Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Christmastime is an incredible time of the year when families get together in celebration of goodwill, gift-giving and family. The holidays during this season are some of the busiest and costliest, and the sad reality is that as it was when Jesus came to earth, the Saviour of the world is largely ignored and unnoticed throughout the holidays today, even though they bear His name.
The birth of Jesus is the opening chapter of Satan’s defeat. Jesus is the seed of the woman that will crush the serpents head as God foretold in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Christmastime is, in actuality, a reminder that God’s Son came to deal with the separation of mankind from God because of our bondage to sin. Jesus, God’s Son, accomplished this by living a sinless, perfect life as a man and by sacrificing Himself for us in death and taking the penalty of our sin in our place. The circumstances of Jesus’ coming to earth are fascinating and miraculous to be certain, being born of a virgin. But why was a virgin birth necessary? The whole truth of Scripture hangs on the virgin birth being true, for without that, Jesus’ many other truth claims are under scrutiny, and Mary becomes a woman of poor character and loose morals.
An angel is sent to inform Mary that she will conceive in her womb and bear a Son named Jesus. Mary knew this was extraordinary and Joseph knew that women don’t become pregnant apart from a man as evidenced by the fact that he was going to put her away privately for her pregnancy. Mary and Joseph and everyone else knew that babies come from a specific union. There have been billions of people who have been born and have died since the creation of the world (some estimates state that there may be 200-250 billion people since the creation of mankind) but all are the “seed of a man”—that is, all were conceived through the union of a man and a woman. Jesus is the only baby born through supernatural intervention, conceived without a man.
So why did Christ need to be born of a virgin?
First, a virgin conception and birth have God’s fingerprints on it. It is impossible, humanly speaking, to conceive a child without both a man and a woman. Mary also realized this when she asked in Luke 1:34, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” This was not going to happen after she married Joseph, but rather, this would be an immediate conception while she was still a virgin.
Secondly, this plan was God’s initiative. God did not conspire with Mary but instead told her of favour in God’s eyes (verse 30) and laid out the plan without being asked for her willingness or submission.
Thirdly, mankind’s saviour could not be a sinful human. Jesus was as human as we in His experiences according to Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
He was tempted as we were. He was limited in His physical abilities, being prone to fatigue and exhaustion, and able to feel our emotions and pain. All of these experiences qualify Him to be our Savior and Advocate. The degree of our experience as humans in all situations varies from person to person, but sin and it’s occasion to be trapped by it is common from man to man (1 Cor. 10:13). Jesus was not excluded from temptation by some divine protection but “was tempted in all points” as we are, yet without sin. As necessary as the full human experience was for Jesus, it is worth noting that He was not conceived as every other human. The Saviour of mankind needed to step in from outside of the human race, since we could not produce our own saviour.