My belief does not rest strongly upon tradition and storytelling but is based in the truths of the present that can be traced back to a birth in Bethlehem that has one explanation. That explanation being a miraculous birth of a baby, born to a young virgin girl by the name of Mary and her husband Joseph, conceived not of man but through the working of the Holy Spirit. This belief is traced backwards through five important events in the history of the Christian Faith. These events are as follows:
1) The Ascension
2-3) The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
4) The Gospel
5) The Virgin Birth
1) The Ascension
Debate about the origins of Christianity and the various doctrines often dominate and at times tend to hijack opportunities to share and witness to the good news to believers and non-believers alike. While debate often arises over certain topics, such as “the Virgin Birth,” in some ways this is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. Instead of arguing or debating the historicity of the virgin birth, we should be asking a much more important question. “Why are we discussing Christianity in the first place?” The mere fact that Christianity is being discussed is a much more important topic for discussion and inquiry. The only reasonable explanation for the emergence and survival of the Christian faith is that a man named Jesus Christ lived, died, was buried, resurrected and then ultimately ascended into heaven out of the sight and reach of his believers only to then bless them with the power necessary to teach and physically heal the world through the power of his name. The mere fact that the Christian faith has survived persecution, outlasted empires, emperors, tyrants and wars is an almost unbelievable historical fact. The fact that men and women throughout history have affected the world the way they have, in the name of Jesus Christ, is evidence that they were touched, healed and gifted with extraordinary abilities that are inexplicable even to the persons who received them except by the one Name: Jesus. The fact that there is a debate about the virgin birth is proof that this “Christianity” is a faith worth discussing. This leads one to the fact that Jesus did not live and die an old-wise man in the arms of his faithful followers, but that, after a violent death in his youth, he resurrected and ascended as he promised and is currently seated at the right hand of the Father.
2-3) The Resurrection/The Crucifixion
The following two points discuss similar ideas and thus will be discussed together. Just as the previous section referenced the discussion of the virgin birth as being less important than the discussion of Christianity in general, the same point applies to the Resurrection and Crucifixion. While Jesus never personally wrote anything down and while we do not have physical proof of his body or a tomb, the name of Jesus has come down to us as arguably the most important name in human history. The debates about Jesus are typically over whether or not he was divine or thought of himself as divine or if his followers applied those attributes to his name only after his death. However, historians and scholars alike agree that there in fact was a man named Jesus Christ who lived in Israel at the time that the Gospels place him there and he was in fact crucified. Just as the discussion of the virgin birth leads one to belief in the ascension, the same applies to the discussion of the Ascension leading one to belief in the Crucifixion and ultimate Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In order for there to be Ascension, there must be a place from which to ascend. As history brings Jesus to us as a real man who was crucified under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, this man named Jesus must have died under this punishment, and that death should have ended his followers’ allegiance. With crucifixion being a death reserved to torture and execute the worst of criminals, the followers of Jesus must have been, and were, as stated in the Gospel of Luke, in a state of utter grief at the time of his death on the cross.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in Wordand deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
The fact that their grief was then turned to complete devotion and worship gives us a story of a man that was completely man enough to die but likewise entirely God in order to rise and ascend in victory. At this point of the trace, we are left with the man of Jesus: clearly in this world but not from this world.
3) The Gospel
For years the Gospels were viewed by many critics and unbelievers as works of fiction compiled by believers desperate to create a story worth believing in and hell-bent on forcing others to believe in it. As history has come to validate the life and death of the man named Jesus, history has also done the Gospels equal justice. The years in which the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written have slowly worked their way closer and closer to the actual time of Jesus’ passing in roughly 33 C.E. In the presence of more research and study of the Palestine area, the Gospel of Luke and the information included in it have slowly been legitimized one by one as fact, as opposed to fabrication or amateur scholarship. The Gospels as we find them now of a man who clearly died and must have resurrected in order for the discussion of the virgin birth to be happening in the first place are not only more evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but included within them are incidences of divine power unparalleled by any prophet, teacher or spiritual leader. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only time in history where the Creator God literally entered into human existence in order to display his unlimited knowledge and power over creation in the man of Jesus Christ. The Gospels document these moments written by those who witnessed the divine power firsthand.
1 John 1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
Thus we find ourselves in a place where the Ascension, Resurrection and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ have been given solid footing in historical fact. Now we find ourselves in a place where the Gospels and the writers of them have been given historical validation as being the source of a life lived by the man Jesus Christ from a place of eyewitness testimony.
4) The Virgin Birth
Finally, we find ourselves at the place where the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus can be believed, where the Gospels and the writers of them can now be believed. Therefore, as Matthew and Luke both include the story of the Virgin Birth in their narratives of Jesus Christ, as the prophecies of the Messiah being born to a Virgin in the town and from the line that God had guided and blessed since the first man of Eden, no longer seem historically unbelievable. The impossible becomes not only possible but plausible, and the life of Jesus Christ takes its place as the one and the only Savior of the world born in order to direct us to the hand of God at work in the world we live in. “With God all things are possible” and as one traces these landmark events in the Christian faith back, including the virgin birth, one finds that God does not require belief purely on blind-faith in the impossible, but rather we discover a greater faith in the impossible becoming possible through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.