Separating the truth from the tinsel
Today’s Text: Luke 1:30-37
Did you hear? People of faith need to, “move on from the ‘fanciful, fairy tale’ and disentangle the truth from the tinsel.” (1) Sounds good; doesn’t it?
He created something of a sensation. By “the tinsel,” however, Rev. Andrew Frater wasn’t talking about Shiny Brite ornaments. The Church of Scotland clergyman was referring to the Nativity—specifically the virgin birth. Rev. Frater claims the biblical account of Christmas keeps people away from church because “the Nativity was so easily dismissed.” (2)
The record of Jesus’ birth, however, sheds light on an important factor that some people, including this pastor sadly reject. Luke documents:
“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’
Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’
And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’”
ASKING QUESTIONS IS GOOD
Mary’s question was legitimate. She was shocked to hear Gabriel announce that she would be the mother of Messiah. Her question was an honest inquiry: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Lk. 1:34).
Hmm . . . conceiving a child without a man’s involvement? It was a real head-scratcher. Mary knew it was physically impossible under normal circumstances.
But she wasn’t left in the dark for long. The angel Gabriel revealed an important factor to Mary.
HEARING THE TRUTH IS ENLIGHTENING
Gabriel answered Mary honestly and somewhat matter-of-factly, “’The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (v. 35).
The form of his answer is called “synonymous parallelism.” Gabriel linked the Holy Spirit with the power of God. The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as the energizing power of the Godhead (Job 33:4; Ps. 33:6; 104:30; Jn. 6:63)
I don’t believe Gabriel’s choice of words was coincidental. The very first page of Scripture records, “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2). Gabriel’s words to Mary reflect similar imagery.
Maybe you’re not a believer, but indulge me for a moment. Think about the monumental miracle of special creation! In six literal days, God not only made His creation habitable, He also filled the earth with life—not just one life-form, but a multiplicity of kinds and diversity of species—fish, birds, reptiles, mammals. And, each life-form programmed with genetic information (DNA) could reproduce offspring of the same kind.
It was God who created man. In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told,
“Then God said,
‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . ‘
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).
Providing the Y chromosome required for Mary to give birth to a baby boy was absolutely no problem for the Sovereign of the Universe—He designed and created them. God programmed man’s DNA.
Gabriel’s answer enlightened Mary to the reality that the impossible was indeed possible because God was involved!
GOD’S WORD IS ILLUMINATING
Early in Israel’s history when Abraham’s 90-year-old wife, Sarah, laughed at the idea of having a son, the Lord asked her, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14).
Six months prior to speaking with Mary, Gabriel appeared to a temple priest named Zechariah. God’s angelic messenger announced that his barren wife would give birth to a son. When Zechariah asked, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years,” the angel replied, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.” ((Lk. 1:18-19).
When God is involved, anything is possible!
The virgin birth was not a normal biological event in any sense; it was never intended to be. People, who claim to have faith, yet deny the virgin birth—especially the clergy—need to return to the authority and veracity of the Word of God.
The virgin birth reveals the power of God to do what is otherwise impossible. That, of course, is the illuminating truth in the message of Christmas. The Nativity is a robust affirmation that “with God nothing is impossible” (v. 37).
When it comes to reclaiming Christmas, biblically authentic Christians grasp that the truth is not the tinsel and the tinsel is not the truth. Without the truth about the Nativity, the tinsel is all there is.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2017, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) Gerry Braden, “Kirk Minister: It’s time to lay to rest the ‘fanciful, fairy tale’ Nativity story,” The Herald website, December 18, 2015.