“Miracles happen every day!” or so the saying goes. Depending on whom you ask, what constitutes a miracle will vary. Generally speaking, though, a miracle is perceived as some event that goes against the odds. For example, a comatose patient near death waking suddenly or a person surviving a catastrophic auto accident would be seen as miracles because the odds of either happening are remote.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. However, his birth was no ordinary event. In fact, his birth was a miraculous event. Not only because of who Jesus is, but also because of the prophecies that foretold his birth.
What are the Odds?
In order to better understand the extreme odds surrounding the birth of Christ, let’s look at odds of other things occurring.
The odds of . . .
- Being struck by lightning
- in a lifetime – 1:6,250
- in any given year – 1:750,000
- Winning the lottery
- PowerBall – 1:120,000,000
- Mega Millions – 1:135,000,000
- House being hit by meteor – 1:182,000,000,000,000 (trillion)
According to the DVD, The Privileged Planet, the odds of a planetary body—by chance—being able to sustain complex life is 1:1015. That’s 1 followed by fifteen zeros, or one quadrillion. And you thought the United States national debt was huge!
William Dembski, in his book No Free Lunch, calculated what he called the “upper probability bounds.” Put simply, this is the maximum number of probabilities (or possible events) that can occur. Anything that exceeds this is beyond possible. He calculated the upper bound to be 10150. That is 1 followed by 150 zeros, or one trillion trillions. Thus, the odds of any one event happening are, at most, 1:10150.
Many prophecies were written about the Messiah between 500 and 1,500 years before the birth of Christ; at least forty-eight are recorded in Scripture. In his book The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell records the following:
The odds of one man fulfilling . . .
- Just eight of those prophecies – 1:1017
- All forty-eight – 1:10157
In other words, it is more likely that a planet will simply, by chance, be able to sustain complex life. Further, the odds of any one man fulfilling all forty-eight requires more probabilities than are possible. Put simply, it is beyond possible for any one man to fulfill the prophesies about the Messiah. It can’t happen on its own. It is simply not possible.
Jesus Beats the Odds
The only way one man could fulfill eight, least of all forty-eight, prophecies is if some divine power was in control. Such a thing is so far beyond the realm of possibility that a deity must break all the odds, break the laws of physics, and make it happen. God must be involved!
Yet, Jesus did. God was involved!
Matthew alone records at least eleven prophecies fulfilled at Jesus’ birth. Eleven! The odds of that are, well, impossible—yet it happened!
What are some of the prophecies?
King in the line of David
1 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham
– Matthew 1:1 (NASB)
- 2 Samuel 7:12-13
- Isaiah 9:7
- Jeremiah 23:5
- Jeremiah 30:9
Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
1 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
– Matthew 1:1-2 (NASB)
- Genesis 17:7-8, 19
- Genesis 18:17-18
- Genesis 21:12
- Genesis 26:2-4
- Genesis 28:13-14
- Numbers 24:17, 19
Belongs to the tribe of Judah
1 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.
– Matthew 1:1-3 (NASB)
- Genesis 49:8-10
- Micah 5:2
Rod of Jesse’s stem
5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.
– Matthew 1:5-6 (NASB)
- Isaiah 11:1-2
Born of a virgin
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
– Matthew 1:18-25 (NASB)
- Isaiah 7:14
Born in Bethlehem
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’“
– Matthew 2:1-6 (NASB)
- Micah 5:2-5
Kings bring gifts and worship him
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’“ 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
– Matthew 2:1-11 (NASB)
- Psalm 72:10-11
He would come out of Egypt
13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”
– Matthew 2:13-15 (NASB, see also 2:19-21)
- Hosea 1:1
A massacre of children surrounds his birth
16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. 17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 18 “A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”
– Matthew 2:16-18 (NASB)
- Jeremiah 31:15
Jesus’ Birth is the Miracle of Christmas
The odds were stacked against him, yet Jesus did a miracle. Only by divine control, by the will and power of God, could one man fulfill all these prophecies. When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we do not celebrate the arrival of any baby. We do not celebrate merely the birth of the Savior. We celebrate the miracle that is the Saviors birth—how Jesus alone broke the odds and fulfilled many prophecies.
Christmas truly is a miraculous time. It is a time to celebrate and worship God who gave us Jesus. Do you know this Jesus? Would you like to know him today? God is ready to perform another miracle in your life by giving you hope, love, and life.
Next week: The Joy of Christmas