In both Matthew 1:18-23 and Luke 1:26-28 the authors of these Gospels (Matthew one of the Twelve Disciples and Luke, a physician and traveling companion of Paul) wrote about the prophecies being fulfilled in the Old Testament that Jesus would be born to a young virgin. (Isaiah 7:10, 14; 9:6-7 for example.) Even though the majority of the Israelites (Jews) of that day and time had been brought up to believe in the prophecies surrounding the Messiah’s birth, when faced with the reality of His arrival they scoffed. They didn’t believe. They mocked the very things that the Scriptures that were given to them by God revealed and foretold.
A child born to a virgin? Biologically impossible. Even then where babies come from was understood and it took a male and a female to create a child. DESPITE what scriptures foretold, when it happened, few believed.
Who did believe?
Mary, the mother of Christ, the young virgin overcome by the Holy Spirit and in whose womb the Messiah grew. She didn’t understand it. But she accepted it. Probably Mary didn’t ever completely understand what her son being the Savior of the world meant until she watched Him ascend into Heaven, she believed. She was there when He came into the world, there when He died, there after He rose from the dead and there when He returned to Heaven. Mary believed.
Joseph, the man Mary was pledged to be married to, also believed. An angel had to appear to him in a dream not long after Mary revealed her pregnancy to him, but nonetheless Joseph believed. Joseph believed and he took his role as Jesus’ earthly father seriously. He took his role as Jesus’ earthly defender seriously too and obeyed without hesitation to flee when warned of Herod wanting to hurt Jesus or when potential danger arose.
Elizabeth, Mary’s older cousin believed when the baby John the Baptist leapt in her womb when Mary visited shortly after becoming pregnant. Nothing is known of Elizabeth once John was born but we know she believed Mary’s child within her was the baby of the I Am.
John the Baptist, as he would be known, believed from within his mother’s womb and he leapt in the presence of Jesus who was in Mary’s womb.
Initially this summed up all those who believed from the beginning (or close to the beginning) that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Jewish race. Immediately after Jesus birth we can add to the list the shepherds who were told of Jesus’ birth by angels and who went into Bethlehem to see Him for themselves. (Luke 2:8-20) Eight days after Jesus’ birth, Simeon, a devout and righteous man who had been promised by God he would not die before seeing the promised Messiah and Anna, a prophetess who lived at the temple believed when they saw Jesus with Mary and Joseph at the temple. (Luke 2:25-38) Within two to three years of Jesus’ birth, the Wise Men who followed the star that appeared in the Heavens on the night of Jesus’ birth, believed, and they came to worship the King of Kings. (Matthew 2:1-12)
That’s not a whole lot of people. Between ten and fifteen perhaps as we don’t know how many shepherds there were. (The scriptures say shepherds, plural, more than one so I put the guess to be between two and seven.)
In Israel and across the world wherever there are Jewish people who still adhere to the Old Testament laws for living (although money has replaced the blood sacrifices) people are still waiting for the Messiah. Still waiting for who has already come and is coming again to fulfill the remaining prophecies concerning Him.
Would you believe?
If your next door neighbor’s daughter, a young girl who is a member of one of the most devout Jewish families you have ever known became pregnant and said it was God’s child within her, that she was still a virgin, would you believe her? (Provided of course you didn’t know that the Messiah had already come 2000 plus years ago.) Would it not be so far-fetched you’d shake your head and say, “What a whopper she’s telling? What kind of ego trip is she on? Mary, pregnant and a virgin? Mary, pregnant with God’s child? If you believe that I’ve got several hundred acres of ocean front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.”
Would you believe?
It is easy, in hindsight, to say we’d be adding to the numbers that believed Jesus was the promised Messiah back when He made His appearance. Back when His mother and earthly father were telling people the child within her was the literal Child of God. But reality is, if we had been forced to wait until this day and time for Jesus to come the first time to earth, it is unlikely we’d believe. In fact, we’d probably scoff and say Mary had visited a fertility clinic or that Jesus was a test tube baby.
Would you believe?
Only if you already believed. Only if when the prophecies were preached about in church you believed they would be fulfilled, literally, would you believe when they were fulfilled. Only if the God of your heart told you what Mary and Joseph were saying was true.
You can’t believe in anything if you don’t believe it’s possible to begin with. So many of us are part of a population of unbelievers. People who don’t believe in the virgin birth, don’t believe Jesus’ is the Son of God, don’t believe Jesus died on Calvary and rose in three days, don’t believe He ascended into Heaven and don’t believe He’s coming back again. We also don’t believe God is real, alive or that He wants to be part of our lives, to have a relationship with us. Why don’t we believe? We don’t believe because we don’t believe it’s possible.
Even among those who claim Christianity to be their lifeline, we don’t always demonstrate BELIEF.
This Christmas, let’s show the world and ourselves we do believe. Not in Santa Claus, not in good works, not in buying our way into someone or some church’s good graces but that we believe in Jesus Christ.