“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (Matthew 1:20,21,24)
Can you imagine the reaction as people from Nazareth listened to Joseph tell his story? No, he wasn’t going to divorce Mary. Yes, he remained committed to her. She hadn’t been unfaithful after all! Her pregnancy was a miracle! The child in her womb had been conceived by the Holy Spirit! An angel told him!
Believing in the virgin birth
Were there looks of pity in the eyes of Joseph’s friends as they walked away? Did they shake their heads in disbelief? Did they think to themselves, “Joseph might be a good carpenter, but how can he be such a fool? Everyone knows how a woman gets pregnant. Mary must have cheated on him.”
Despite what others may have thought, Joseph believed. He believed, not because he was delusional or a romantic fool. Joseph believed, not because the angel’s message made logical sense. Joseph believed because the same Holy Spirit who caused Mary to conceive had created faith in his heart.
People today still shake their heads in disbelief at Christians who confess that a virgin gave birth to a son in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. The proud human mind sits in judgment over God’s message and declares, “It just doesn’t make sense. You’d have to be a fool to believe that ancient myth.”
Yet, contrary to all logic, we continue to proclaim each Christmas that a virgin gave birth. We believe, not because it makes sense. We believe because God has spoken to us through the pages of Holy Scripture. We believe because the Holy Spirit has worked the miracle of faith in our hearts too.
Believing in our Savior
We also believe the most astonishing part of the angel’s message. The real mystery is not the virgin birth itself. The truly incredible revelation in the angel’s message is found in the child himself, the son who was to be given the name Jesus.
Why should the holy God care about a world of sinful people who rebel against him? Why would Jesus, true God, humble himself and be born into a world that despises and rejects him? Why would Jesus willingly live under the law knowing that his whole life on earth was leading to the agony of the cross? Would God really do all that to save people from sin? It just doesn’t make sense! But it’s true! Jesus did come to save people from sin! Jesus came to save you and me from sin. Our Christmas hope and joy is wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.
Let the rest of the world scoff at our celebration of Christmas. Let people shake their heads and call us fools. We acknowledge that the Christmas story is incredible, but we also know that it’s true. We have God’s word on it. A virgin did give birth to a son. His name is Jesus. Jesus is our Joy. Jesus is our Peace. Jesus is the One who came from the Father, full of grace and truth!
Author: Michael A. Woldt
Volume 102, Number 12
Issue: December 2015