Ahh… The wonder and majesty of Christmas. Celebrated around the world on December 25th (or January 7th if you follow the Gregorian calendar), this is the moment we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. While there are many who challenge the Church’s celebration of Jesus’ nativity on this date, there is also good reason to accept it. And, if you are interested in this debate, then I encourage you to visit www.dec25th.info and read some of the well documented materials found there. I, myself, was quite impressed with the site’s content after visiting it recently. The man who operates the site had an article published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society that is well worth reading.
While questions about the date are always interesting, that will not be the focus of this post. Instead, I would like to talk about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. After all, it was not just any baby that was born that day so long ago in Bethlehem. The babe in the manger was none other than the Son of God Himself.
We can see the importance of the virgin birth to the Church by its inclusion in such creeds as: the Apostle’s, Nicene, and Chalcedonian creeds. These early formulations of agreed upon Christian doctrine clearly illustrate that virgin birth should not be viewed as a side issue of minimal relevance to the faith.
But why is the doctrine of the virgin birth so important? I can think of at least three reasons:
- It relates directly to the incarnation. There are three primary means by which the incarnation could take place. Jesus could have had two parents, but this would call His deity into question. He could have entered the world apart from any human agency, but this would have called his humanity into question. Or, he could have entered into the world with a human mother that conceived through a supernatural act. This third, and final, option fits best with Jesus being both God and man.
- It identified Jesus as the incarnate Son of God. The virgin birth set Jesus apart in a way that no other child or pretender could claim.
- It ties together expectation and fulfillment. Isaiah spoke of a virgin being with child, a prophecy repeated in the Gospel of Matthew. Just as Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfilled a prophecy, so did His being born of a virgin.
As we celebrate with loved ones this Christmas, it is my prayer that we all take time to reflect on the wondrous event that occurred so many centuries ago when the Word became flesh.