Last week I talked about how the Christmas story was about humanity and it is. It’s also a miracle. If you’re like me, you’re a logical thinker. Maybe you're a little uncomfortable with talk of miracles. That word conjures up a charismatic preacher who may or not be telling the truth. Maybe it’s a just a little harder to explain than other things. Miracles take faith. It takes faith to believe a virgin gave birth to the Son of God. But also, there’s a whole lot of evidence. And that evidence lies in the prophecies.
In the Old Testament prophets recorded all kinds of things that Jesus would be and do. There are things we know about like being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). But there are also weird things like he’ll never have broken bones (Exodus 12:46, Psalm 24:20)and he’ll be confronted by adversaries in the garden (Psalm 40:14). The number of prophecies he fulfilled is debated because some are similar, but most scholars say at least 300. But he could do that right? Just go through the prophecies and tick them off one after another like a "prophecy to do list". Well, who controls when and where they’re born? That one would be tough. So what is the probability that, in human history, one man happened to tick off all these 300 prophecies?
Professor Peter W. Stoner who served as the Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College and Chairman of the science division at Westmont College wrote a book called Science Speaks. In it, he outlines the mathematical probability of one person in the first century fulfilling just eight of the most clear and straightforward Messianic prophecies. Yep, you heard that. To simplify things, he narrowed it down to only EIGHT prophecies and what was the result?
“We find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10^17 (1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000).” If you were to give words to that number it would be one hundred quintillion. That’s a word I thought was made up. Like a little kid saying, “That’s one thousand hundred ga-billion jillion!”
Stoner went on to calculate the probability of one person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 in 10^157. I’m not even going to attempt to say that in words.
So, what does this mean to us? Well, quite simply it’s a miracle. Statistically speaking, it’s not probable that the birth of Jesus just happened. It was ordained by God for a specific purpose. And we believe it by faith, but it’s not blind faith. In fact, one could argue it takes more faith to believe it’s not a miracle. The odds are in the favor of it being miraculous.
If you already believe this, I think this evidence helps give you confidence. If you don’t, I’d beg you to consider the likeliness of a man coming to earth and fulfilling all these prophecies from different people in different places throughout human history. How is it possible outside of a miracle?
When you do your Christmas traditions this year -whatever those are, take time to remember this is a story of a miracle. Not just one, but hundreds of miracles in those short 33 years Jesus was on earth. He came with a purpose -to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, but he also fulfilled the prophecies so we can know it’s true. My logical mind is relieved and my soul finds hope in that. I hope yours does too.