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Please explain: Why is the virgin birth of Christ important?

Why is the virgin birth of Christ such an important teaching of the Bible?

In Christian churches throughout the world, the virgin birth of Christ is proclaimed every year at Christmas. When the pastor reads or little children recite the words of the prophet in Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,” this truth is brought back into peoples’ minds. But even throughout the rest of the church year, this same truth is spoken in unity by congregations when their members say in the Apostles’ Creed, “Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” or in the Nicene Creed, “Was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.” The virgin birth is a central teaching of the Christian faith.

But have you ever considered the theological importance of Jesus being born of the virgin Mary?

Jesus is true God

The two words—virgin birth—by themselves are an oxymoron. They don’t belong together! Like the phrases “organized chaos” or “deafening silence,” those two words contradict each other. But in the case of Mary and Jesus’ birth, they are not contradictory.

How can this be so? It is only through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, she had the same question of how this could be so. Gabriel explained that the cause of this miracle would be the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come on 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” (Luke 1:35).

God is not bound by the laws of nature because he is the author and creator of them. Because God told the virgin Mary that she would also be a mother, it would be exactly as God said. “No word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37). This fact alone has tremendous theological implications. Because God transcended the laws of nature here and kept his word, you can have the same confidence in all of God’s promises. When he says you have been adopted into God’s family and receive the full rights as an heir through your baptism, it is so because God said so. When Jesus says that his very own body and blood are present in the Lord’s Supper, they really are because God said it. When God assures you that your sins are forgiven for the sake of his Son Jesus, your sins are removed because God said they are. When God gives you the hope of the resurrection after death, it is your guarantee because that is God’s promise.

Gabriel also told Mary that because Jesus’ birth would be through the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit, he would be the Holy One, the Son of God. Since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, not a single person has been able to keep the law perfectly and be called holy on his or her own account. But Jesus was. Since he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born without sin, and he obeyed the Father’s will throughout his life. Jesus did this as the substitute for sinful people, since the world was hopeless to do it on its own. Only God could save the world from its sin. Through the virgin birth, God became man.

Jesus is true man

Some people reject the teachings of Christianity in part because of this idea that Jesus could be both true God and true man. Since God is omnipresent and all-powerful, it seems incomprehensible that God could be contained as human. However, it was not only the Holy Spirit who was a part of the birth of Christ, but also Mary. And so Jesus is also true man.

Galatians 4:4,5 states, “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” This demonstrates another reason that the virgin birth is theologically significant. Because of Jesus’ real, biological, and earthly mother Mary, the Giver of the law subjected himself to the law and fulfilled it perfectly for your sake and mine. The One who created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him took his own first breath as a small child so that he could redeem sinners. Jesus took on flesh so that he could perish in the flesh, so that your flesh and mine, which are subject to death and decay, might have the living and certain hope of life after death.

In addition to underscoring Jesus’ humanity, the virgin birth demonstrates the Lord’s willingness to humble himself for your sake. The all-powerful God and Creator of life was willing to allow himself to be dependent on his mother’s care for his own survival. Such humility to set aside his heavenly throne and choose a manger and his mother’s arms as his resting place! Beyond that, the implication of being born to the unwed Mary must have been met with skepticism that his birth was through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit and not indecency. But all this Jesus would willingly take upon himself to accomplish your salvation. The virgin birth demonstrates that Jesus is true man, yes, but it also demonstrates his boundless love and his unending desire to save sinners.

Jesus is the promised one

Since God’s first promise in the Garden of Eden that he would send a Savior from the offspring of Eve (Genesis 3:15), believers had longed for and searched for the one who would fulfill that promise. But how would they know who that Savior would be? Some have speculated from the Hebrew text of Genesis 4:1 that Eve, after giving birth to Cain, may have thought that this son was the fulfillment of that promise. But sadly, he was not. Instead, he was a clear demonstration of how sin had corrupted the human race. Through the years and through the prophets, God gave more and more details about how people would identify that Savior. He would be born in Bethlehem from the line of David (Micah 5:2; 2 Samuel 7:12,13). He would heal the sick and make the blind see (Isaiah 35:5,6). But perhaps the clearest prophecy came from the mouth of Isaiah when he said, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son” (Isaiah 7:14).

The virgin birth demonstrates that Jesus is true man, yes, but it also demonstrates his boundless love and his unending desire to save sinners.

Many children were born in Bethlehem. God had given his prophets in the past the ability to perform miracles. Jesus is the only one in the history of the world to be born of a virgin. The virgin birth completed this prophecy and was just the beginning of all the prophecies that Jesus would fulfill.

While there are many significant theological implications of the virgin birth, this miraculous birth also signaled to all the world that, beyond a doubt, Jesus is the one who was promised. Salvation is found in no one else. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Author: Nicolas Schmoller
Volume 110, Number 12
Issue: December 2023

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This entry is part 1 of 53 in the series please explain

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