We tend to think we would be immune from disbelief that Jesus was born of a virgin if the event were to happen today. The insulation of time, distance, and geography can become an intellectual and spiritual form of Novocain numbing us to an honest inquiry and questioning about what we believe. Some of the most important truths about Jesus are the hardest to process with minds linked only to the sights, sounds, and science of the natural world.
A virgin giving birth without the involvement of her husband, God becoming a man, Jesus being raised from the dead, and supernatural signs, wonders, and miracles is the stuff of fairytales to a mind not operating in faith. Without these things, we don’t have the Jesus of Scripture. Anything less is just another god of human invention who sits upon a mantle or is placed in a garden as a religious ornament offering only a lifeless stare, unable to offer hope.
Each Christmas, I try to mentally travel back in time and put myself in the place of Mary and Joseph and the family and community members who first heard the absurd news of a virgin giving birth to the Son of God. Without a contextual struggle and a gritty challenge of our faith to overcome disbelief, we only have a list of items on a doctrinal statement we are asked to sign without obtaining personal ownership – ownership only gained in a struggle with disbelief. All truth must have this struggle for comprehension, or it is not worth believing. Things that fit neatly in a tidy place of our understanding that doesn’t require God to show up and make it happen is simply religious form without substance.
When a man brought his child to Jesus to cast out the demons who were afflicting his son, the father cried out, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). It was only in an encounter with Jesus and experiencing His power over darkness that the man finally believe the impossible. We are all that father in some ways. We can’t imagine or believe the impossible is possible until we have a personal encounter with Jesus.