Was Jesus’ Birth a Miracle?

The NativityThought for the Week

Christmas commemorates an “impossible” event–the miraculous birth of a child to a woman who’d never “known” (had sexual relations with) a man (Luke 1:34).

It is commonly believed that miracles are events outside, i.e. in violation of, the laws of nature. Therefore, many believers see them as the breaking of those laws by God, and non-believers see them as unscientific myths.

But both are wrong.

The word miracle (in both Hebrew and Greek) simply means a “sign” or “wonder.” Think of it this way: Motors, following natural laws discovered and tapped by clever inventors, drive shafts that turn wheels, propelling automobiles forward. But these laws make it “impossible” to slow down or stop—unless some sentient being (us), using the same natural laws, applies a counter-force (gears, brake pads, ignition).

Two months ago, the day before a long-planned vacation, I rushed to finish installing a cupola on our garage roof. After attaching a home-made base to the roof peak, I looked for the twenty very specific wood screws the Amish builders had chosen for assembling the handsome new cupola. They were nowhere to be found, and none of my surplus screws were the right specs. I searched everywhere in my house, even the roof. An hour later, on the verge of giving up, I prayed, “God, what should I do?” Instantly, I looked over at our basement furnace. Which made no sense. The furnace was nowhere near where I’d been working, yet I sensed I “should” look under it. And sure enough, there was the little packet of screws.

“Miraculous”? Perhaps I’d accidentally swept them off the workbench, and then, in turning to reach for something, unwittingly kicked them across the room and under the furnace. I don’t think any natural laws were countered; it was more “miracle-ish” than miraculous. Nevertheless, it was a small “wonder” that turned my thoughts to the loving God who wanted to calm me down and commune with me before our scheduled getaway, which in itself turned out to be unexpectedly wondrous.

Jesus’ birth was, of course, infinitely bigger. Still, like my little “miracle of the lost screws,” it was not in violation of the laws of nature, but a loving, intentional counter-application of those laws by none other than…

The One who created them.

*Addendum: Not very well explained here, I’m afraid. For a further explanation of this point, please see my reply to alsavignano in the Responses section below.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Was Jesus’ Birth a Miracle?

  1. The word that came to me is serendipity, but maybe it doesn’t fit with specific Amish screws. I so enjoyed revisiting your genealogy trip!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wynne Leon says:

    I completely agree with your definition of a miracle. And the little ones that are very specific to our lives like the screws help us identify the bigger one! Merry Christmas, Mitch!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Back in 1973, I was an unseasoned winter driver. En route to my community college. I began fishtailing on an icy freeway overpass and panicked; could’ve easily head on collided with a semi, yet, did not. What happened next, only a veteran Hollywood stunt driver could’ve pulled off in “one take” for his director. By the end of that wild ride, I had jumped the curb to perfectly “perpendicular park” between two, closely spaced road signs; with no damage to any human and vehicular bodies in the vicinity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t every birth a miracle?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. stolzyblog says:

    I have a different idea as to the birth of Jesus. It has long interested me as to why both Luke and Matthew’s gospels expend deliberate and considerable energy in order to delineate the genealogy on the PATERNAL side for Jesus, down to Joseph, who acted as father. (It is also intriguing as to why one of these two gospels lists 77 generations while the other only lists 42 — if I recall my counts correctly — and that they contain different male forbearers! But this is a separate mystery.) Clearly, the gospel writers were concerned as to the male genealogy of Jesus, and it is hard to see a reason why if physical heritage was not to be a factor. I have come to think the following: the original Covenant spoken of so prominently in the Old Testament has to do with the fore-planned lineage (divinely planned, not humanly planned) of Jesus Christ within the Hebrew people. It was necessary that extremely ‘pure’ physical vehicles be prepared as parents, and this process began either 42 or 77 generations prior. When Mary say she has not known of man, this has unfortunately been translated in many more modern versions of scripture as ‘virgin’, implying a permanent physical condition. I believe both Mary and Joseph were ‘pure’ at the time when the holy spirit descended upon them (as explained in Mary’s dream conversation with an angel). I believe they were both placed in an unconscious trance state when the spirit descended, and had no memory of their union, which consequently contained no passion of any sort. This was the condition which was required for Christ to begin incarnating into a physical human, a process begun at conception. But Hebrew genetic material from both parents were significant. And the conception was immaculate precisely because the holy spirit effected it while the two parents were in a state of deep (holy) trance. There are many ‘miracles’ portrayed in the gospels and I have no issue considering that they actually occurred, especially the numerous healings and calling out of demons and so on. Also the Resurrection. But I think the commonplace virgin birth narrative is incorrect and something tacked on later by various official authoritative interpreters. Mary and Joseph were both ‘virgin’ in the purity of their souls before the conception. But physical genetic material from both were used.

    I know this is controversial. But I think it is true.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. alsavignano says:

    The birth of Jesus is a miracle. Mitch finding the lost screws is Providential.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Al, I did a rather poor job of connecting the dots in this post. *Hence, I’m using my response to you as a sort of footnote for anyone who cares to read it. My point was that miracles, as described in Scripture–“signs,” “wonders,” and “powers” (translations of the three key Greek words rendered as “miracles”)–are acts demonstrating God’s presence. And in that sense only, not degree, I described my little lost screws incident as a “miracle,” using quote marks to indicate my tongue in my cheek. Jesus’ birth, or rather Mary’s impregnation, was, as I said “infinitely” greater than my little encounter.

      However, in neither case, according to theologians since the time of Augustine — and this was what I was trying to get at — did God act outside of or against the laws of nature (which He himself created). Why is that important? Because the idea that miracles defy the laws of nature, popular since the mid-19th century, is often cited as proof that biblical miracles, such as Jesus’ miraculous birth, are nothing but myths, ergo the Bible can’t be trusted. Christmas blessings, my friend.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Mitch, I’ve found that most of my answers to prayer were providential rather than ” miraculous” or breaking any natural laws. The “sign” for me is not in the “what,” but in the “when.” – Why did that naturally occurring thing come about JUST when I needed it?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. #hood says:

    luke 1:09 the lord has given a spirit of fear

    Like

  9. When I can’t find something and pray to St. Anthony (St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around; something is lost that must be found) and then find the missing thing, I think it is miraculous (or at least a wonder).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Nancy says:

    Your post reminds me of how God cares about the smallest little details of our lives. I’m in awe of his goodness. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. K.L. Hale says:

    “There are only two ways to live your life; one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”-Albert Einstein. I really choose the latter. Jesus’ birth was a miracle! Me, still being alive (although much more insignificant in comparison to THE LORD OF ALL ;-), is a miracle. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mitch! I’m so glad you’re a part of our journey. I always appreciate your wisdom, dialogue, and respect for all.

    Liked by 2 people

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