In our last study, I mentioned a common misconception many Christians have about the Virgin Birth. They think it was by being born of a Virgin that Jesus was kept from inheriting our sinful human nature. If you haven’t read that lesson, please take a few moments to do so. You can find it just below this one. Now, in this short study, I want to explain the first reason Jesus had to be Virgin Born.
Reason #1: To Fulfill Old Testament Prophecy
According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of people born since the beginning of time is approximately 108 billion. But God promised that one (and just one!) of those babies would become the Savior of the world. Scholars call it the proto-evangel—the first preaching of the good news by God Himself. When did He make this declaration? From the very moment of man’s fall into sin! Wasn’t that gracious of God? To turn man’s most evil deed into a promise of forgiveness and salvation! Speaking to the serpent (possessed by the devil) who had deceived Eve and led both her and Adam to sin, the Lord God said:
“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV
Two facts are obvious. A human Savior would crush the work of Satan while suffering in the process. But the second fact is equally gracious. Though it was the woman who first opened the door to the devil, it would be through the seed of the woman that mankind would one day be saved. Notice! No mention of the man’s seed is made. This is the first hint in Scripture of the Savior’s Virgin Birth.
But that raises a question: With so many people having been born into the world, how would we who need a Savior recognize Him if He came? Even if the estimate of the Population Reference Bureau is inflated, it is clear that billions of souls have been born into this world. For example, today we are told that there are over 7 billion people living on earth. And you can be sure the same serpent who deceived Eve would love to deceive us into believing in the wrong one.
To make it clear who the Savior is, God came up with a foolproof plan. He chose a man named Abraham and his family (called the Hebrews or Jews), gave them His moral law, entrusted His promises to them in a sacred book called the Bible, and after hundreds of years of using them to prepare the world for His coming, He sent us His Son, the long-awaited Savior through the womb of a Jewish virgin by the name of Mary. Over 60 major prophecies were fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus, many of which were beyond His control. For example, Genesis 12:1-3, 2 Samuel 7:12-13, and Micah 5:2 said He would be a descendant of Abraham and David and be born in Bethlehem, a little town 6.2 miles south of Jerusalem.
But the clearest identifier and the most amazing prophecy is the one found in Isaiah 7:14, written 700 years before the birth of Christ. In a time of war when the survival of the royal line of David was in question, God promised King Ahaz, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
This is a prophecy which has been continually attacked by critics of the Bible. They argue that the Hebrew word for “virgin” (almah) can mean young woman instead of virgin. But this is quickly corrected if you consult the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made 200 years before the birth of Christ. For the Greek word chosen by the Hebrew scholars to translate almah is parthenos which is only used to describe a virgin, that is, a young woman who has never had sexual relations with a man.
But what seals the deal and ends all argument is the fulfillment of this prophecy described by the Apostle Matthew. Four times in five verses, he assures us that Mary was a virgin, that no man was involved in the birth of Jesus, but that He was conceived by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. I have underlined the key phrases.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “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.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18-25
Luke’s account adds further support. He says it was to a “virgin” named Mary that Gabriel appeared and revealed that she would give birth to the Savior. But Mary was confused, giving further proof of her virginity. She humbly asked the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:26-35
Why, then, is the Virgin Birth important? It proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the one and only Savior of the world is Jesus born, as the Bible promised, to a virgin named Mary two thousand years ago in the little town of Bethlehem.
Of course, deceivers abound. Did you know, for example, that Jesus’ life both began with a lie and ended with a lie? In order to explain away the miraculous birth of Jesus, His religious enemies spread the rumor that He was illegitimate, that Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier passing through the village of Nazareth. We see a hint of this in John 8:41 where His enemies scoff, “We were not born of fornication.” I have underlined the word “we,” which is an emphatic pronoun in the Greek language by which they compare themselves with Jesus. In other words, they are saying, “We weren’t born of fornication like you were!”
What was the lie told following His resurrection? Matthew 28:11-15 records it. In order to keep the people from believing in Jesus, the chief priests and elders bribed the Roman soldiers who guarded His tomb to say that His disciples came by night and stole His body while they slept. How implausible! Roman soldiers risking the death penalty by sleeping on guard duty? And twelve cowardly disciples able to overpower a squad of seasoned soldiers?
But people believe what they want to believe. If you are willing to accept the Virgin Birth of Christ, there is more than enough evidence to rely on. But if you have made up your mind that you do not want to believe, the devil will be glad to plant enough doubts in your mind that you will find it difficult if not impossible to believe. Don’t let him do that to you! After all, what is left to those who reject the Virgin Birth of Jesus? Nothing! No forgiveness of sins and no assurance of salvation! For if Jesus is not Messiah, no one is. Only He has the credentials to be Savior of the world. The Apostle Paul offers this assurance in Galatians 4:4.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Reread the passages I have cited and be fully assured. Jesus is the one and only Savior to whom you can turn this very moment to forgive your sins, to comfort your heart, and to answer your prayers. Bible prophecy assures us of it. That is the first reason the Virgin Birth matters. In our next study we’ll take a look at a second and even more important reason.