By Elaine Knudtson
“I Believe” sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
The stories of Jesus compete with the secular myths of Christmas. Separating truth from fiction isn’t always easy. None of us have been visited by angels or witnessed miracles, or heard a voice on the mountain, but we rely on those who were present as eyewitnesses during Jesus’s day. The proof of the validity of their testimony is in the lives that have been changed in those who have taken the leap of faith and responded with, “I believe.”
Dear Lord, we come by faith to your manger, embracing the story of the incarnation. We experience truth through the words of scripture that have been passed down to us through the centuries. Your Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and creates faith where there is doubt. Help our unbelief.
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matt. 11:5-6
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. . . But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” Isa. 35:5-6, 9-10.
“Miracle on 34th Street” is a classic Christmas movie that tells the story of a department store Santa who believes he’s the real Santa Claus. A young girl and her mother turn from skepticism to faith as they witness the transformation Santa brings to the lives of people he encounters. In the final scene, Santa is on trial, but just before the final verdict is read, hundreds of letters are delivered to the courtroom addressed to Santa Claus from children who believe in him, proving that he is, indeed, the real Santa Claus. While this fictional account is heart-warming, it is based on a whimsical imagination and anyone watching the movie suspends belief for a few hours as they enter into the spirit of the season.
Jesus is no fairy tale. The story of Christmas is a continuation of God’s work throughout history. However, the response is similar: some accept the message, others turn away in disbelief. Even John the Baptist had doubts after he was thrown into prison. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one, or shall we look for another?” Jesus responds with words from the prophet Isaiah: “Tell John that the eyes of the blind are opened, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the poor have good news preached to them.”
Nothing will convince those who are deaf and blind to the work of God. God will not force anyone to believe. He presents himself through scripture and the testimony of those who have experienced his love and presence down through the centuries. It is an act of faith to accept their words as true. Lord I believe; help my unbelief.
Points to Ponder
- Is it important for the story to be true for you to believe in its power?
- How does the link between the prophecies in the Old Testament and the acts of Jesus in the New Testament lend validity to the story?
Dear Lord, we must accept the word of others concerning matters of faith. We rely on the words of scripture passed on to us by eyewitnesses and church fathers throughout the centuries. Ultimately, we must either accept or deny the truth of the gospel. Give us the faith to believe when doubts arise. Invite us to come, once again, and hear the story anew.