“The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call his name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23).
Do you believe in the Virgin Birth?
What difference does it make?
Let’s start with the first question. For almost 2000 years Christians have repeated this phrase from the Apostles Creed: “Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” Although Christians have disagreed on almost everything, here is a truth unanimously affirmed by all branches of the Christian church.
We believe Jesus was born of a virgin.
That forces us to confront what we believe about Jesus Christ. Who is he? Where did he come from? At issue is the supernatural character of our Lord. Is he truly the Son of God from heaven? If you answer yes, you’ll have no problem with the virgin birth. If you answer no, you’ll have no reason to believe it.
Christians make a claim for Jesus that cannot be made for any other person: His life did not begin with his birth or with his conception. Unlike every other human whose beginning can be traced to a specific moment in time, the true life of Jesus Christ had no beginning. Because he is eternal, he existed forever with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This is an utterly supernatural claim that could not be made about anyone else.
Here is another way to state the same truth. For Christ to be our Savior, three conditions must be met:
- He must be a man. An angel could not die for our sins. He must share our humanity.
- He must be an infinite man. A mere mortal could not bear the infinite price that must be paid for our sins.
- He must be an innocent man. A sinner could not die for the sins of others.
Our Lord fulfills all three conditions.
Because he is born of Mary, he is fully human.
Because he is conceived by the Holy Spirit, he is fully God.
Because he is born holy, he is sinless in thought, word, and deed.
Thus, he is fully qualified to be our Savior.
The angel told Joseph to name him Jesus “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). That connects his birth with his saving work on the cross. The virgin birth matters because it tells us who Jesus is and lays the foundation for the great work he will accomplish on the cross.
He had to be born this way to die the way he died.
We are not saved by the virgin birth, but without it we are not saved at all.
Almighty God, may we not stumble in unbelief but believe in your Son, our Savior, born of a virgin, who died for our salvation, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is our coming king. Amen.
Musical bonus: Here’s a new version of a familiar carol. Let’s listen to The First Noel by Point of Grace.