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And You Believe That?

December 10, 2014

If you’ve ever been challenged in your beliefs as a follower of Christ, you understand that there are some things…some truths…that we hold to that are hard to defend apart from the Bible. I once had someone come to me…with extreme condescension…and say, “So you’re telling me that you believe that a child was born of a virgin, and that the child in question was actually the Creator of the universe and everything in it, and you believe that child grew to be a man who was wrongfully convicted, put to death, and then resurrected from the dead and ascended up into heaven?” And my response was simply, “Yes, yes I do.”

But you see where it all starts in the question. He didn’t begin with the creation of the earth. He didn’t ask my thoughts on naturalistic evolution vs. creationism. He didn’t ask my views on abortion or homosexuality. No…he began with the virgin birth. And the reason he began there is because regardless of anything else in nature, or in ethics, or anything else in the realm of our existence, we know…we absolutely know…that virgins do not have babies. And yet…this is exactly what I believe happened.

You see that guy understood that everything upon which we base our hope, our peace, and our salvation on hinges on the reality…the truth…that Jesus was born of a virgin. If you read through Matthew 1:18-25, you’ll see where it is specifically stated, “before they came together (Mary and Joseph) she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” Over in Luke 1, we see an angel coming to her and telling her what was going on. And Mary, for her part, isn’t convinced. It says in Luke 1:29, “But she was greatly troubled and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” So she wasn’t totally on board at first. You see, we need to forget the idea that Mary thought it was normal for an angel to come and give her any news…much less news that she was going to have a baby while she was a virgin.

Later, she actually asks in verse 34, “How will this be, since I am a virgin.” I love this scene because it’s almost like Mary is trying to remind Gabriel that she can’t be a mother yet. She’s almost like, “Maybe you didn’t know…but I’m a virgin.” So after accepting the reality that an actual angel of the Lord is speaking to her, she still has some doubts about whether the angel knows what he’s talking about. Joseph is equally concerned. We’re told in Matthew 1:19 that “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” So he wasn’t thrilled with the revelation that Mary was with child. He knew that he didn’t have anything to do with it. And he understood the cultural stigmas and prejudices that were certainly headed their way because of what would be perceived as an illegitimate child.

Both Mary and Joseph demonstrate responses that I think are perfectly in line with how we might expect an actual person to respond to such a saying as this. And that is because…quite simply…they are actual people. In this story, we get an accurate depiction of how real people respond to news that seems unreal. So Mary and Joseph really aren’t that different than you and I. And it’s amazing to think about how God used them…normal people…for the sake of His redemptive purpose.

Make no mistake about it…the dependability of the Bible is at stake with the virgin birth. The person of Christ…the Messiah (anointed one) is at stake with the virgin birth. And our salvation is at stake with the virgin birth.

Later in the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus had walked the earth for some time, he asked His disciples who people were saying He was. They said to Him, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” And in Matthew 16:15-16 we read, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16 Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

What a beautiful testimony. Different people land on different ideas when it comes to the virgin birth. The question for us is where do you land? And it’s an important question.whatchildisthis_plain

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 10, 2014 2:39 pm

    Great commentary on a great story. I also often think about how these “normal” people handled this situation. And what was Mary’s response when the morning sickness started or when she started showing? Was it, “Wow. That angel guy was really right. What do you know.” Or was it, “Yup. I knew this was coming.” The text seems to indicate the latter, but it took great faith. And where do I land you ask? I’m with you. Yes. Yes, I believe. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

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