By Nathan Jones
Is the virgin birth essential to the Christmas story?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Miami's Calvary Chapel Aventura and I will discuss the Christmas hope mankind has through the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Let's Get Started
Vic Batista: Let's learn about the prophetic birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by looking at Matthew 1:18-25 and Isaiah 7 and 9 as our biblical texts. The birth of Jesus Christ is one of the greatest prophetic signs of all times.
Nathan Jones: Yes, let's talk about the Christmas story.
Firstly, I'd like to point out that there are 109 distinct prophecies from the over 300 general prophecies given throughout the Old Testament that prophesies the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah would be the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, and God incarnate. God would come down as a man so that He could relate to His creations. The Messiah would live a sinless life. He would suffer and die, giving up His life for us. Then He would beat death by being resurrected and coming back to life again. Jesus Christ fulfilled each and every one of those 109 prophecies!
Because Jesus fulfilled all the First Coming messianic prophecies, we therefore can have a Christmas to celebrate. We look back at the day when God became a man in the form of Jesus Christ. The birth of God's one and only Son gives us hope for a wonderful future.
To claim that wonderful future, a person must give their life to Jesus Christ by accepting Him as the Son of God and Savior and by putting their faith and trust in Him. Now forgiven, Jesus promises to take the punishment of our sins onto Himself. Since He beat death by resurrecting Himself from the dead, both death and sin are defeated. We therefore can lead a life that is forgiven, the guilt is gone, and we can possess the glorious hope of a future living in God's Kingdom of Heaven forever.
Vic Batista: What a wonderful gift! Christmas I think is one of the best gifts that we were given by Jesus Christ. Celebrating that hope doesn't cost anything, and those are the best gifts, right, Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Salvation is a free gift to us when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, but for God it cost Him everything. It cost Him the life of His Son. Jesus gave up most of His power while He was on earth as a man.
Think about being who you are now as an adult, but then going back to being a baby all over again where everyone had to take care of you and change your diapers and feed you. That is just how it was for Jesus. He had to give up all that power to come in the form of a human, as weak a baby. He did that for us!
Jesus then suffered a horrible death by crucifixion on the cross. He endured a beating and flogging beforehand. After he died, Jesus descended into Hell, so He has experienced the eternal death as well. But, Jesus beat death and came back to life. Because of that victory over death, we too can beat death. We can have the same victory that Jesus had when we put our faith and trust in Him as Savior.
Vic Batista: Amen, what a wonderful word of encouragement! The prophecies behind the Christmas story we find weaved throughout the Bible.
The Essentiality of the Virgin Birth
Vic Batista: The Christmas story can be found in part in Matthew 1:18-25 we find this wonderful story. Let's touch on those verses.
Nathan Jones: Anyone who wants to know about the life of Jesus Christ, they can read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It's the true story of God coming down to earth as a man. Matthew 1:18-25 reads:
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.'"
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'"
"Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus."
Vic Batista: We notice here that the Messiah's name implies His mission. Every time I hear or read this story it just excites me, for there are some really wonderful things for us to learn about God in this passage. Anything that stood out to you while you were reading these verses, Nathan?
Nathan Jones: The number one thing that stands out to me is the fact that Jesus was born from a virgin birth. In other words, no man had intercourse with Mary to produce Jesus. Jesus was the Son of God, but He could also be called the Son of Man through Mary. Jesus was both God and man at the same time. He was divine and He was not divine, for He was also human. Both of those two natures were inside Jesus. Jesus existed that way because He is what is called the "Perfect Adam." Adam and Eve were the first people created, and after Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, they began to get old and eventually died because of their sins. But the new man, the better man, is Jesus Christ. He came as both God and man. Though He lived a sinless life, He still suffered and died for our sins. We find out from that passage then that Jesus' beginning was miraculous. A virgin giving birth, who has ever heard of such a thing?
Vic Batista: Great point! I love different versions of the Bible, but I think some of the newer versions have done a disservice when they change certain wordings around. Some versions now are using "young woman" instead of "virgin," or using "young maiden," and that poor translation just takes the miracle right out of Jesus' birth.
Nathan Jones: That would be a poor translation, because Matthew 1:18 says that Mary was found with child "before they came together," and then in two different places it says that they didn't lie together. In other words, they didn't have sex. Mary therefore was a virgin who became pregnant. That is the miracle of this pregnancy.
So many liberal theologians and liberal Christians try to explain away the virgin birth. Some will claim Jesus was just a man and the Holy Spirit came on Him and made Him powerful, and when He died His spirit went on but not His body. But, that's not the way the Bible teaches it. The Bible teaches that Jesus began as a miracle. The Holy Spirit put the Son of God inside Mary and so she had a virgin birth. She never did have any sexual relations with Joseph until after Jesus was born, for we do read later on about Jesus having at least four brothers and two sisters.
Vic Batista: Absolutely, and that's a very good point.
Nathan Jones: The way Jesus was born is so important because this is bona fide miracle. Without the virgin birth Jesus wasn't divine, and if He wasn't divine, then His death was meaningless. Christmas has no meaning.
Vic Batista: Excellent point again! That is why for Christians Christmas is such an important time of the year, because Christmas gives credibility to the Bible. We have tons of historical evidence. And, everywhere you turn, Jesus has had more of an impact on this world than anybody else throughout history.
Nathan Jones: Think about the billion or so people who believe in Jesus as their Savior today and throughout the last 2,000 years. You would think that some poor carpenter from a backwater town of about 500 people in some backwoods area that nobody had really ever heard of could never become the major influence that tore down Israel's false religious leaders. Jesus tore down the Roman Empire then conquered the nations and conquered the hearts of people throughout the world. He did that all through peace and by His love; not by the sword, but through love.
That's God! That God became incarnate blows my mind every time I think about it.
In the second part of this discussion on the Christmas Story, Vic and I will continue to look at how Jesus is the Prince of Peace the world so desperately needs.