The Virgin Birth

Matthew begins the story of Christmas with the way Jesus was born (Matt. 1:18–25). The story is told from Joseph’s perspective and it provides evidence of the unique circumstances of Jesus’s birth. The fact that Joseph was resolved to divorce Mary quietly, showed that Mary had conceived Jesus without Joseph’s involvement.

The Scriptures reveal that this pregnancy occurred through supernatural conception. The account of the virgin birth or more correctly termed “virgin conception”, has been a source of much embarrassment to those who find it difficult to explain the reason for its existence in the New Testament. We live in a naturalistic world, where all reality must be explained through science or it cannot possibly be real.

And yet, the virgin birth is one of the core doctrines of the Christian church. It is found in the Apostle’s Creed, which is a confession that dates back to the 2nd century. According to tradition, it was written by the apostles after Pentecost and it remains the core teachings of historic Christianity. Why then is the virgin birth an important doctrine?

It is important because it highlights the unique person of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1:22-23, the angel told Joseph that Jesus shall be called Immanuel or “God with us”. This revealed that Jesus is not just a man, but God as well. God who knows what it is like to live as a human being. The second person of the Trinity is to put on a human nature and be born as the God-man with a human body and soul. This could only be done by the work of God alone, in order to show that humanity cannot rescue itself from the consequences of sin.  

If the virgin birth did not happen, Jesus would not have the ability to accomplish what He came to do. In 1 Corinthians 15:45–47, Paul describes Christ as the “second man” in contrast to Adam, who is the “first man”. Christ is also referred to as the “last Adam”. This indirectly reaffirms that Jesus, like Adam, was created directly by God and not through human procreation.

However, unlike Adam, Jesus never sinned. This allows Him to replace the “first man” as the better source or root of humanity. Therefore, through the virgin birth, Jesus Christ restores us from the original ruin that came upon us when Adam sinned. He is truly the best gift God has given to us.

Dn. Mervin Lin