And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 2:30-37)
Luke was not one of the disciples who walked with Jesus during His three years of earthly ministry. For that reason, Luke carefully investigated everything before writing his Gospel. (Luke 1:1-4) His description of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus make it likely his investigation included a personal interview of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
It is in Luke that we learn Mary was a virgin, although betrothed; that she conceived a son in her womb through the Holy Spirit while still a virgin; and that the father of this son was not a man but instead, “the Most High” God we have come to know as the heavenly Father. (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20)
Another Gospel, Matthew, verifies these facts from the perspective of Joseph, the man betrothed to Mary. (Matthew 1:16-25) Both John and Paul then expand upon our understanding of this miraculous birth with their explanations that God the Son – the Word through whom all things were created – emptied Himself so He could be born in human form and dwell among us. (John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:4-11) Wow!
While the majority of professing Christians in America today still believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, the numbers are steadily declining. The number of Christians who believe Jesus is God the Son, who existed prior to His human birth, has declined even more. And, most troubling to me, few people seem to care about this erosion of faith. Why?
As humanity has moved through the 18th century Ages of Reason and Romanticism to the Industrial Revolution and our present Age of Information, we have given ever-increasing preeminence to human reason, human experience, and science as the highest forms of knowledge. We tend to view the concept of divine revelation from God as primitive and outdated, and in the absence of divine revelation, a virgin birth sounds like an impossibility.
I offer four reasons why every Christian should believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.
First, Luke and Matthew clearly present their descriptions of these events as historical fact, not as myth or metaphor. If, based on our reason and experience, we determine that a virgin birth cannot and did not occur, then we are classifying these scriptures as fabrications and not fact– something “made up.” The Bible says God has inspired all scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) When we choose to determine for ourselves what portions of scripture to believe and not believe, we become the ones who are really “making it up”. The clay shapes the Potter into the image of the clay rather than the other way around. (Exodus 20:4; Isaiah 29:16, 64:8)
Second, the heart of the Gospel is the sacrifice of the sinless and unblemished Lamb of God for our sins. (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:11-15) No person born of man and woman could qualify because all sin and fall short. (Romans 3:21) A sinless Father and a virgin womb impregnated by the power of the Holy Spirit was the only way.
Third, our faith in the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus prepares us for our faith in the miraculous births that follow. Before the resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, He told His disciples the Holy Spirit would “come upon” them, using the same words that Gabriel used when he explained how Mary would conceive. (Acts 1:8)
When we receive the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus, we are “born again,” “born of the Spirit,” and “born of God,” becoming children of God and new creations. (John 1:12-13, 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus, the only begotten and firstborn, now joined by millions of sisters and brothers. (John 3:16; Romans 8:29) Wow!
Fourth, as Gabriel declared to Mary, “… nothing will be impossible with God”!
Every time you see a nativity scene this Christmas season, remember: the mother at the manger was a virgin.
Have a blessed and merry Christmas!