Monday, December 23, 2013

don't miss the point of the virgin birth

This time of year the virgin birth of Jesus is often discussed, for obvious reasons. I want to offer an observation that I think sometimes gets missed in this conversation. I think the entire reason for the virgin birth is often overlooked. 

I remember Dr. Craigen in my Systematic Theology class speaking often of Jesus “entering the stream of humanity.” In my understanding, the virgin birth is not so much about his sinlessness (though he certainly was) as it is about his eternality. Jesus is the uncreated one. He always was. He was not conceived in the way other humans are. He stepped from heaven into the stream of humanity through the womb of a virgin. The virgin birth teaches, undeniably, the eternality of Jesus Christ. The sinless, eternal one chose to humble himself and step into the womb of a young woman.  

What do we lose if we give up the virgin birth? We effectively sabotage the vehicle that God uses to enter planet earth. If we deny the virgin birth, our understanding of who Jesus is will never be accurate or adequate. If someone finds the virgin birth unbelievable, my guess is they've had issues from Genesis 1 through Matthew. God specializes in impossible (miraculous). Mary understood this. She believed Gabriel. "For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Lk 1.37-38)


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's OK to Cringe

We generally shy away from things that make us uncomfortable. As Christians, we go so far sometimes as to assume that it’s not in the plan of God for our lives to situate us in a place that is uncomfortable. Where did we get this unbiblical notion? 

Entering the final week of his life, Jesus has a perspective that is wholly unique. He knows how and when he will die. The final Passover lamb is making his way to the altar. As he systematically moves through this week, he's in complete control. This week will be full of painful physical suffering, relational hurt as he’s abandoned by his closest friends, family pain as he dies in front of his own mother, and a deep spiritual emptiness as he bore the wrath of God and separation from God on the cross. 

Let’s take a quick walk through John 12.27-28. Jesus looks at his day planner for the week and says, “Now is my soul troubled.” Did you know it’s OK to be deeply troubled? Jesus was. There you go, you have permission to cringe at the pain of life. But Jesus didn’t leave things there. He goes on,  “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?” That would have been tempting, right? Let’s get out of here. I don’t want to do Friday. Friday is going to be hard. Can we go straight to Sunday? Jesus knows agony is coming. He steadies himself through his confidence in the Father, “But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Yes, yes, yes! Can we just try to follow this simple line of thought with Jesus? Life is hard. Life has a purpose. Life is for the glory of God. Sounds like a John Piper sermon, or maybe Piper got those thoughts somewhere, hmmm.