Christianity 201

December 19, 2011

You Can’t Dissect a Miracle

Today’s post is from David Kenney where it appeared today at his blog under the title The Mechanics of a Miracle.

“Just ’cause you understand the mechanics of how something works, doesn’t make it any less of a miracle…”

That was said by a man named Bill Compton. Bill is a civil war veteran, he’s fictional… and he’s a vampire. Yes, he’s actually a character on HBO’s True Blood (no, I have never watched the show, but I heard the quote today and liked it.)

But that quote above made me think a little more about the virgin birth. That’s what we should all be thinking about this week, right?

Matthew 1:18 (CEB) says,

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Now, if you want to get “hung up” on the etymology of the virgin birth, go right ahead, but the bible says that Mary became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That’s a miracle, right?

A woman who had never had sex… became pregnant just through the power of God.

And the sad thing is, us theologians who claim to understand the “mechanics” of scripture, we “break it all down” into digestible chunks. The bible becomes a system of words and things we “understand.” And from those understandings we develop “doctrine.”

So here is my question…

Do you really want to turn the virgin birth into doctrine? Do you really want to turn the miracle of Christmas into mechanics?

In Luke 1:34 (CEB) Mary asks the angel about the mechanics…

Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”

and what does the Angel tell her in verse 35?

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son.”

Does that explanation help? How did it happen?

Answer: it was a miracle.

Think about it this way, whenever a human being is born, someone “new” is created; and we call that a miracle. But when Jesus was born, that baby wasn’t new… but was the oldest living being. A being who had already previously existed before, was born.

And we think we can “fathom” or “understand” the mechanics of that miracle?

The virgin birth is also confirmed by the testimony of Jesus.

John 10:27-30 (CEB)

“My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Jesus gives testimony that he and God are equals. At this the teachers of his day pick up rocks to stone him. Jesus says, I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of those works do you stone me?”

The Jewish opposition answered, “We don’t stone you for a good work but for insulting God. You are human yet you make yourself out to be God.”

Ironically there are many today who wish to make Jesus a “human” again.

Jesus replies, “So how can you say that the one whom the Father has made holy and sent into the world insults God because he said, I am God’s Son?”

Jesus never said he was Joseph’s or Mary’s son. He never called himself a carpenter. No, when Jesus talked about himself, he said his home was in heaven and his Father was the author of the scriptures.

How can you or I claim to understand the mechanics of that? Even the people of Jesus’ day who knew him, lived side by side with him didn’t understand it, his own family didn’t even understand it (Mark 3:21) so how can we say that we do?

We’ve heard the Christmas story a million times, told a million ways from a million pastors – so I am sure the miracle can lose it’s luster, but let’s try to keep it in perspective….

When Jesus slept out under the stars on Christmas morning, he was looking up at a night sky that He made.

The one who calls himself the “ancient of days” was only hours old.

Let us not forget the miracle of Christmas!

* scripture taken from The Common English Bible

~David Kenney

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