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Matthew 1:18-25
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.

“Things Will Happen as You Believe!”

I want to start with something funny. I think I shared this story before: A little girl asked her mum, “How did the human race appear?” Her mom answered, “God made Adam and Eve, and they had children, and so all mankind was made.” Two days later, the girl asked her dad the same question. Her dad answered, “Many years ago, there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.” The confused girl returned to her mum and said, “Mum, how is it possible that you told me God created the human race, and dad said they developed from monkeys?” Her mum said, “Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family, and your dad told you about his.”

There are still many arguments and conflicts about belief, even among Christians. However, it is not necessary to argue about which one is right; if you believe in Jesus Christ our Savior, believe in God the Creator and believe in the Holy Spirit, the Helper, that is good enough. The Triune God never changed throughout Christian history. I like the wisdom in the early church. When the disciples preached the Gospel, many people didn’t believe in Jesus. Instead, they persecuted the disciples. Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law (St. Paul’s teacher), said, “So, in the present case, I tell you, keep away these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5: 38-39). If we argue the conflict of belief, it never stops. Instead, everyone gets hurt. So, please don’t try to argue with others who don’t agree with you, but keep your faith in God. And respect others with open hearts and minds.

John Wesley advised if you want to see which one is the truth in God, please use the principle of interpretation, named “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” which includes Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason. Based on the Scripture, you may reflect on things with Church tradition, your experience, and common reason. Read the Scripture daily to grow in your faith because “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16), and “For the Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). And, through the Scripture and prayers, the Holy Spirit may guide you to the right way. However, remember, we all are not perfect, and open minds for God may work among us.

Today’s Scripture shows us how Jesus the Messiah was born. Christians have believed in the Virgin birth for over 2000 years. According to the 2022 Status of Christian Report (Life Way Research), there are about 2.56 billion Christians worldwide. Even though 2.56 billion people believe in the Virgin birth, if you still question Christ’s Virgin birth, it’s fine because you are here before God. Faith begins from doubt. One of the Disciples, Thomas, was a suspect disciple but later became a great believer and missionary. The Virgin birth is not an issue to argue, have faith in God. It is good enough to grow in faith if you believe in God the Creator and the Owner of life and death.

When I was a seminarian, a professor told us, “Don’t worry whether you believe in the Virgin birth because Joseph, Mary’s husband, believed it and accepted her. That’s enough. Don’t argue about it.” When I

heard that, I felt it was a ridiculous joke! But, as we read the Scripture, God knows our human minds and sends an angel to Joseph to tell him the truth. In the Israelite society, if a virgin conceived, it was a big scandal. The husband or the people might suit her, and the elders in the community could judge her as a sinner by stoning her publicly. However, today’s Scripture says, “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” Joseph didn’t want to suit her in public but send her away quietly. At that time, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The angel called Joseph, son of David. He was a descendant of King David. If he was a descendant of King David, he must know the Scripture; Prophet Isiah said, “Look, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us.” Sometimes we can’t match what we know and what we believe. Joseph did so at first, but later after the dream, he recognized that the Messiah would come through the descendant of King David and in the Virgin birth. He took Mary as his wife. I hope we grow in faith enough to see things happen as we believe.

Remember when Jesus heals the sick, he used to say, “Your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34, Luke 17:19, Matthew 9:22). Jesus did not say, “I healed you.” But he said, “your faith has healed you,” or “Your faith made you well.” That is the reality we have to believe. Do not separate your faith from the reality of everyday life. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrew 11:1). Things will happen as you believe. Our confession that we are saved in faith through Jesus Christ by the grace of God has to be true in daily life. Our God is the God who makes the impossible possible. Do not let your God be small. Our God can make the impossible possible. Do not put God into the book of your Bible. God is the Living God, moving around us, in us, and among us, and still working for us.

We all are ordinary human beings, but God is extraordinary. God chose ordinary people and worked with them extraordinarily. Our faith may grow in risk and suspicion. In the first century, the sick were treated like sinners in society. They could not come out to public places. Even though they heard that Jesus might heal them, they needed the courage to come to Jesus. They could have been stoned by people. However, their faith was in hope. Jesus knew that they came to him with courage, and he said, “Your faith has healed you.”

In today’s Scripture, the Virgin Mary was an ordinary woman like us. Angel Gabriel said, “Mary, you have found favor with God. And you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Mary also thought of human things before the angel, saying, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel explained simply, “your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:36-37).
When God chose Mary to bear God’s son, she might have been scared between God’s grace and her society’s reality. She knew that nothing is impossible through God. On the other hand, she knew society must treat her as a sinner. Joseph, her finance might leave her, and she might be stoned. She had to make a deadly decision. She had to have the courage to receive God’s grace. Today, we may need the courage to grow in faith, “Here I am, Lord. Let it be with me.” Things will happen as you believe. Is anyone suspicious of your faith in God? As we lit the candle of love, God’s love may cover all things to be good enough in your everyday life. Thanks be to God. Amen.