“The Birth of Jesus”
2. Why did Mary go”with haste”to visit Elizabeth?
At that time I believe that Mary had just been engaged but not married to Joseph yet. The time frame was really close to the appearance of the angel to Mary and Joseph. Mary was already pregnant at the time. Probably Mary went to see Elizabeth to talk about her situation. But in a deeper sense the meeting with Elizabeth was to encourage Mary’s faith, she was given the sign that her kinswoman, Elizabeth, was also the object of God’s grace in the gift of a miraculously conceived son (Layman 28).
Mary’s complete question was: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”Her question implies two things. The first a simple how, she is asking how could she have had a child when she knows no man before.
The second implication of her question was deeper and contains more complication.
The announcement made to her could well have had frightful social consequences. In Jewish custom of that day, an engagement was as binding as a marriage. To be God’s servant, Mary had to expose herself to Josephs misunderstanding, to the possible loss of her reputation and the curse of being a sinful woman and to possible death by stoning (Balmer, 29).
The problem was that the angel said that she would have a child, and at that time she was not married to Joseph yet. This would lead to misunderstandings by the society that she was unfaithful. What happened to her is something that cannot be explained in human understanding. And no one would believe her.
Mary however surrendered to God. In Luke 1:38 she said “I am the Lord’s servant”. This statement was a full surrender to God’s will even though there can be many misunderstandings and even possible persecution.
The women in Matthew’s genealogy were: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth.
Each of these women either had kept the covenant or had entered into the covenant by an act of faith. Their names remind us also that the covenant is a covenant of grace. They’re not moral saints but forgiven sinners (Balmer 171).
Furthermore the angel made obvious reverence to the gracious act of the gift of a son to Sarah; this was not only to encourage Mary’s faith but to indicate that her child was to be the final fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham, that by him “all the families of the earth will be blessed”(Gen 12:3). Jesus is the culmination of all that God has been doing since the days of Abraham (Layman).
N.T. Wright says: “One can be justified by faith with no knowledge of it.”
“The God of the bible is not a normally absent God who sometimes intervenes. This God is always present and active, often surprisingly so.” Likewise if one believes that the bible is true, then the story of the birth is true (Wright).
Wright’s argument develops in three stages:
o If the evangelist believed them to be true, when and by whom were they invented? Why two different but compatible stories were in circulation
While Marcus Borg started by saying: “They are not history remembered but
3. The two different worshippers, shepherds versus the wise men.
Many more came after that. Borg’s assumption is that the birth stories affirm the
Lordship of Christ. But all these stories are merely metaphorical to distinguish Jesus from the rest of the humanity.
Personally I found both writers to be extremely persuasive and conceptual with their argument. Wright is trying to make people see in a way of questioning why would Matthew and Luke make up such a ‘ridiculous’ concept if it were not true at all. And if these were not true at all how could the two stories support each other. On the other hand Borg is arguing by elaborating Matthew and Luke’s “historical and data errors”.
However I favor Wright’s ideas. I cannot say that Borg’s argument is weak. Both arguments are well supported and have clear concepts and logics. But in my opinion as one believes the bible, one would also believe that what it says is true. I am not someone who believes totally in the inerrancy of the bible; I believe that God inspires the bible. But if the virgin birth is untrue, how could God who inspires the bible let such a misguided and irresponsible concept to be part of the bible. If the virgin birth is a metaphorical story just to emphasize Jesus’ difference than normal humans, then we might as well call it a myth.
Personally I believe in the bible as a whole package. Some people call it a “blind faith”. I think why should I struggle so many human logics with human and biological understanding to explain spiritual happenings.
For this argument I raise a question, if this would mark him off the rest of us, then how different would Adam be? Adam was created out of nothing from dust, and we are Adams descendants, so it can imply that we’re not as human as we thought we are. If someone believes in the creation of Adam and Eve by God’s hands, then it should be fairly easy in accepting the virgin birth concept. As I quote: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I am not trying to hit anyone with the verse, I respect logical arguments and questions against biblical incidents and I do not close myself to the possible truth of those arguments. This is what I believe but only God knows the truth.
Therefore personally I believe the virgin birth is very important to some extend of my own understanding and thoughts. But I cannot say that it is the only truth that can be. This case can be a never-ending quest for truth until God himself reveals it to us. And I am excited to learn more and more about this thing through studies like this.
3. Borg/Wright, The Meaning of Jesus.