Monday, December 21, 2015

Facing the Jesus question

Consider the story of the nativity.  A simple and common maiden becomes pregnant, before marriage.  In the ancient culture, it is a wonder she was not stoned to death.  Ancient Israel was not the place to come home to dad, and tell him you are pregnant.  Her husband is yet another simple and common character.  It hardly seems the beginning of the story to come does it?

Bethlehem was nothing in the time of David, and it had changed very little since his life.  Think about this, Bethlehem is a tiny village in the tiny territory of Palestine, within the world power that was the Roman empire.  You would be hard pressed to find a more insignificant place in the world.  

When this young couple arrives in Bethlehem, there is no room for them.  They have to take up lodging in a stable.  They are surrounded by animals.  It had to be a disgusting place to stay the night.  Mary gives birth to a son.  They wrap him up and place him in a manger.  He is placed in a feed trough.  Who is there to celebrate the birth of this child?  Filthy shepherds!  Wise men come from the east after sometime, but the night of his birth, it is only shepherds who celebrate with the young couple.

This child grows to be an adult.  He comes from a rather common family.  It is doubtful that he would have been provided the type of education, that the Apostle Paul was.  He grows up in another insignificant place called Nazareth.  When he is grow, he becomes a wandering preacher.  When he gathers his followers, he selects a bunch of ruffians and social outcasts.  This ministry must appeared destined to failure. 

Instead of failure, this ministry turned the world upside-down.  Christianity spread across the globe, carried by these unlikely heroes of the faith.  We sit 2000 years later, and you would be hard pressed to deny the power of Christianity.

If we are honest, this is not the story we would write for Jesus.  If Jesus is the Son of God, then this whole story seems absolutely ridiculous.  I suppose it is the absurdity of the tale, that makes it so believable to me.  Honestly, if you were to write the story yourself, then wouldn't write it to be a little more spectacular?  It is the Son of God we are talking about.  

As simple as this story is, if would not be suprising if this story ended in the obscurity in which it started, but it doesn't.  This story lit the world on fire.  This simple story would go on to change the face of the world, and the nature of human religion for ages to come.  With the conversion of Constantine, Christianity displaced the myriad of gods in Roman culture.  This story went on to displaced the myriad of gods throughout northern Europe.  All of this seems so unlikely to me.  From the simple begining of this story, how could all of this have been accomplished?  When I look at the epic world changes caused by this simple peasant boy, I am left with only one answer.  He must be all that he said he was.  Were he merely a human child, then his story could have never have change the world in the manner that it has.  I am left like the Roman guard at the crucifixion, who said, "truly this is the Son of God".  I can find no other answer that will satisfy the mere confines of human logic.  Any other suggestion is merely ridiculous.  How will you face the Jesus question?  

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