The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Understanding the Virgin Birth: Context & Mechanics

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The angel answered and said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Whenever our Gods do something miraculous—like causing a virgin woman to become pregnant—humans can be counted on to become so obsessed with trying to understand the mechanics of the miracle that they miss the important lessons.  To avoid getting sidetracked by miracles in your own life, here’s a good rule to go by:

When God does something miraculous, focus on the why, not the how, and ask Him to help you learn everything He wants to teach you from the experience.

If you abide by this rule, you’ll steer clear of all kinds of silliness—such as dickering about exactly how Mary became pregnant. 

Now if you’ve got a head crammed full of Catholic teaching, then for you, the birth of Jesus has been turned into a major mess.  Catholics use the miraculous impregnation of Mary as an excuse to exalt Mary as more than human.  In 1854, the Roman Catholic Church declared that God preserved Mary from ever sinning prior to birthing Jesus.  Of course it doesn’t say that anywhere in the text, but when you’re the Catholic pope, you enjoy the power of everyone thinking you are incapable of being wrong whenever you’re teaching on matters of faith.  So you can make up any guff you want to and your minions will blindly accept what you say.  This is how the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was born: the Catholics whipped that idolatrous piece of baloney out of the air, and people just accepted it without bothering to ask God for discernment.

As a Christian who is serious about pleasing God, you need to be aware that the Church has a major problem with idolatry. The whole Catholic saint package is about humans inventing new gods for themselves—and those gods are either humans who actually lived on the earth, or they’re just humans who we randomly invented.  The reality is that some Catholic saints are as fictional as the Easter Bunny—they are fictional from start to end.  Martyr stories are another wealth of fiction for Christians.  Isaiah being sawed in half.  Peter being crucified upside down.  The apostle John being boiled in oil.  Before you just accept wild tales about heroes of the faith acting like superhumans, you need to look beyond ancient gossip rags and consider if there really is any hard evidence to suggest that these events ever happened.  In many cases, there is not.

Here’s how it works in the world of humans worshiping humans: first, you pick the human who you want to worship, then you make up a bunch of dramatic tales about him or her.  Mary is a fine example of this.  Once people decided to worship Mary, they started inventing all kinds of guff about her that would make her sound more holy.  Over time, Catholics have produced many tall tales about Mary.  They say she’s sinless.  They say she ascended into Heaven at the end of her life (and therefore never died in bodily form).  They’ve even invented a mother for her—St. Anne—and deified her as well.  In real life, the biblical records do not support any of the guff Catholics have come up with about Mary.  But once you decide to worship someone, you want your new god to be impressive, so you just lie your face off and call it a Divine revelation.

Now labels are powerful, and Catholics are taught that they are innocent of idolatry as long as they avoid calling their saints “gods.”  And yet by the time we’re praying to Mary, writing worship songs for her, and viewing her as having supernatural powers, we are treating her like a god.  Merely avoiding using the g-word and substituting the word venerate for the word worship doesn’t make us innocent of idolatry.  Idolatry is when your soul admires someone or something to inappropriate degrees.  Who defines what inappropriate is?  The real Gods do.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit detest idolatry, and Their hatred of idolatry is one of the main themes of the Bible.  So when we start gushing over humans and applauding the pope as he adds new saints to our already extensive pantheon of idols, are we pleasing the real Gods?  Not hardly.  The worship of human saints and angelic beings has no place in the Christian’s life.

Let’s apply our discernment rule for miracles by focusing on the why more than the how.  Given our Gods’ disdain for idolatry, do you think They arranged the miracle with Mary so that we could all be inspired to idolize her?  Of course not.  Always ask God what He wants you to learn from His miracles.  Don’t just rely on your human leaders to steer you in the right direction, because so often they won’t.

Our Gods have massive egos and They love exalting Themselves.  When They perform miracles, one of Their purposes will be to turn our attention onto Them and to remind us of certain facts about Them, such as Their vast power and Their ability to ignore natural laws.  As soon as we read about God getting a virgin woman pregnant, we’re reminded that God is not bound by any of the limitations He puts on us.  We humans can’t procreate without getting sperm and egg to meet.  But the Creators of all life don’t need any kind of starter kit to make life happen.  Once we stop viewing God Almighty as being bound by any rules, we can see that being in endless awe over Mary’s pregnancy really isn’t the right response.  We’re supposed to be shocked and wowed at first—but then all of our marveling is supposed to result in some spiritual growth that permanently changes our perspective of what God is capable of.

There is such a thing as being too surprised by God.  The kind of surprise that results from us refusing to acknowledge God’s abilities is a kind of surprise that gets us into trouble with Him.  This is what happened to John the Baptist’s father.  Jesus and John were born only months apart, and both of their conceptions were miraculous events.  In Jesus’ case, Mary became pregnant without having sex with a man.  In John the Baptist’s case, his elderly parents were considered to be past childbearing age.  But in John’s case, his father Zacharias was a Jewish priest who was far too familiar with Jewish Scriptures to get away with scoffing at the notion of Yahweh getting an elderly couple pregnant.  Abraham was to the New Testament Jews what Mary is to Catholics today.  Abraham was worshiped as the father of the Jews, and one of the best known facts about Abraham was how Yahweh caused Abraham’s elderly wife Sarah to get pregnant even though she had a long history of infertility.  Because Zacharias was well-acquainted with this story, Yahweh expected him to understand that the Almighty Yahweh can turn fertility on and off anytime He feels like it.  And after giving Zacharias plenty of opportunities to learn the right lessons from all the miracles Yahweh had performed for the Jews in the past, Yahweh was irked by Zacharias scoffing at Yahweh’s announcement that Zacharias’ elderly wife was going to become pregnant.

Zacharias said to the angel, “How can I know that what you say is true? I am an old man, and my wife is old, too.” (Luke 1:18)

This scoffing comment results in Zacharias losing his ability to speak until John is born.  But wait—Mary also questioned God’s prophecy to her, and she didn’t get in trouble.  So why is it okay for Mary to question but not Zacharias?  The answer is soul attitude.  While Mary questioned the mechanics of the miracle, she was already aligning with God’s will for her life.  We find Mary expressing her submission to God when she says to the angel:

“I am Yahweh’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

In the Bible, you’ll often find God reacting very differently to the same kinds of human behavior.  Once you understand that God responds to our soul’s response to Him, you realize why God’s reactions to people seem so inconsistent at times.  God was fine with Mary’s question because she was responding well to Him on a soul level. But Zacharias was being a pill, which is why God came down hard on him.  Keep your focus on how God is reacting, and you’ll understand what’s really going on in these exchanges. When a God as gracious and patient as Yahweh slams Adam and Eve with a brutal punishment over one fruit sampling, the intensity of His anger tells you that He’s responding to very intentional defiance.  While the Church today portrays Adam and Eve as innocent simpletons who were tricked by a clever serpent, God’s reaction to them makes it clear that He wasn’t dealing with first time offenders, but hardened rebels.  Once you realize this, you realize that it’s wrong to assume that the fruit sampling was the first sin humans ever committed.  And when you review the text, you’ll find that it doesn’t say anything about the fruit sampling being the first sin—you just think it is because of comments made by the apostle Paul and other leaders in the Church, all of whom are jumping to false conclusions because they do not understand the Character of God (see Debunking The Fall: The Many Lies Christians Tell About Genesis 3).

WHAT MARY HEARD

Now whenever we’re trying to understand a passage of Scripture, we need to consider the cultural and theological background of the person God is talking to.  Mary was an ethnic Jew who believed that Yahweh was the one true God.  She did not recognize the Holy Spirit as the separate, magnificent Being who we know Him to be today.  In Bible times, Jews used the title Holy Spirit as a synonym for Yahweh.  In Psalm 51, David is praying only to Yahweh when he says:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your Presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Ps. 51:10-11)

As for Israel’s Messiah, it was totally inconceivable to Yahweh followers that the Messiah would be another God who was equal to the magnificent Yahweh.  In the Torah—which is composed of the first five books of the Christian Old Testament—Yahweh demands the immediate execution of any Yahweh follower who even speaks of worshiping multiple gods.  So for a reverent Jew like Mary, the concept of Yahweh having Divine Peers was a theological impossibility.  Once you realize what Mary’s theological framework was, you realize that the way she interpreted prophecy about Jesus was very different than how modern Christians interpret those same passages.  Let’s now compare what you read in your modern Christian Bible with what Mary actually heard.  Your Bible says something like this:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

What Mary heard would be this:

“The Spirit of Yahweh will come upon you, and the power of Yahweh will overshadow you. Then you’ll have a child, and Yahweh will consider that child to be specially set apart to serve God. Your child will be called the Son of Yahweh.” (Luke 1:35)

For a Jew like Mary, it wasn’t a new idea for Yahweh to announce ahead of time that some child was to be set apart to serve God in some special way.  Samson’s mother was told that her son was to be dedicated to Yahweh before the boy was even conceived.  Sarah was told that she would have a son who would receive special promises from Yahweh.  The prophets Hosea and Isaiah both had children who served as prophetic signs to the Israelites.  And then there were the accounts of Samuel and David, both of whom were quite young when Yahweh called them to serve Him.  So Mary’s theology can handle the idea of Yahweh giving her a special child—especially when her cousin Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) had something quite similar happen to her a few months earlier.

Mary can handle having a special child, and with all male Yahweh followers referring to themselves as “sons of Yahweh,” there was nothing at all surprising about Yahweh using this title.  As a Christian, when you hear the title “Son of God,” you instantly think of the God Jesus.  But this is not at all what Mary thought.  Just as Christians today call themselves “the children of God,” Yahweh followers had been referring to themselves as God’s sons and daughters for centuries.  The point we’re making is this: nothing about this prophecy suggests that Mary’s child would be Divine.  That bomb would be dropped much later on when adult Jesus started performing miracles and dropping hints about how He had some special, intimate connection with Yahweh.  Such comments were very distressing to sincere Yahweh followers.  When the Guy in front of you looks like a normal human being, it’s more than a little hard to swallow His claims to be a Divine Being who has existed since before the time of Abraham.  Jesus would turn out to be a theological nightmare for sincere Jews like Mary who had been taught that it was total blasphemy to even consider the possibility that there could be any other Being like Yahweh.  And since Yahweh is the One who set Mary up to find the Divinity of her Son so distressing, Yahweh is intentionally easing Mary into this whole Messiah thing one small step at a time.  Nowhere does He hint that Mary is about to birth a God.  Instead, He leads her to believe her child is going to be a normal human being, whose existence is going to come about in a miraculous way in order to make it super clear to the Jews that this kid is the Messiah who they’ve all been waiting for.

Now the Jews were obsessed with ancestry, and they tracked their ancestors through the male side.  So it’s certainly a big deal to Mary that Yahweh is positioning Himself to be the Father of her baby.  That’s definitely not something she ever thought Yahweh would do.  But since she also knows that Yahweh is violently opposed to anyone suggesting that there could be any other Being like Him in existence, Mary is not going to even consider leaping to the conclusion that her baby is going to be some God-human hybrid.  Hybrids weren’t theological possibilities for the Jews.  You were either a human, an angel, or you were Yahweh Himself: those were the only options.  Mary knew she wasn’t birthing Yahweh, and she knew she wasn’t birthing an angel.  So as far as she was concerned, her child would be a normal human being–there was no other possibility.  And yet clearly her child was someone who Yahweh was showing mega favor to already, and that was a very thrilling thought.  What serious Christian wouldn’t want her child to grow up to be a dedicated man of God?  For a religious Jew like Mary, the thought of her son being so favored by Yahweh that Yahweh would actually pose as the boy’s Father–well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Now the verse we’ve been working with so far is only one part of a longer exchange that Mary had with her angelic messenger. In case you’re wondering why Yahweh used an angel to deliver this message to Mary instead of just showing up Himself, realize that Old Covenant believers were terrified of seeing Yahweh face to face.  They were taught to believe that no human could look at God and actually live.  By sending a far less threatening angel, Yahweh is saving Mary a bunch of unnecessary distress.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” (Lk. 1:26-28)

This account is being written by Jewish Luke.  When Luke says that the angel Gabriel was sent by God, he means Yahweh.  So what we’re being told here is that Yahweh sent an angel to intercept Mary and spring this greeting on her.  Realize that Old Covenant Jews often referred to Yahweh as the Lord or Adonai.   So what Mary hears the angel say is that she should be really happy because Yahweh is pleased with her.  Well, what is that supposed to mean?  Mary is wisely cautious of this gushing compliment.  False prophets and sorcerers abound in Israel at this time, and it was not unusual for people to report having visions of angels.  So is this a real vision or is Mary just imagining it?  Is this stranger really bringing her a word from her God?

Mary was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you will call His Name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:29-33)

Let’s now rewrite this statement to capture how Mary would have theologically interpreted it.  She would have heard something like this:

“There’s no need to fear, Mary, because Yahweh is pleased with you. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, who Yahweh wants you to call by the very common name of Yeshua, which means ‘Yahweh Saves.’ Your son will become a very influential man in your society, and people will called him the son of Yahweh.  Yahweh will make your son a ruler over Israel—he’ll sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem! Your son will reign over Israel for a very long time and no one will take his kingdom away from him.”

Boy, talk about misleading.  God is making it sound like Mary’s son is going to become a famous and highly respected king of Israel who is going to live to a ripe old age.  This prophecy perfectly fits New Testament Jewish expectations of how Israel’s Messiah would function.  They were expecting a king who would make Israel into a world power, because that’s what Yahweh led them to expect in the Old Testament prophetic books.

Way back in the days of King David, Yahweh had promised David that his kingdom would last forever—that one of David’s descendants would always reign in Jerusalem.  Did this really happen?  Not at all.  In real life, Israel was conquered by another nation around 586 BC, stripped of her independence, and she didn’t have any king for centuries.  First she was the property of the Babylonians, then the Persians, then the Greeks, and finally the Romans.  By Mary’s time, there is a man who rules over Jerusalem, but he’s just a puppet of Rome.  The New Testament Jews are sick and tired of being owned by foreign empires.  They desperately want their independence.  But wait—isn’t it bothering anyone that Yahweh totally lied to David about always having a descendant on the throne in Israel?  After all, if Yahweh fibbed about that prophecy, who’s to say He isn’t fibbing now with this promise that Mary’s son will grow up to be a great king of Israel and reestablish David’s line of kings?  Well, like Christians today, New Testament Jews preferred to cling to the delusion that God never lies even though their Scriptures were full of evidence to the contrary. So when Yahweh gives Mary this prophecy about her son being the future king of Israel, it makes sense to her.  And it sounds great.  Finally, Israel will get a powerful king who will get her independence back.  And according to Old Testament prophecies, this new king won’t just reestablish Israel as an independent nation, but he’ll turn her into such a powerful kingdom that all of her enemies will be forced to grovel at her feet.  But as great as this all sounds, Mary has one technical question…

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

The angel replied: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. (Lk. 1:34-38)

Notice how God throws in that bit about Elizabeth to help Mary feel like she’s not totally alone in the impossible pregnancy department.  That’s a very comforting thought.  What’s really not comforting is how Mary is going to get people to believe her story.  Everyone knows she’s a virgin, and if she suddenly turns up pregnant, people are going to assume she cheated on Joseph, who she is engaged to.  Yahweh has some very harsh commands regarding women who sleep around.  So as exciting as it is to think she’s going to be the mother of Israel’s long awaited Messiah-King, Mary also knows that Yahweh is setting her up to be murdered.  After this exchange with the angel, Mary runs off to stay with her cousin for three months, and in her famous song of praise, we can tell that she’s getting truly excited about the idea of being the mother of Israel’s new king.

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord! How my spirit rejoices in Yahweh my Savior! For He took notice of His lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me!” (Lk. 1:46-49)

Who is Mary praising here?  Yahweh, not Jesus, and not the Holy Spirit.  Mary only knows one God at this point, and she never dreams that any other God could exist.  As for Elizabeth, we need to hear her comment to Mary in the correct context:

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. I am so honored that the mother of my lord should visit me! When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.” (Lk. 1:42-45)

As a polytheistic Christian (and yes, you are a polytheist), you read this and you think “Look, Elizabeth gets that Mary is the mother of a Divine Being!”  But no, this isn’t at all what Elizabeth is saying.  Like Mary, Elizabeth is a sincere Yahweh follower who never dreams that there could be multiple Gods in existence.  So what Elizabeth meant is this:

“Mary, Yahweh has favored you above all other women, and the child you’re carrying is blessed by Him as well. I am so honored, that the mother of Israel’s future ruler should visit a commoner like me! When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are being favored because you believed that Yahweh would do what He said.”

You see Lord was a very common title of respect for the Jews—rather like the English title of Sir.  Yahweh was not the only One who the Jews called Lord or Adonai.  Jewish women referred to their husbands as their lords.  When Jewish men and women were interacting with men who outranked them socially, they called those men their lords.  And if you call the rich man next door your lord, then of course you’re going to refer to the rulers of your society as lords. Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary makes it clear that she’s heard about the angel’s prophecy, and she has interpreted it the same way Mary has.  She believes that Mary’s baby is going to grow up to be one of Israel’s greatest kings. Elizabeth is so excited about this whole idea that she’s rushing to show her allegiance to the new ruler by talking to her commoner cousin as if Mary has suddenly gained some great social status. And indeed, Mary will be vaulted to the top of Israel’s society one day when her baby grows up and takes the throne in Jerusalem.  But should Yahweh turn out to be lying about the future of Mary’s child, then Mary just might find herself weeping at the foot of a cross where her young adult Son is dying a horrific death.  Talk about things turning out unexpectedly.

THE MECHANICS OF THE MIRACLE

So now that we understand how Mary was theologically interpreting her miraculous conception, just how did God pull off this feat?  What exactly happened?  Well, to properly understand baby Jesus, you need to realize that Jesus is God Almighty, not a human being.  Jesus’ existence did not begin in Mary’s womb.  As a true God, Jesus is not a physical being who has to go around in a body.  The real Jesus has been around forever.  So it wasn’t Jesus the God who was miraculously brought into existence inside of Mary’s womb, but rather the physical earthsuit that Jesus the God would use to interface with humans during His tour through Israel.  In other words, what was miraculously created was a body—a costume.

Now there is something about God donning an earthsuit that causes Christians to lose a grip on the fact that Jesus has never been less than a fully Divine Being.  To view Jesus’ physical body correctly, you should view it as just one of countless physical props that our Gods have used in Their interactions with humans over time.

When Yahweh parted the Red Sea for the Hebrew slaves to pass through, He instructed Moses to hold up his wooden walking staff.  Does the fact that Yahweh used the staff as a prop in His miracle mean that the entire Being of Yahweh was somehow confined to that single stick until the miracle was finished?   When Yahweh showed up in human form to chat with Abraham right before the destruction of Sodom, was He limited to only existing in that one human body until His visit with Abraham was done?  Can’t God use physical props without being imprisoned by those props?  And can’t God multitask and exist in many places at the same time? Of course He can, and yet there’s something about Jesus walking around Israel in human form that makes Christians decide He couldn’t be doing anything else but that until His crucifixion.  Once Jesus dies on a cross, we say that He was stuck in Hell for three days.  When He resurrects, we say that He was stuck on the earth again as a prisoner of His body prop until He finally ascended into Heaven.  And to hear Peter tell it, Jesus is now stuck in Heaven until Yahweh lets Him out.  In Acts 3, Peter is in the middle of a long, theologically flawed sermon, when he says:

“For Jesus must remain in Heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as Yahweh promised long ago through His holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21)

In other words, Peter thinks Jesus has to have a permission slip from Yahweh before He can leave Heaven (see Know Your Bible Lesson 73: Peter Reduces Christ).  Being trapped in Heaven until some other Being lets you out–that certainly doesn’t sound very Divine, does it?

Today the Church promotes reams of idiotic teaching about Jesus which she gets from the New Testament epistles.  Since the New Testament authors did not view Jesus as a Divine Being, it’s only natural that they spoke about Him in limiting terms (see How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human).  But if you’re a Christian, then you’re not supposed to be finding Jesus’ Divinity threatening.  You’re supposed to grasp that Jesus is just as Divine, powerful, and all around awesome as Yahweh and the magnificent Holy Spirit.

As a human, you become a prisoner of your prop when you slip on a costume and the zipper gets stuck so that you can’t get back out of it.  But Jesus is not some speck of a creature whose agenda gets stalled by jamming zippers.  Jesus is God Almighty.  While Jesus was walking around in Israel in His human costume, He was also managing the molecules on the moon, directing asteroids through the universe, giving orders to angels in Heaven, doling out the punishments in Hell, revising the plans of demons, and managing countless other creations that He and His Divine Peers have going on.  So you really need to lose this idea that Jesus was a prisoner of His own prop.

If other people want to reduce Jesus to some bumbling mortal who grew up haunted by the feeling that maybe He was Someone special, let them, but you need to treat your God better than that.  And as for that dolt who authored the epistle of Hebrews and his theory that Jesus had to “learn obedience through suffering”—you can’t possibly call such rot “Divinely inspired” once you really think about how ludicrous it is to suggest that God Almighty has to learn anything, least of all how to obey Himself.  You see, because the biblical records about Jesus were penned by men who weren’t theologically ready to deal with the concept of a second God, we find Jesus being portrayed as far more limited than He really is.  When He acted tired, His disciples assumed that He must actually be tired—you know, because even the Creator of all things can only go so long without snacking and napping.

The New Testament Jews viewed Jesus as a human who was channeling the power of Yahweh.  We Christians are supposed to understand that Jesus didn’t have to channel anyone, because Jesus is just as powerful as Yahweh is.  So while the Jews naturally gave Yahweh the credit for every miracle Jesus did—including the famous resurrection of Lazarus—in real life, it was Jesus doing all of those things.

Raising dead humans back to life is child’s play when you’re God.  It’s a simple matter of dropping a soul back into an earthsuit and giving the corpse a reboot.  While the New Testament authors all credit Yahweh for raising Jesus back to life, in real life Jesus raised Himself.  Jesus actually said that He would raise Himself, because He knew that the Jews believed only a true God had the power to do such things.  By raising Himself back to life, Jesus was giving the Jews hard evidence that He was just as powerful as Yahweh. But of course they refused to accept this evidence and instead gave all of the glory to Yahweh (see Who raised Jesus from the dead?).  When humans don’t want to believe something, they won’t, no matter how much evidence is thrust in their faces.

So then, did Jesus really die on a cross?  Of course not.  Gods don’t die.  Jesus merely left His costume hanging lifeless for all to see.  Of course the Jews assumed that meant that Jesus’ soul had gone on to the underworld.  But had it?  No, because as an omnipresent God, Jesus is already everywhere all the time.  He didn’t really leave earth when He left His corpse hanging on a cross—He was still on earth, managing the molecules with His usual brilliance.  After three days had passed, He brought His costume back to life, popped out of His grave, and wowed everyone.  A short while later He ascended into Heaven and left the planet—at least that’s how His followers interpreted the sight of His costume rising up to the clouds.  In real life, the whole thing was a theatrical show put on for the benefit of humans.  Jesus didn’t really leave the earth—He was still there, just not in costume.

Because humans rely far too much on their senses to define reality, Jesus’ followers concluded that if they could no longer, see, hear or touch Jesus, He must be gone for good.  In the New Testament epistles we find a bunch of references to Jesus “ascending into Heaven” to sit down at the right hand of Yahweh.  And yet was this really what He did?  No, because unlike us, Jesus isn’t limited to being in one place at a time.  Jesus didn’t need to ascend into Heaven, because He never left Heaven.  We shouldn’t be waiting for Him to return from Heaven, because He’s already here–He never left the earth.  Are you starting to see the problem with mainstream Christian teaching about Jesus?  We don’t talk about Him like He’s God Almighty—instead, we’re always reducing Him and pretending He doesn’t have a fraction of the capabilities that He does.  And then when we think about that baby in a manger, we actually think that our God has been reduced to some helpless, crying infant who depends on Mary to take care of Him.  We don’t see that the infant is the One who is holding Mary’s molecules together, protecting her, leading her, and teaching her.

It’s only when you stop viewing our Gods as Gods that the virgin birth seems like a confounding mystery.  But once you really think about how many humans our Gods had already made by the time They got around to Mary, and when you realize that the whole sperm and egg routine is something They do for the fun of it, not because They can’t build a body any other way, then it really takes the wow out of the virgin birth.  So then, how did Mary become pregnant without ever having sex with a man?  Well, it was probably a simple matter of one of our Gods saying, “Now you’re pregnant,” and it was so.

FURTHER READING:
Impressing the Devil: Jesus’ Self-Exalting Temptation Story
Know Your Bible Lesson 67: Fully God & Only God
Know Your Bible Lesson 68: God On Trial
Understanding Jesus’ Use of Titles: Son of God, Son of Man, I AM

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