Well, its Christmas—the most wonderful time of the year. For many people it is probably their most favorite holiday. It can also be a confusing holiday to explain to someone who lives in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas.
My daughter lives in Taiwan and has done a lot of teaching in the public schools there. The students enjoy hearing about American holidays and traditions so they naturally want to know all about Christmas. She would tell them about Joseph and Mary, the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, the shepherds, and the wise men. Of course they also wanted to know about Santa Claus, the elves, the reindeer, gifts, stockings, etc.
It can be quite confusing to try to explain how those very different things all fit together. Part of our tradition is based on history and the other part is based mostly on fantasy – although the historical story of St. Nicholas on which Santa Claus is loosely based is truly fascinating and inspiring.
But there are some pretty remarkable things connected with the historical story of the birth of Christ as well. There is the sky filled with angels proclaiming the birth of the Savior. There is a mysterious star that guided the wise men. And then there is the virgin birth. Angels and stars are one thing, but a virgin conceiving and bearing a child?! What is really going on there?
This part of the story often brought snickers from the Taiwanese students. A virgin birth—yeah right. We know what was really going on there. But this is not only a problem for kids, lots of adults have the same problem. I was a religion major in a baptist college, and I do not think I had a single professor who believed that Jesus was born of a virgin. It is pretty hard to believe. And what difference does it make anyway? It makes a big difference. Let me give you several reasons.
First. The virgin birth is important because it was prophesied in Scripture and is declared to be true. When the angel was telling Joseph that the Child who was conceived in Mary was of the Holy Spirit, this verse from the prophet Isaiah was quoted. “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us’.” If Jesus was not born of a virgin then the Scripture is wrong and its authority is compromised.
Second. The virgin birth is important because if man is to be saved from sin and judgment, his Mediator must be fully God and fully man. Jesus was born of a woman, that makes Him human. Our Savior must be human because we are human. The blood of bulls and goats and lambs could never take away sin. They could only point to the fact that the wages of sin is death and therefore we must have one who will be a substitutionary sacrifice for us. Jesus was born as a man so that He could suffer and die as a man. But He must also be God. He had to be God to bear the full wrath of God for man’s sin. No mere man could stand up under the wrath of almighty God. He must be God so that He could be acceptable by God as a Mediator. If Jesus was not born of a virgin then man has no acceptable Mediator for his sin.
Third. The virgin birth is important because the sacrifice for our sin must be a holy sacrifice. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament had to be without blemish. This was to signify the need for a holy sacrifice for man’s sin. The fact that Mary was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit means that Jesus was truly a holy child. All men are born in sin, with a sin nature. We inherit that from Adam because when he sinned in the Garden of Eden, he sinned as our representative. But the fact that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit meant that He was born sinless and holy. Therefore He could be the unblemished sacrifice that was needed for our sin. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then man has no hope to have his sin paid for.
So as you celebrate Christmas this year, thank the Lord again for the miracle of the virgin birth. And remember, “there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Merry Christmas.
Mac Williams is the Pastor at Two Rivers Community Church which is located at 3400 Little York Road. He can be reached at 898-2824 or visit the church’s website at www.tworiverscc.org.