Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have received in my ministry over the years and via email for this column.
Dear father Paul: Why was Mary being a virgin so important? I don’t get it. — Susan
Dear Susan: In order for Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross to be effective and acceptable to God, the sacrificial lamb itself (Jesus) had to be perfect and without fault or blemish. This was required under Jewish law of any sacrifice made to God.
That meant that Jesus had to be without sin ... in other words a perfect sacrifice. Not only could Jesus have never sinned in his entire life, but also he had to have been born without the stain of sin which the Bible teaches comes upon every human born after Adam and Eve first sinned in the Garden of Eden.
Jewish Law teaches that the stain of sin (our imperfection) is passed to each of us through our fathers ... Romans 5:12. (NIV) With this in mind, it was an absolute necessity that Jesus have no human father. In Luke chapter 1 when the archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to bear the Messiah, she asked a perfectly logical question ... “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel answered Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
This scripture passage tells us that Jesus, while fully human, had no earthly father. His father was God. His mother was a virgin ... thus he was born with no sin nature. The transmission of sin was circumvented and Jesus was born (as was required) a perfect sinless man. Had these requirements not been met to the letter, Jesus’s death on the cross would not have been acceptable to God and mankind would have no hope.
Dear Father Paul: What did Jesus look like? — H.J.
Dear H.J. The short answer is that nobody knows for sure.
The only clue we are given in the Bible and the closest the Bible comes to a physical description of Jesus is in Isaiah 53:2: ”He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (NIV)
From this description we can surmise that Jesus was ordinary looking. He looked like other men.
So most of the paintings and renderings of Jesus’s likeness from the early days of the church down to today are probably not accurate. I think that if it was important to God himself for us to know what Jesus looked like, then those who walked and lived with him for three years then later wrote about their experiences with Jesus in the Bible, would have surely told us what he looked like. But men like Matthew, Peter and John simply did not.
Special to “Angie” (you told me Angie is not your real name): You say you have “tried everything” for your situation, but I discern that you have not tried God as he wants you to. Please ponder and reflect on Psalm 37:4, then actualize this simple truth in your life: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV) This is a promise from God himself, but it is conditional on our actions.
Do you have a question? Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your question in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is a spirit-filled, sacramental congregation where Jesus is Lord. You are cordially invited to worship with us this coming Sunday. More information on the church, worship times, directions and pod-casts of Father Paul’s Sunday messages are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com