The Powerball Lottery has received a lot of news coverage this past week. As of this writing, the jackpot has amassed over a billion dollars! It is expected to be over 1.5 billion dollars by the next time the numbers are drawn! Perhaps a winner may have already been declared by the time you read this. And if someone was lucky enough to pick the six numbers needed to win the jackpot, they did so by overcoming seemingly incredible odds. The chance of winning the Powerball Jackpot is 1 in 292 million. To put that in perspective, you have a 1 in 164,968 chance of being struck and killed by a lightning strike. You have a 1 in 1,113 chance of dying by drowning. Combine those unlikely events and you have a 1 in 183 million chance of being struck by lightning while drowning! I am not sure how mathematicians come up with these figures, but the way the weather has been behaving with this latest winter El Nino, those odds might be much higher! The bottom line is, that more than likely, you, nor anyone you know, is ever going to win the lottery.
When we think about the probability of Jesus being the son of God and the Bible being true, we look at the the prophecies regarding Christ. Jesus is said to have fulfilled some 300 Old Testament prophecies. The odds of him randomly fulfilling just eight of the sixty major prophecies was calculated to be 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That’s 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000! This was according to Peter Stoner and Robert C. Newman who co-authored the book, Science Speaks. When teaching youth Sunday school, the late Dave Leach liked to use the Infinite Monkey Theorem as an illustration to make his point. The odds would be greater for a room full of monkeys on typewriters to hammer out the complete works of William Shakespeare or the Bible, than for Jesus to fulfill just eight of the Old Testament prophecies! I know the monkeys of today have better tools than typewriters. I use spell check quite a bit myself, but I don’t think those monkeys could do much better today if we expected them to type out Hamlet on an Apple or a PC. Either we assume that Jesus was a pretty lucky guy who overcame those kind of odds, or we believe he is the actual Son of God.
Part of the difficulty people have in believing the Bible today, is that the scriptures are so seemingly old and difficult to understand. The Lifetree Small Group topic for this week titled, "The Bible: Real? Relevant? Reliable?" features a filmed interview with Eugene Peterson, author of the best-selling paraphrase of the Bible called The Message. According to Peterson, people in his church "knew the Bible really well, but all they wanted to do was study it. After a few years of that, I thought they're not living any differently." Peterson’s paraphrase has made it easier for contemporary Christians to apply the Bible to their lives, but not without controversy. What do you think? You are invited to join the conversation this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in the Crossing Youth room to talk about it. Connect with others and enjoy fellowship. While you are at it, invite a friend or two. The odds are great that they may want to come too!