Theme: Questions about Christ’s Birth
In this week’s Christmas lessons, we reflect on the wonder of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of God’s great love for lost and helpless sinners.
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
“Isn’t it absurd?” I acknowledge that is the kind of question preachers are not supposed to ask. Preachers aren’t even supposed to suggest that anything having to do with the Christmas story, or anything else from the Word of God, for that matter, might be absurd. But I think that was something of the question that was in Mary’s mind, although she didn’t ask it in an unbelieving way.
When the angel appeared to her to say that she would conceive and give birth to a son and that her conception would be apart from a male agent, that the baby would have no human father, she asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin.” I say, that was a believing question. She was not doubting what the angel said, but she was perplexed over how something like that could come about.
It’s worth looking at the entire life of Christ from that perspective of believing while still asking how some things can be. Of course, you have the birth first of all. Even apart from the virgin birth, which is an extraordinary thing in itself, the birth of Christ is the birth of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is both man and God, as the creeds of the church have come to describe it. How can that be?
Isn’t it an absurd thing to think that the infinite and exalted God of the universe, a God we cannot even see, should make himself a man, who we not only can see, but touch and as we well know, eventually crucify? It was the height of absurdity for Greeks to think that God, who exists in a non-material way, could take on human flesh and then be killed. That kind of a message was foolishness to Greeks, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1.
Isn’t it absurd that having become incarnate, this God-man should be born in a stable? Why, there’s hardly anything more absurd than that. If this is God, you would expect the most exulted birth of all. It is true that the angels were singing in the sky, but the angels were only heard by shepherds as far as we know. Isn’t this the sort of thing that would have required an angel to go throughout every town and hamlet, proclaiming the birth of the king?
In past periods of history, when a son was born to the king, since he was the heir to sit upon the throne, heralds went throughout the realm to proclaim it. So here is God becoming human flesh and it is virtually unnoticed. He is born in a small town to a couple who had no status, and didn’t even have a place to stay that night, the inn being full. They had to spend the evening in a stable when the Christ child was born.
Then, consider the virgin birth itself. Mary was disturbed by it. Others have been disturbed by it since. Isn’t it absurd to think that the birth of the Son of God would happen by means of a virginal conception? How can there be such a thing? We know enough biology to know that to have a conception, you have to have male sperm and a female egg. Without it, you do not have a life. How can it be that this egg in the womb of Mary suddenly began to grow with no male involvement? That is just utterly absurd. It goes against all the laws of nature as we know them.
Why would the birth of Christ be thought absurd by Greeks?
Why does the location of Jesus’ birth seem absurd?
How can the question “Isn’t it absurd?” be asked in different ways when wondering about something we read in the Bible?
Reflection: During this Christmas season, have you observed any evidences of unbelievers expressing the world’s idea of the absurdity of Christianity?
For Further Study: To look deeper into the angel’s appearance to Mary, and of Mary’s song during her visit to Elizabeth, download and listen for free to two messages from Philip Ryken, “The Annunciation” and “Magnificat.” (Discounts will be applied at checkout.)