December 27, 2014 Leave a comment
I get the feeling that both Christians and non-Christians today don’t have a very complete understanding of the significance of the virgin birth. Most Christians know it’s important, and correctly, will defend their position because Scripture indeed says it’s how Jesus came into the world. However, there’s more purpose in the virgin birth than just being a really unique stage entrance. While it is really miraculous and only possible with God, there is an even greater narrative at work that must be understood for us to truly embrace the significance of Jesus’s birth.
In Romans 5 (which references Genesis 3), we see that sin and death are passed down to each subsequent generation through Adam, even though Eve technically sinned first (that male headship thing wasn’t just stuck in later for fun, you know). Our sinful nature is passed on to us by our fathers, not our mothers. Verse 19 in Romans 5 says that by one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners. It is therefore Adam’s sin that corrupted us, not Eve’s.
With that in mind,we recognize that it isn’t necessary for Mary to be perfect, or without sin herself. She was the product of a man and woman, and her nature was no different than that of anyone else. The importance of her virginity was that no man could claim fatherhood to baby Jesus. Jesus stepped out of Heaven to become a real human, conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. A miracle no doubt, but much more than that, Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, with no sin being passed to him through the seed of a human father.
What does it mean for us now? It means that God’s requiring of a sacrifice for our sin (think Old Testament requirements of an unblemished lamb for atonement of sins) had to be like us (human), yet perfect or “spotless.” Galatians 4 points out that Jesus was born under the law so he could redeem us, who were also all under the law. Jesus had to be both fully man, and fully God. Therefore, the virgin birth is an absolute necessity for the salvation we cling to today. Because God in his great love for us sent a willing Jesus to Earth, we can share in the righteousness of Christ and commune with the Father as first intended.
As I’ve understood this narrative more, it’s totally reshaped the way I look at Christmas. As we reflect on the Christmas holiday we just celebrated, let’s take time to thank God for the miracle of salvation and recognize the great lengths at which he went to save us.