A Virgin Shall Be With Child
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23).
What a remarkable thing, a virgin shall give birth to a son. The promised event had been long anticipated. The prophet Isaiah had declared that day was coming and now Matthew writes it has come. What questions must have raced through people’s minds over the years as this prophecy was considered. When the angel brought the news to Mary, who was the chosen virgin, she at first was troubled. Her husband Joseph was initially puzzled and somewhat dismayed by the event. But it really is happening. The angel told Mary the Holy Ghost would come upon her and the power of the Highest would overshadow her and “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Think of it! Not only is this event amazing because a virgin is giving birth to a Son, but His name is Emmanuel, which means God with us. Most of us have heard this story from earliest childhood. We rejoice to read the details as spelled out in the biblical account and we embrace without reservation the doctrine of the virgin birth. But when we focus on what it meant for God to become a man; we soon realize our inability to fully grasp it.
The God-man, Jesus Christ, came to live on this earth. He was the creator of the world and then He came here and walked on the world He made. He was God but He also was a real man. He worked and He rested. He interacted with family, friends and enemies. He spoke firm words of rebuke and also gracious words of forgiveness. In fact, it was said that no man ever spoke like this man.
He was a man, but He was also God. He fed multitudes; He calmed the raging sea. He healed, He delivered and even raised the dead. He died but death could not conqueror Him—He arose the mighty victor. Many will acknowledge that He was a great teacher and a good example but deny His deity. However, if He had not been God it would have been impossible for Him to put away sin and gain victory over death.
I talked one day with a Muslim who was very willing to say some good things about Jesus. He said He was a great prophet, and an outstanding man but He was not divine. In fact, although this man was very well acquainted with the New Testament, he denied that Jesus even claimed to be God. But it is evident that the Jews clearly understood His claim. “Therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18).
It is difficult to understand how some will say Jesus was a great teacher and then deny what He taught. If Jesus was not God, then He was a deceiver and He certainly was not a good example. The very foundation of Christianity crumbles if the virgin birth is not a fact. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the gospel message. The good news is not a call for self improvement by following the instructions of a great teacher, but a message of hope that the Savior Who was both God and man accomplished something by His substitutionary death that no mortal man could ever have accomplished.
When the Apostle Paul writes of the coming of Jesus Christ into the world he says, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5). There is no mention of a human father but rather of God sending His Son. He was born of a woman because He was human but not of an earthly father because he would then have had a sinful nature and could not have been the Savior.
The importance of the virgin birth cannot be overemphasized. “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (I John 4:2-3).
When the truth of His deity and His perfect humanity is embraced it brings hope and comfort to one who knows himself to be a sinner.
“Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three
Are terrors to my mind.
“But if Immanuel’s face appears,
My hope, my joy begins;
His grace removes my slavish fears,
His blood removes my sins.”
This twenty-third verse of Matthew chapter one begins with the word “Behold.” It indicates that something special, something wonderful is to be announced. And indeed, it was something wonderful. God was coming to the earth. God was becoming a man. The God-man was coming to redeem fallen sinners. He came at the appointed time. The angel said, I bring you good tidings, a Savior is born, which is Christ the Lord and the angelic host sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Let us rejoice that a virgin did bring forth a Son. His name is Emmanuel because He is “God with us.” His name is Christ because He is the anointed one. His name is Jesus because He came to save His people from their sins and he that believes in Him has eternal life.