Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
(Matthew 1:18 ESV)
A couple of days ago we read Matthew’s human genealogy of Jesus. Jesus was entirely human, as we saw. But that is only half of the story.
The Greek word translated “birth” in today’s verse is the exact same word translated “genealogy” in Matthew 1:1. This word is γένεσις (pronounced: ghen’-e-sis) which means “origin” or “source”. Previously we read the list of human beings from whom Jesus originated. This included historical figures such as Abraham and David. But Jesus has a second “source”. He is also from the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was not conceived in the same way that every other human being was conceived. His parents were betrothed (essentially engaged) but before they had come together (had sexual relations) Mary was with child. Jesus was conceived without a sperm or an egg. Instead, God implanted Himself in Mary’s womb directly. Mary’s body provided the incubation for the baby. Jesus was 100% human while being 100% God.
This amazing truth was foretold as far back as the Garden of Eden. Immediately after Adam & Eve sinned and brought trouble on the human race, God initiated His plan to redeem us. He even mentions this plan in Genesis 3:15 in which He alludes to the virgin birth by referencing a future human being who will be the “seed” of Mary.
Now, this is extremely interesting because women don’t have seeds. It is the male who provides the seed during conception. The very word “semen” means “seed” in Latin. It comes from the root word “serere” which means “to sow”. Way back in the Garden of Eden God told us that someday a man would be born who would be conceived without a male sperm. Pretty cool, huh?
The prophet Isaiah, writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, mentions this more specifically in one of his prophecies where he clearly states that a virgin will give birth to a son who would be the Messiah [Isaiah 7:14]. Mary was that virgin. Jesus was that son. He was that Messiah.
Throughout history people have doubted and ridiculed the virgin birth of Jesus, including some who lived during Jesus’ day. The Bible even records snide remarks by the Pharisees who imply that Jesus was born out of wedlock [John 8:41].
Obviously being born of a virgin is a highly astounding claim. But it was an absolutely important and necessary part of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. If Jesus has been conceived in the usual way then He would have inherited sin from his sinful human parents. If He had inherited sin He would not have been able to live a perfect life and, hence, take on the penalty for the sins of the rest of us.
The virgin birth is an integral and obligatory part of God’s redemption plan. Without it, the rest of God’s plan falls apart.
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