He made and loves. While there is more to be said about the birth of Jesus, I think the virgin birth makes Christmas something worth celebrating.