Speaking Of Life 2004 | Stranger Than Fiction
Ever notice how a group of people can hear the same speaker and hear different things? The same is true of people who read the same passages and come to different conclusions.
There were several prophecies and verses that people had connected with the coming Messiah. There was discussion on where he would be from. There was discussion about how the Messiah was going to be a prophet; he was going to be great military leader or a unifying politician.
For some reason, most did not connect the following prophecy with the coming of the Messiah.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, NRSV)
Most of us hear this verse read during Advent and Christmas. Even the song, “Silent Night” has the phrase: “Round yon virgin, mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild.”
This verse from Isaiah, and the interpretive stream that flowed from it, is part of the background this time of year, yet most who considered themselves versed in the prophecies never connected this with Jesus.
Some even argued that Jesus or his followers tried to intentionally fulfill prophecy to make him look like the messiah. As if they fit the man to the story.
But this bizarre detail of a virgin birth fits into how Jesus did things differently. All through the gospels, the story is the same. Jesus fills some expectations and not others. His singular life broke through the ideal everyone thought he would be. Instead of bringing about the great resurrection of the righteous, only he rises. Instead of liberating Israel from her oppressors, he spoke of a kingdom not of this world. Instead of being a military leader, he died at the hands of soldiers like a criminal.
Instead of mysteriously appearing on the earth, he’s quite literally born on the bad side of town to a teenage unwed virgin.
Jesus defied expectation. The Truth himself was stranger than fiction.
And he still seems to work that way. We see movements of God in our lives and our churches that defy expectation, that turn our predictions on their heads. We see him taking our small-minded visions and expanding them to change the world.
The Truth himself is stranger than fiction. The Truth is Jesus. He continues to appear among us miraculously; he continues to put twists of grace in the plot.
He is Immanuel – God with us. God became one of us. May you hear this truth and let it change you in ways you can’t even imagine.
I am Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.