As we approach Christmas, I understand that some of the things Christians believe sound a little weird to you, but that’s only because they are. I mean think about it: we Christians believe that our leader, Jesus of Nazareth, was born of a virgin and how realistic is that?
Come on, most of us know where babies come from, and, if we’re honest, if an unmarried pregnant woman came to us today claiming that she was a virgin, at the mildest we’d say, “Yeah, right!” But that is exactly what Christians believe about Mary and the birth of Jesus, and so yeah, it sounds weird.
As a matter of fact, it sounds so weird that some modern writers discount it as legend, claiming that Mark and John don’t mention the birth of Christ because of the dubious events surrounding His birth, but Matthew and Luke embellish the events to avoid the embarrassment of what they say “really happened.”
Whether you believe in the virgin birth of Jesus or not, is not the issue. The real issue is what do you believe about Jesus? As incredible as a virgin birth might sound, the facts are that two people who lived in His lifetime claim it to be true.
The first is Matthew, an eyewitness who walked with Jesus, gives this incredible account around 60 A.D. The second is a careful investigative reporter, Dr. Luke, who corroborates Matthew’s account, also around 60 A.D.
Both of these accounts were written within 30 years of the lifetime of the time Jesus, so there is no way they could have been legends. Legends may grow up over centuries, but not over a few short years. Too many people are still around that can set the record straight.
If you read the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you’ll discover that pretty much everyone knew that there were questions surrounding the birth of Jesus, which means that all of us can agree His birth was at least something out of the ordinary.
We who are Christ-followers tend to believe that these early accounts as incredible as they sound make the most sense when you compare them to the life Jesus of Nazareth lived. So if it sounds a little weird to you, try to get by that for the minute and look at Jesus Himself.
The Old Testament prophets believed that the Jewish Messiah was going to be much more than a mere mortal; they believed He would be God in the flesh. How else could Isaiah write that the Messiah’s Kingdom would never end? (See Isaiah 9:6-7).
Now, you may not believe that, but, that’s who the writers of the various ancient manuscripts we call the Scriptures were looking for. And Matthew, Mark, Luke and John identify Jesus as that person.
You may think that’s weird, but here’s the thing: if you study of life of Jesus, how He lived, what He did, what He said, and look at the evidence surrounding the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, it’s weirder to think a mere religious sage did all that than to come to the conclusion of the eyewitnesses and those who have followed Him from the beginning to the present — that Jesus was and is more than a mere mortal religious teacher.
You can doubt the miracles, but you can’t deny that Jesus existed and that there was something so utterly unique about Him that somehow this man who was born in a small insignificant village has managed to influence our entire world today. It would be weird not to think about that.
Let me challenge you to take some time this Christmas season and get away from the tinsel, and lights, and Santa Claus, and consider the baby in the manger. You can find the early accounts in Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-23 & Luke 1 & 2.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington.