The Virgin Birth
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’” (Matt. 1:21—23)
There is no denying that the birth of Jesus through a humble virgin named Mary ranks as a miracle of the first order. At its core, this is true because of the nature of the Incarnation. A miracle by which God himself is incarnated (i.e., made flesh; John 1:1, 14) so that in the one person of Christ, full deity and full humanity are joined in a body (Col. 2:9) cannot be anything but the greatest miracle of all time. As Dr. J.I. Packer writes:
“The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man… It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation [i.e.—faith] lie. ‘The Word was made flesh’ (John 1:14); God became man…the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation….”
Most who object to the Virgin Birth don’t usually swim in such deep waters. Never reaching the unfathomable depths of God and Man in one person, they drown instead in the kiddie pool, wondering how in the world Mary got pregnant in the first place and denying that it could have happened in the way the Bible says it did (Luke 1:34—37). I mean no disrespect. I mean to say that Who the Baby in Mary’s womb is, is an ocean-deep miracle. How he got, there will barely top off the ankles.
And yet, so many fail even to get their faith-feet wet. To many, it seems ridiculous that a virgin could conceive. So they doubt and deny the Christian faith over the logistics of Jesus’s birth. After all, a child could be conceived without two parents is not how it normally happens. Shouldn’t we “follow the science” and admit that this is simply impossible?
But is it? The fact that something doesn’t normally happen doesn’t mean that it can’t have happened. And if—as the evidence strongly suggests—there really is a God, then everything is possible. Actually, everything is easy.
The Big Bang
The Virgin Birth would indeed be impossible if there is no God. But then, the whole universe would be impossible if there is no God, which is why today’s skeptic-unbeliever struggles in vain for consistency. Skeptics who deny that one small Baby could be born without a father are very often the very same ones who assert that the whole universe was born without a Creator. They believe in an uncaused big bang, an explosion of the universe into existence without any eternal, self-existent Creator-God birthing it into existence.
Skeptics fail to realize that to deny the existence of a transcendent Creator God is to believe that ultimately the universe—or, as some would speculate, a very long sequence of universes—came into existence out of nothing; a miracle far more unbelievable than a Virgin Birth would be. In fact, it simply could not happen—for nothing can come into existence out of nothing.
It is entirely beyond the realm of possibility that any universe—never mind this universe with all of its design, beauty, order, majesty, power, wonder, and extravagant goodness—could explode itself into existence out of nothing; with no Mind, Might, or Maker to make it happen. Nothing will produce nothing every time; if nothing existed way back then, nothing would ever exist.
Yet, those who say that the Virgin Birth is impossible will claim that an uncaused big bang is certain. One cannot help but suspect sub-conscious denial in all of this. To reject the Virgin Birth of Christ as an impossibility but then assert the out-of-nothing birth of the universe as a certainty suggests an intellectual/psychological suppression of truth. How could the former be impossible, but the latter be certain—when the first is much simpler and smaller than the second? This seems disingenuous as if people know down deep that God really does exist but would rather deny him than deal with him.
Proof that God Exists
It is impossible that a supreme Creator-God does not exist. Everything, everywhere, and all the time, proves that he does. Faith is not a blind leap despite the evidence but a humble willingness to follow the evidence. The Bible argues for God’s existence from the world’s existence. Christian faith rests on this ultimate apologetic (i.e., defense for its claims): the evidence found in creation and conscience.
- “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psa. 19:1—4).
- “But I ask, have they [i.e., people everywhere] not heard? Indeed, they have, for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world’” (Rom. 10:18; brackets added).
- “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3)!
- “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19—20).
- “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:14—16).
- “In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16—18).
The truth is that the existence of the world proves the existence of God. And the existence of God who made the Cosmos proves the possibility of the Virgin Birth. If the world’s existence proves the Creator’s existence, anything is possible (Luke 1:34—37).
Why It All Happened
So the question is not how the Incarnation could happen, but why did it happen? To this all-important question, Scripture offers many answers. Here are seven wonderful reasons why Christmas ever happened; why God entered the world in Jesus Christ.
- To save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
- To do the Father’s will (in becoming a sacrifice for our sins) through a body given to him (Heb. 10:5—7).
- To proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and a year of Jubilee to all (Luke 4:18—19).
- To call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).
- To be the Mediator between God and Man (1 Tim. 2:5).
- To bring about our adoption into God’s family (Gal 4:4—6).
- To give us abundant (and eternal) life (John 10:10).
O Come Let Us Adore
For more than a millennium, Christians everywhere have affirmed:
We believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth;
We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
For the last couple hundred years, many believers around the world have sung a “creed” of a different sort:
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased as Man with men to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel” (Charles Wesley)
Either way—whether by ancient creed or historic hymn, Christians everywhere have confessed that there is a Creator God who made all that is, and who, about 2,000 years ago, overshadowed Mary with his power in such a way as to create in her virgin womb, a baby who was God in a body. And that Baby has become, and still is, the Savior of the world.
O come, let us adore him, both now and forevermore. Amen.
Tim married Gayline in 1978 and has six grown children and over a dozen grandchildren. A pastor for 38+ years, he currently serves Risen Hope Church, a multi-ethnic congregation in Drexel Hill/Upper Darby, PA. He is the author of the recent Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing book, Respect the Image: Reflecting Human Worth in How We Listen and Talk. He also has written 30/30 Hindsight: 30 Reflections on a 30-Year Headache and Worship Worthy: Alliterative Adoration. To learn more about Tim please his website.