Sunday Sermon: ‘The Virgin Birth of Christ’

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Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Who is Jesus Christ? Almost every major religion in the world agrees that Jesus was a good man and a teacher of morals. Yet the Bible tells us that Jesus was much more than this. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is God.

Consider these passages of scripture:

  • “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)
  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
  • “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” (Philippians 2:6)
  • “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever…” (Hebrews 1:8)
  • I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

Scripture teaches us that Jesus is the second member of the Godhead which is often referred to as the Trinity. He is the Son of God who was sent to this earth in order to die for the sins of mankind. (see John 3:16-17) He is Emmanuel. He is God with us.

One of the great mysteries surrounding the person called Jesus is His supernatural birth.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Why is the virgin birth so important to identifying Jesus?

I. The Miracle of the Virgin Birth

Many skeptics struggle with the teaching of a virgin birth. To them it is foolishness to believe that it is possible for a virgin to conceive and give birth to a child. Indeed it is a biological impossibility and therefore perhaps one of God’s greatest miracles.

Others believe that it is irrelevant. They see no need to go out on a limb and claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. Yet the Bible teaches us that the virgin birth is a vital part of our salvation. Without the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, there would be no perfect sacrifice for our sins, and thus no forgiveness by God.

A. The Betrothal of Joseph and Mary

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

The Jewish betrothal meant everything we find today in an engagement, and much, much more. For one thing, it was a covenant agreement. So sacred was this covenant that it could be dissolved only with a divorce. That is what is meant when it says that Joseph considered putting Mary away privately. According to the Law of Moses, Mary could have been stoned to death for her unfaithfulness. (see Deut 22:23-24) Yet because Joseph was a just man and no doubt loved Mary, he decided to divorce her privately.

But then something amazing happened. Joseph had an encounter with an angel.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The angel revealed to Joseph that Mary was still a virgin.

Many scoff at the notion that Jesus was born of a virgin. Those who try to deny the miraculous birth of Christ claim that the word ‘virgin’ should be translated as ‘young maiden.’ Yet, according to Bible teacher and author Warren Wiersbe, “The word translated virgin in this verse always means virgin and cannot be translated “young woman.”  (Commentary- Be Loyal)

In addition to the many Christians today who believe and teach the virgin birth, scripture provides for us two undeniable witnesses:

1. Witness #1 – Joseph

Attorney – “Your honor, I call as my first witness the man called Joseph.” “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

Joseph – “I do.”

Attorney – “Sir, is it not true that when you first discovered that your betrothed was pregnant, your intention was to divorce her?”

Joseph – “Yes, according to Jewish law, I could have exposed her publicly and thus have her stoned to death, or I could have chosen to annul the marriage agreement with a divorce.”

Attorney – “Why did you not do this? Was it because this was actually your child?”

Joseph – “It wasn’t my child. Mary and I had never had sexual relations and therefore I knew for a fact that this was not my child.”

Attorney – “Can you then please explain to this court why you did not act according to your Jewish law? Did you suddenly decide to go against your religious upbringing and adherence to the Law of Moses?”

Joseph – “If you will ask those in the Temple, you will discover that Mary and I did not disobey the Law of Moses. We brought the child to the Temple on the eight day for Him to be circumcised, for it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.’ We also brought the offering that was appropriate for this dedication.”

Attorney – “Joseph, it has been said that you are known in your community as being a righteous man. Surely such a man of your reputation has been heavily ridiculed and scorned for taking this woman to be your wife and for agreeing to raise this child as if He was your own. Can you please explain to us what caused you to make such a life-changing decision?”

Joseph – “An angel from God visited me and told me that the child had been placed in her womb by the Spirit of God. Though I did not fully understand what this meant, and still don’t for that matter, I was afraid to disobey God. I knew in my heart that if I did not take Mary as my wife and care for this child, I would be sinning against God and something wonderful that He was about to do. To be honest sir, both Mary and I have wondered if perhaps this child is the Messiah our people have hoped and waited for.”

2. Witness #2 – Mary

Attorney – “Your honor, I call as my next witness the young woman named Mary.” “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

Mary – “I do.”

Attorney – “Would you please tell us in your own words what happened with angel’s visit?”

Mary – “One night a man suddenly appeared in my room. As might imagine, I was startled. But the way the man glowed told me that he was no ordinary person. I knew in my heart that he must be an angel. The angel said to me – ‘Greetings highly favored one. The Lord is with thee. You are the most blessed among women.” (see Luke 1:28)

“I could not understand why an angel would say such a thing to me. But then he said – ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Attorney – “What did you think when the angel said this to you?”

Mary – “I could not understand what he meant. I am pure. I have never been with a man. I could not understand how it could be possible for me to give birth to a son, much less the Son of the Most High God. And so I asked the angel – ‘How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?'”

Attorney – “And what did the angel say?”

Mary – “The angel answered and said – ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

He also told me – “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.'” (see Luke 1:35) I then went to visit Elisabeth and discovered that it was just as the angel had said. The moment I arrived in Elisabeth’s home she said to me – Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (see Luke 1:42-43)”

B. The Miracle of the Virgin Birth

I said earlier that the virgin of birth of Christ is perhaps one of God’s greatest miracles. The power of this great miracle lies within the angel’s statement to Mary -‘For with God nothing shall be impossible.’ Let us not forget that God created the first man without a mother or father. Therefore, can He not do whatever He pleases?

II. The Meaning of the Virgin Birth

Why is the virgin birth so important? The book of Acts describes the infant Jesus as a ‘holy child.’ (see Acts 4:27,30) Though I don’t believe that Jesus had a halo around His head as the medieval artists portrayed Him, I do believe that the child was holy from the moment of it’s conception.

A. The Formation of His Physical Body

First let’s consider the formation of His physical body. We read from the Bible –

Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

God the Father ‘prepared’ a human body for His Son. How did God do this? He did so by selecting an egg from Mary’s womb and thus Mary became the vessel by which Christ received His human nature. Mary also served as the incubator in which the egg developed from an embryo into a fetus and from a fetus into the infant child that was born.

 B. The Formation of a Perfect Sacrifice

It was through the virgin Mary that Christ received His human nature. But Jesus was more than a baby born without a human father. He was the Son of God clothed in human flesh. The Bible says-

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

The Bible says that before Christ was born, He was ‘equal with God.’ The word equal refers to equality both in quantity and quality. The Son of God was God in every aspect. The holy child born at Bethlehem was fully God and fully man.

Only by the virgin birth could the Son of God clothe Himself in human flesh and thus become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Consider these important aspects of this holy child:

1. He Had No Inherited Sin Nature

The Bible says: “sin entered the world through one person, (Adam) …with the result that all sin.” (see Romans 5:12) We are all born with a sin nature and therefore we are not sinners because we sin; but we sin because we are sinners. But this holy child born at Bethlehem did not inherit a sin nature. He was God clothed in human flesh.

 2. He Never Committed a Sin

Because Jesus had no inherited sin nature, He never sinned. (see 2 Cor 5:21; Jn 8:46; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22) Had Jesus been born of a human father, He would have had a sin nature just like the rest of us and therefore at some point in His life He would have in some way sinned. But because He had no sin nature, He never sinned.

 3. He is the Perfect Peacemaker Between God and Man

Because Jesus was a perfect human being, He is qualified to be the perfect peacemaker between God and man. The Bible says: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5) The word ‘mediator’ means: {one who intervenes between two parties, either in order to make or to restore peace}. The Bible says: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1)

 III. The Ministry of the Virgin Birth

Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

A. Thou Shalt Call His Name Jesus

There are a lot of reasons why a parent may choose a name for their child. Perhaps it is a family name passed down from one generation to the next. Perhaps it is a name that simply appeals to the parents.

During Bible times, names were often chosen for a specific purpose. For instance, the name ‘Adam’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘red’, no doubt making a connection to the fact that man was created from the dust of the ground. The name Abraham means ‘father of a multitude’, indicating that he would be the father of the Jewish nation. What does the name Jesus mean? It means- “Jehovah is salvation.’

Though there have been many children down through the ages who have been given the name ‘Jesus’, or ‘Joshua’ as it is in the Hebrew; there is only one person who has been truly qualified to bear the name ‘Jesus.’ Only one holy child could rightfully say that He is God’s salvation.

 B. For He Shall Save His People From Their Sins

Most of us go through our entire lives, searching for our purpose. “Why am I here? What is it that God wants me to do?” Yet there was never a doubt in the mind of Jesus as why He was born. From before the foundation of the world, it was ordained that in the fullness of time, God’s Son would come to this earth and become a man, so that as a man He could give His life for the sins of mankind. That is why God told Joseph to name the child- Jesus. The Apostle Peter preached-

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Only Jesus is the perfect human sacrifice for our sins. Only through our faith in His sacrificial death will we ever find forgiveness of our sins and restoration with God.

Of all the explanations that have been given as to who Jesus is and why He came to this earth, our Lord said it the best-

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Have you ever put your faith in the name of the only begotten Son of God? If not, I plead with you to do so today.

 

 

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