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Intro: John 6:42-45 – 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
- Jesus’ personal identity was always center stage during his ministry. This passage illustrates the available choices that perplexed the Jews. Was Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. If he was then it was absurd for him to claim, as He did, that He had come down out of heaven. But if He did come out of heaven, then He was not Joseph’s son, But God’s Son. Which do you believe?
I. The Bible clearly affirms the virgin birth of Christ. Although the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was born miraculously, there is great resistance to accepting this truth. Some dismiss it on the basis of their rejection of all Bible miracles. Others resist the clear implications of the virgin birth of Christ and evidence of His divinity.
A. The virgin birth in Prophecy:
1. Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” This is the first Messianic prophecy found in Scripture. Note that it says “her seed”. This reference to the seed of a woman is unique. The normal expression is the seed of man. Not overwhelming proof, but a subtle hint for what was to come!
2. Isa 7:13-14 – Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
a. The prophet Isaiah made this prophecy during the reign of Judah’s wicked and idolatrous King Ahaz. The king faced a major military threat from the Israelite king, Pekah; and the Syrian king, Rezin; both of whom wanted to overthrow Ahaz and replace him with a more compliant monarch. Instead of seeking the Lord’s help during that crisis, King Ahaz turned to Tiglath-Pileser, the brutal ruler of the pagan Assyrians. Ahaz even induced their assistance by offering them gold and silver stolen from God’s Temple. Ahaz refused to listen to Isaiah’s report that God would deliver the people from Pekah and Rezin. Therefore the prophet spoke the remarkable prophecy. It was to tell Ahaz that no one would destroy the people of God or the royal line of David. And sure enough, although Tiglath-Pileser destroyed the northern kingdom (Israel), deported its population, and overran Judah four times, God ultimately preserved His people just as He promised.
b. Isaiah also said that before another child (Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz) was very mature or aware of events, the territories of Rezin and Pekah would be abandoned (Isa. 7: 15-16). Again, the prophet’s divinely inspired words were completely accurate. Before the other child, who was born to Isaiah’s wife, was three years old, the two enemy kings were dead. Just as God fulfilled that ancient prophecy about Isaiah’s son, so He was about to fulfill the one concerning the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both were signs from the Lord that He would not abandon His people, but the greatest of the two was obviously the second one: that His Son would actually be born of a virgin, live among His people, and die for their sins.
c. A virgin (Heb., almah) shall conceive and bear a son.
almah, which some contend simply means “a young woman” (NIV) refers to a virgin. “As a matter of fact there is no place among the seven occurrences of ‘almah’ in the Old Testament where the word is clearly used of a woman who was not a virgin.” – J. Gresham Machen,
In the LXX (the Septuagint version of the OT translatedaround 250 B.C.) almah in Isaiah 7:14 is translated by the Greek word parthenos which can only mean a virgin. “The fact that the seventy who were the most eminent Hebrew scholars in the world translated the word ‘virgin’ is sufficient evidence that in this connection the word could have no other meaning.” – Alfred Edersheim, The Life And Times Of Jesus, The Messiah
A young woman bearing a child is not sign; but a virgin bearing a child, whose name was to be called Immanuel (“God with us”)…now that is a sign!
3. Jer 31:22 – How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth — A woman shall encompass a man.” In the promise made to Judah, the Lord would create a new thing in the earth; “A woman shall encompass a man”. The phrase has been variously interpreted, but “The fathers saw in these words a prophecy of the miraculous conception of our Lord by the Virgin” – (Barnes)
B. The Virgin Birth and the Pagan Counterfeits. One of the objections to the virgin birth of Jesus is the charge that it is simply a borrowed concept from the many pagan stories of other world religions of virgin births. “The idea of a supernatural or virgin birth is pagan, and it must have found its way into the story of Jesus through Gentile-Christian channels” (Bundy, p. 11).
1. However there is a vast difference between the biblical record of Christ’s conception and birth, and those alleged “supernatural” births of primitive paganism. Here are some very important points worthy of reflection.
The biblical story contains no bizarre features, such as maidens consorting with the gods, there is no indication whatever in the biblical accounts that Mary had any sort of sexual union — either with God the Father, or with the Holy Spirit. It was simply by the “power” of God that the conception occurred (Lk. 1:35).
The New Testament by writers stood in close historical proximity with the actual birth event. Matthew was one of the Lord’s apostles. And Luke, a physician (Col. 4:14) and first-rate historian, was a companion of Paul. He researched carefully the data regarding Jesus (Lk. 1:3).
In contrast, the story of Buddha’s unusual birth, that is often paralleled with the Jesus, was not circulated until five to ten centuries after Buddha lived.
Even Thomas Boslooper, a modernist who repudiated the historical reality of a literal virgin birth of Christ, conceded: “The literature of the world is prolific with narratives of unusual births, but it contains no precise analogy to the virgin birth in Matthew and Luke. Jesus’ ‘virgin birth’ is not ‘pagan’” (p. 136).
B. The N.T. Account of the Virgin Birth: The OT prophecies are supported in the words of the apostles as they describe Jesus’ birth.
1. Matthew’s account: Matt 1:18-25 – 8 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
a. “she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” Matthew needs only one verse (1: 18) to announce the fact of Christ’s virgin birth. Matthew devotes the previous seventeen verses to Jesus’ human genealogy but just this part of one verse to His divine genealogy. Such a concise statement, though it doesn’t all by itself prove the point, strongly suggests that the notion of our Lord and Savior’s virgin birth was not simply a man-made story. Human authors and the pagan story tellers would need to elaborate.
Matthew clearly points to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words and in his quotation of the prophecy uses the Greek word, parthenos, or virgin. This leaves no doubt that the original prophecy of Isaiah referred to a virgin.
2. Luke 1:26-38 – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
a. Luke also calls Mary a virgin (parthenos) (v. 27). She was to have a child without the benefit of a man. This perplexes her and the angel Gabriel explains “For with God nothing is impossible“. If one believes in God, the concept of a virgin birth is not an impossibility.
3. Gal 4:4-5 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
a. In his epistle to the Galatians Paul wrote of the coming of Christ, and declares that He was “born of a woman”. Notice that Paul never accounts Joseph in Jesus’ genealogy, even when proclaiming that Jesus was of the seed of Abraham and David. He never ascribes the sonship of Jesus to any earthly father, only to God. Yet he has no hesitation ascribing His birth to a woman!
C. The Implications of the Virgin Birth: Scripture gives us little information about Mary and even less about Joseph. Mary was undoubtedly a godly young woman, and Joseph is called a “just man” (Mt. 1: 19). They placed saving trust in the coming Messiah. The Jewish betrothal was binding. The Jews considered the man and the woman legally married even though the formal ceremony and consummation might occur a year later. The purpose of the engagement period was to confirm each partner’s fidelity when the two had little or no social contact with each another. Mary and Joseph faithfully abstained from sexual relations with one another during the engagement period, as the contract required.
1. Their abstinence was in accord with the Bible’s high regard for sexual purity and God’s commands. Thus, Mary’s virginity was an important indicator of her godliness. But Mary’s virginity protected something much more important than her own morality and godly reputation. It ensured the deity of Christ and supported the veracity of His teaching and works as the Son of God.
a. Had Jesus been conceived by natural means, with Joseph or anyone else as His father, He would not have been God and would not have been a true Savior of sinners. Everyone would have remained spiritually dead, condemned forever by their unforgiven sins. But we know that all that is absolutely contrary to what God’s Word teaches. It validated Jesus’ claim to have come down from heaven.
b. Admittedly, His miraculous conception remains impossible to understand by human reason alone. God chose not to explain the details of it to us, as with things such as the trinity and the process of creation. But the event stands at the heart of the identity of Christ as the Son of God.
2. As we read earlier in Matthew 1, as Joseph contemplated his response to the news that Mary was with child, the angel intervened with an explanation of God’s purposes. Matt 1:20-21 – But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning . Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua which means “Jehovah (Yahweh) will save.” Jesus was born in this special way to reflect his unique purpose. He was the son of Mary to connect Him with the human race inorder to be tempted as every man and sympathize with their weakness. But he was not the son of Joseph, so as to indicate He was God, the true Savior. By His own sacrificial death on the Cross and triumphant Resurrection from the grave He would save His own.
You can imagine how great Joseph’s feelings of amazement, relief, and gratitude must have been once he realized what the Lord, through the heavenly messenger, had told him. Not only could he go ahead and gladly take Mary as his wife with honor and righteousness, but also he could rejoice at the privilege of being allowed to bring up God’s own Son. The wedding ceremony of Joseph and Mary likely took place soon after Joseph received the angel’s announcement. Matthew makes it clear that Mary remained a virgin until after Jesus was born, implying that normal marital relations began after that time. That, along with the references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Matt. 12:46; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3), proves Mary was not a virgin for her entire life, as some claim.
Conclusion: Do you believe in the virgin birth? There are many who do not. But consider Paul’s words in Rom 3:3-4 – For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.
- Do you believe in the One was born of a virgin?