The Apostles' Creed Part 3: Believing the Unbelievable

The Apostles' Creed Part 3: Believing the Unbelievable

How do we make sense of an outrageous idea found in our faith?
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The Tooth Fairy grabs a tooth out from under a pillow and then leaves a buck in its place. A big, bearded jolly guy parks his flying deer on roofs, squeezes himself through chimneys and leaves gifts under Christmas trees. A rabbit hops around the neighborhood (always unnoticed) and gives out candy–filled baskets. Admit it. You once believed all that. It's OK, we all did. Then somebody wise to the ways of the world—maybe a big, grown–up 8-year-old cousin—tips us off: "It's not true! Nobody believes that kid stuff anymore!"

Then we stopped believing in fairy tales. We were no longer that gullible. We no longer believed the unbelievable. We were wise to the ways of the world. We wouldn't be fooled again.

Jesus was born of a virgin?

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary." —from the Apostles' Creed

How are we to make sense of this outrageous idea found in our faith? We know how babies get here, and it has nothing to do with fairy tales or storks.

The truth is: Mary knew this, too. When told by an angel (yes, an angel), she was going to have a baby, she reacted like any smart, young virgin would react. First, she kind of freaked out—after all, a strange supernatural being was talking to her! Luke, a historian and not a writer of fairy tales, records that Mary was "thoroughly shaken" (Luke 1:29, The Message). Then Luke tells us how Mary responds to the angel:

"But how? I've never slept with a man."

Mary was right on target, wasn't she? She knew how women got pregnant.

The angel then went on to answer her reasonable question. He told her that she would conceive a baby by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary may not have believed in fairy tales, but she did believe in the power of the God she followed. Here's how she replied to the angel's message: "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true" (Luke 1:38, NLT).

Mary helps us to see that a miracle can happen—God can do things that seem impossible. I guess that's what makes it a miracle. The impossible becomes possible. Of course, we don't have to simply take Mary's word for it. There is the ancient prophecy that predicts the virgin birth 750 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah 7:14 (NIRV) says: "The Lord himself will give you a miraculous sign. The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel [which means 'God with us']."

The virgin birth is important. That's why it shows up in the Apostles' Creed. It tells us that Jesus' birth was a unique, once–and–only–once event. There have been no virgin births since, and we have no reason to believe there will be any virgin births in the future. God wanted to get humanity's attention. He wanted to shout loud and clear: "Here I am on Planet Earth! And to prove it, I will be born miraculously from a young and godly woman."

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