Today was part 3 of our Vintage Jesus series. Today we talked about the debate about Mary. What she a virgin? What should our view be of her today? What separates us from our Catholic & Jewish friends? For me, this was an interesting topic to research and write a message about. One of the books I read to prepare for today was The Real Mary by Scot McKnight, which I would highly recommend.
The virgin birth of Jesus is the 2nd most debated miracle in history, his resurrection, which we celebrate at Easter is the most debated. One of the big debates today is whether or not it really happened. Was Mary really a virgin? If she was, why do only 2 gospels mention it? What about the Hebrew words in Isaiah 7:14, which is where a lot of the debate comes from. The word in that verse for virgin is almah, which means young woman. The Hebrew word betulah means virgin, but almah is used. The point I brought out today is that they are synonyms, not antonyms. Just because a someone is a young woman, does not mean she is not a virgin. In fact, in the life of Rebekah in Genesis 24:16, 43; they are used interchangeably. The amazing thing is when Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus, he quotes Isaiah, to say, this is happening here, don’t miss this. This is only half the debate, this is the debate we have with our Jewish friends.
The other side of this debate is the debate we have with our Catholic friends. We looked at what the Bible does not say about the virgin birth. It does not say that Mary did not have a normal delivery, that Jesus’ virgin birth was taken from other religions, that Jesus’ virgin birth was needed to keep Him from having a sin nature or that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life. These are popular beliefs when it comes to this discussion, but all of these do not appear in the Bible.
The question that has to be asked is, is this a big deal? In his book Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell (who I am a big fan of) uses the analogy of the brick wall. He says, if our faith is like a brick wall and you take out the virgin birth, you still have a wall. This is true, the wall is still there and this is an interesting discussion to have. But if you take out that brick, you also have to take out the brick that says Jesus is the Messiah because Isaiah says the Messiah will be born of a virgin. Jesus, Mary & the gospel writers & Paul declared that Jesus was born of a virgin, making them liars. Jesus has to be sinless to be God, which we now lost that. I don’t know, but we now have a big hole in the wall. It is that big of a deal, this is that important, so much of our faith hinges on this.