A Virgin Until She Gave Birth
The miraculous nature of the Christmas story is not just an attention-getting marketing scheme, for growing a religious enterprise. Mary was not herself sinless, as some false teachers proclaim. Rather, the virgin girl of Nazareth received favor from the Lord, to be the blessed mother of the promised Messiah.
To complicate matters, Mary was betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth. This was a year-long arrangement between two families. It would culminate on the wedding day, when the groom would come for his bride, parade her through the streets, and take her home to the house he had prepared for them to live in marriage (Christ will do this with His church, at the end of the age).
Mary was pregnant during betrothal. Who was this child’s father? That question would resurface again and again during Jesus’ brief earthly ministry. The implication was that Jesus was a bastard (Jn 8:41). His family was mired in scandal. The foul nature of this marriage union would serve many, helping their unbelief in Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God (Jn 10:30).
No man has faith in Jesus Christ, by his own reasoning. Without the supernatural elements and working of God, no one has the will or ability to trust Jesus Christ (Jn 1:13; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:7; 9:16; Gal 3:22).
The Old Testament prophecies, being fulfilled in Jesus, are supernatural because no one else in history has even come close to matching time, place, identity, and circumstances, as Jesus did. Foremost in this, for Christmas, is a virgin, being with child (Is 7:14).
Mary of Nazareth, the virgin girl from the family line of King David and tribe of Judah (Lk 3:31, 33 — compare Mt 1:3, 6 of Joseph’s lineage), was made to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:20). The seed within her was holy, in the sinless sense (Heb 4:15). Mary was holy in the sense of being the chosen vessel of fleshly humanity, who would house the holy thing within her (Lk 1:35).
Within her was the Son of God, the eternal Spirit who became enfleshed and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14). He was like us, yet without sin — throughout conception, birth, life, death, resurrection, and glorification (2 Cor 5:21).
The purpose of this supernatural conception was to avoid the inherited sin of Adam, the first man, who was deceived and rebelled against God his Creator (Rom 5:12–21). Original sin is the curse of the sons of Adam, who live as sons of disobedience, having a sin nature (Eph 2:2–3). Jesus was fully man, and He carried the title, “Son of Man,” but not because of the polluted sin of Adam. Jesus was the Son of Man because He was born of a woman (Gal 4:4). In this way, Jesus could serve as the unblemished Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, for His people (Jn 1:29).
Joseph of Nazareth was a relative of Mary, as the nation of Israel was one very large family. Joseph, however, is best viewed as Jesus’ stepfather, having no direct biological connection to the Christ child (Jn 6:42). Joseph received the will of God for his life, in being the husband for Mary and the biological father of their other children. Jesus’ brothers (Jn 7:3), who later served Him, were half-brothers, being the biological offspring of Joseph and Mary.
Mary called herself, “the handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38).” She knew that God her Savior had visited her (Lk 1:47). Biblically, it is right to call her, “blessed” and “virgin.” Knowing Jesus intimately, as only a mother could know a child, she would later suffer, as only a mother could. She knew Jesus’ perfection. She was a witness to His wisdom and power (1 Cor 1:24). How in the world could her perfect Son be so mistreated, by those who did not know Him as she did (Lk 2:35)?
Who would believe Mary’s report of the Holy Spirit’s work in her womb? Who would believe Joseph’s collaborating testimony? Unbelief was already there at the first Christmas at Bethlehem Ephratah. My dear reader, this conception story is essential to the Christmas story. You must believe the Scriptures, and only understand them if God gives you understanding (Lk 24:27, 32, 45). You will believe them, only if God grants you the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:47). When men do not believe in Jesus, as Lord and Savior, it is because His Spirit does not abide in them (Rom 8:9).
The Word of God is called, “the seed (Mt 13:23),” and it must be supernaturally implanted in one’s soul (Jas 1:21). In this, every believer in Jesus shares the experience of Mary at Christmas. The supernatural, holy thing conceived in every believer is the Word of life (Phil 2:16; 1 Jn 1:1). It is matured by the same Spirit of Christ, who abides in each of the regenerated saints. We, too, have been impregnated with the Word of God, who has given us life (Jn 6:63), abundant and eternal (Jn 10:10, 28; 17:2).
God brings forth the Word, as the child of God is born again of the Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). Jesus is the Son of God, who is the Word of God (Jn 1:1), conceived by the Spirit, in the Virgin Mary and born of this woman at the fulness of time (Gal 4:4). In the new birth, Christ in us has been given — a work of the same Spirit. In other words, the Spirit conceived Jesus in the flesh in His mother’s womb, and the same Spirit conceives Jesus within our flesh. The flesh is doomed to die, but the same Spirit will raise to life, our bodies of death, on the last day. Body and soul, we shall be glorified.
Jesus, through His life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45), has conceived the life of God in God’s chosen people, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11). Thus, Christmas is not entirely understood, until the believer recognizes his or her parallel to Mary, that is, Christ conceived and living in each of us, who are called, “beloved” and “blessed,” for that is who we are with Christ in us (Gal 2:20).
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
December 25, 2020