Much attention is drawn to Jesus’ birth during the Christmas season. It is mentioned in Christmas songs and portrayed in nativity scenes. These scenes are placed on lawns and in houses, and some churches even perform live nativities! Many sermons are preached from the opening chapters of Matthew and Luke. It is right for us to give so much attention to Jesus’ birth at this time of year – it is, after all, the reason we celebrate the holiday!
But not everyone feels this way. Some do not celebrate Jesus’ birth and do not think it is worth celebrating. This is because they reject the Bible’s claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. They object, “That’s impossible! What sort of idiot would believe that?” This makes some Christians feel pressured to compromise their beliefs. But the virgin birth is the foundation of Jesus’ life and ministry as the Son of God, and cannot be compromised.
Here are two lines of evidence that support belief in the virgin birth:
The Evidence of Prophecy
Matthew and Luke both affirm that Jesus’ mother Mary was a virgin at the time of His conception. Matthew says she became pregnant before she and Joseph “came together” (Matthew 1:18). Luke says, “God sent the angel Gabriel…to a virgin…the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26-27). What is more, Matthew declares that this fulfills an important Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 1:22-23).
Isaiah spoke of Jesus’ birth over 700 years before he was born. He predicts, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The Hebrew word “virgin” indicates a young, unmarried woman. Such a pregnancy can only constitute a miraculous “sign” if the young woman has not yet had sex. And the Greek word “virgin” used by Matthew and Luke undeniably means a virgin.
Isaiah predicts that a virgin will give birth to a son, and Matthew asserts that Jesus’ birth fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy. This is strong evidence for the virgin birth.
The Evidence of a Supernatural Life
After His supernatural birth, Jesus went on to lead a supernatural life. He controlled nature, cast out demons, healed illnesses, raised the dead, knew men’s thoughts, taught lessons from God, and predicted the future. His life ended as supernaturally as it began with His resurrection and ascension. Is this not the sort of life you would expect from someone born of a virgin? Wouldn’t you expect their life to be supernatural and miraculous?
Are You Serious?
You might be thinking, “Do you really expect me to believe this? All you did was use the Bible to prove the Bible!” And you’re right. But let me make a few points in response. First, the Bible is the most reliable book ever written. It is legitimate to treat its authors as independent sources and to trust the Gospels as eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life. Second, the virgin birth is possible if God exists. Allowing for the supernatural opens up the possibility of prophecy and miracles!
Mary and Joseph weren’t stupid. They knew that virgins don’t have babies! That’s why Mary asked the angel, “How can this be…since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). That’s also why Joseph assumed Mary’s unfaithfulness and “had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19). What changed their minds? The angel’s response: “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). There is evidence to support the virgin birth if you are willing to believe it.
(Over the next few months, I will write more about God’s existence and the Bible’s reliability. If you are interested, subscribe to my blog via e-mail to automatically receive new posts.)
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