Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Trust the Spirit
One of the amazing things about the Biblical narrative of the Incarnation is the way it should have come as no surprise to anyone who was familiar with the sacred writings of the Hebrew tradition. In what we know today as the Old Testament there are numerous prophetic references to some of the details of the story that we know so well and re-enact during these days. One example of this is found in the story of the Wise Men from the East who come to visit the newborn King of the Jews. When they stop by Jerusalem asking Herod for directions, he sends for the priests and scribes who tell them that the prophet Micah said it would be Bethlehem.
Of course, the prophet Isaiah is one whose words point toward the birth, the life, the suffering, and the death of Jesus. In the 7th chapter, the 14th verse, we read, "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." Some translations render the word translated, "woman" to be "virgin." And, of course, the meaning of "Immanuel" is "God with us." It is truly amazing to read and ponder passages like these. Words like these written centuries before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem let us know that what we are preparing to celebrate in these holy days was not an afterthought in the mind of God. It was all a part of the divine plan from the beginning and even before.
Certainly, there are those Biblical scholars and teachers who would discredit this interpretation of some of these prophetic writings from the Old Testament. They can offer rather convincing arguments designed to point the reader toward a more ordinary meaning rather than the super-spiritual one which points toward God's plan for humanity. It is always important to remember when reading the scripture that the beginning point for understanding is not in what the human commentators say about a passage, but within the passage itself. The Word of God needs no one to stand under it to hold it up. And, it needs no teacher but the Holy Spirit. The One who brought the Word into being can be trusted to guide us into its truth.