What are the odds surrounding Jesus Christ? Who was this child really?
Recently I purchased a book entitled What the Odds Are. It's an A-Z collection of the odds on "everything you ever hoped or feared could happen".
For instance, did you know that the odds of your being injured by a lightning strike on any given day are only 1 in 250 million, but over the average lifetime are 1 in 9,100? In contrast, the odds that the average citizen of Washington, D.C. will get "plugged, stabbed, poisoned, or bludgeoned to death" in the course of a year are only 1 in 1,681!
One in 10 Americans read the Bible daily. One in two eat out somewhere every single day of the week--1 in 20 at McDonald's. In Sweden, 40 of every one hundred persons are senior citizens; in Fiji, only 1 in 50. And here's one that really amazed me: 1 in every 24 Americans has membership in the National Geographic Society. I guess it figures, though, because I noticed recently that a staggering 9,975,558 average copies of the National Geographic magazine are printed by the Society every month (including those intended for international distribution).
If you still happen to be unconvinced that the baby born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was anything more than just an ordinary human baby, let me challenge you with a few of “the odds” in that regard.
To begin with, did you know that the Old Testament prophet Micah, writing circa 700 B.C., out of the hundreds and hundreds of cities in the scores and scores of nations in existence all over the world even in those days, designated Bethlehem of Judea as the birthplace of the Messiah (Micah 5:2)?
Or that a prophecy made in 1012 B.C. specified that the Messiah's hands and feet would eventually be pierced--a clear reference to death by crucifixion--800 years before the Romans ever even instituted crucifixion as a form of capital punishment!
Well, if all this impresses you even a little bit, you ought to go compare Zechariah 11:11-13 (written over 500 years before Christ) to Matthew 27:3-10 (written some 25-30 years after Christ). Only coincidence?
A number of years ago, Peter W. Stoner and Robert C. Newman wrote a book entitled Science Speaks. The book was based on the science of probability and vouched for by the American Scientific Affiliation. It set out the odds of any one man in all of history fulfilling even only eight of the 60 major prophecies (and 270 ramifications) fulfilled by the life of Christ.
The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight such prophecies would be only 1 in 1017. That's 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.
Stoner claims that that many silver dollars would be enough to cover the face of the entire state of Texas two feet deep. Now I've been to Texas. I've driven for days to get across Texas. Texas is a very big state. Who in his right mind would suppose that a blindfolded man, heading out of Dallas by foot in any direction, would be able, on his very first attempt, to pick up one specifically marked silver dollar out of 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000?
One March several years ago I received a paper from United States Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson. In it he wrote:
“The fact is, the birth, crucifixion, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ are celebrated worldwide by folk of every race, language, and color, every year. And believing in Jesus, they have been delivered from the most evil, disastrous, frustrating, debilitating habits and life forms possible. The real problem with Jesus Christ is not that folk can't believe in Him—but that they won't believe in Him.”
My friend, in all honesty, what are the chances you've not been altogether objective about the nature of the baby born in Bethlehem? What if the baby was God? What if He is God? What if you are to submit your life to Him?
References: Les Krantz, What the Odds Are (HarperPerennial, 1992).
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Author: Daryl E. Witmer of AIIA Institute. Also published in Areopagus Proclamation, Vol. 4, No. 3.
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