“The Lord will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us).” Isaiah 7:14
A Most Important Question
Larry King of CNN fame was once asked, “Who would you have most liked to have interviewed in human history and what would you ask them?” Without hesitating at all, he answered, “Jesus of Nazareth, and I would ask Him, ‘Were You born of a virgin?'” He went on to say that the answer to this question is the most important in history.
Humanity’s greatest need is atonement and for that we need a sacrifice that is acceptable to God, one that is flawless and perfect. Only a perfect sacrifice is acceptable in God’s sight. That is why Mr. King’s question reveals a profound insight. If Jesus was born of a virgin, He is the Son of God; if not, he is just a man like us, and not able to provide us with redemption. If Joseph was Jesus’ real father after all, then all of Christ’s claims lie in shambles and ruins. Jesus would have been born with a sin nature just like ours, and even if He had lived a perfect sin-free life, would be in no state to be the spotless Lamb without blemish, and if that is true, He would be in no position to atone for his own sins, let alone someone else’s.
Each Christmas we hear the story about angels and shepherds, of wise men and strange sightings of a star, of a donkey, and of the Child that was laid in a stable manger. Yet the actual birth of Jesus, though highly unusual, was not entirely unique. Of course, not everyone is born to the sight of a star moving and coming to rest overhead, or to the sound of angelic announcements and trumpet blasts! Yet it is true to say that many children have been born in humble surroundings. Therefore, it was the manner in which Jesus was conceived that marks Him out from others. The doctrine of the Virgin Birth holds that Jesus’ birth was the result of a miraculous conception whereby the Virgin Mary conceived a baby in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, without a human father. Christ’s miraculous birth tells us much about His nature. Because He was born of a woman, He was indeed human, and therefore, one of us. That is, one of us in every way, except one. We are born with original sin and Christ was not.
The miracle of the Virgin Birth reveals Christ’s perfect humanity and also points us to His majestic Deity. Notice that the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary includes the statement that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).
Of course, in the ordinary course of nature, a virgin birth is impossible. But the angel Gabriel finishes his announcement to Mary by saying, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
The Importance of the Supernatural
Christianity is supernatural or it is nothing. It is based, not simply on Christ’s teaching, miracles or morals, but on the Person of Christ Himself. Jesus Himself states that the revelation that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” is the bedrock upon which His Church is to be built, a Church which all the powers of hell cannot thwart (Matt. 16:18). Those who do not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin usually do not believe that Jesus is the true Son of God. Yet the message of Christmas is that God has sent His Son, born of a virgin, into our world, to save His people from their sins.
The virgin birth of Christ testifies to His Deity, setting Him apart from all others. It is therefore appropriate that He should be born in this way, since He was not implicated in sin, like all others since the Fall. Mary was not an exception in this respect, any more than David or Peter, though her sins are not recorded as theirs were. Through His death, Jesus became her Savior and the Savior of all those who would believe in Him.