27 December 2012

The Reality of Jesus' Divine Birth and of His Glorious Return

In the popular film Miracle on 34th Street, the central figure, Kris Kringle, is taken to court over his claim to be the real Santa Claus. At stake is the faith of a child who wants to believe in Santa but is caught in a tug-of-war with her hardheaded mother (who is convinced that she should outgrow such fantasies). In the real world, tragically, the controversy between faith and skepticism is fought upon much more serious ground: one need look no further than the latest holiday headlines to know something of the erosion of faith in Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God—even among church attenders. In His own time, Jesus was crucified because some said He blasphemed in claiming to be a God; in our time, He is vilified by those who claim Him to be only a man. It is one thing to question the Miracle on 34th Street; and wholly another to lose hope in the Miracles of Calvary, Gethsemane, and Bethlehem. The Christian writer Malcolm Muggeridge asks a poignant question, “Would something like the miracle of Bethlehem even be allowed to happen in our day?”:
In humanistic times like ours, a contemporary virgin … would regard a message from the Angel Gabriel that she might expect to give birth to a son to be called the Son of the Highest as ill-tidings of great sorrow … It is, in point of fact, extremely improbable, under existing conditions, that Jesus would have been permitted to be born at all. Mary’s pregnancy, in poor circumstances, and with the father unknown, would have been an obvious case for an abortion; and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger. Thus our generation, needing a Savior more, perhaps, than any that has ever existed, would be too humane to allow one to be born; too enlightened to permit the Light of the World to shine in a darkness that grows ever more oppressive.
Against this sad backdrop of doubt, I am grateful for the light God has given us. I am glad to declare the divinity of our Lord; to affirm that it is the Christ of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not the Jesus of Rice, Webber, Kazantzakis, and Crossan who is real; to testify that Jesus is not merely a man who died but a God who lives. In this article, I will discuss three survival skills for these skeptical times: believing in Christ, submitting to God’s will, and seeing with an eye of faith.

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