Christmas is a big deal for millions. The reasons vary. It may be:
- Memories of Christmases past
- The festive vibrancy of the season
- The pleasure of giving and receiving gifts
- The anticipation of being with family
But in particular, what about you? If you celebrate Christmas, why is it special to you? If you are a Christian, there is probably one reason, above all, why Christmas is a big deal.
And that, of course, is the celebration of Jesus’ birth to the virgin Mary in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.
Conversely, like many others, you may not know the “Christmas story.” But that is easily remedied. In order to learn about the virgin birth, specifically read the first chapters of the Gospels of Matthew (1:18–25) and Luke (1:26–38). Together they tell complementary narratives.
- Firstly, about Jesus’ supernatural conception.
- And secondly, about his natural birth to Mary in Bethlehem.
But why should Christmas be a big deal to you personally?
There are at least six reasons why Christmas should affect your life.
Accordingly, they can be remembered by the mnemonic: “SPIDER.”
S: Supernatural invading the Natural World
P: Prophecy Fulfilled
I: Inauguration of God’s Plan
D: Divine Grace
E: Eagerness of Mary & Joseph to obey God
R: Reliable Historical Documents
If you grew up repeatedly hearing the Christmas message, the profound message may have become dulled.
On the contrary, you may have been taught Christmas is superstition. However, that belief is incorrect!
Christmas is a big deal because Christianity is comparatively unique among all world religions. In brief, our supernatural God invaded our natural world in human form as a helpless human infant.
- Jesus (who is God) was supernaturally conceived in human form nine months before his birth.
- In particular, two terms for this miracle are virgin conception or incarnation
Of course, two questions come to mind:
- Firstly, “How is that possible that God became human?”
- Secondly, “What does it mean that Jesus is fully God and fully human?”
Basically, the virgin conception begins with Jesus’ mother.
- Mary was a young virgin (Luke 1:34) engaged to Joseph (Luke 1:27).
- God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to miraculously conceive Jesus in Mary (Matt. 1:18–25; Luke 1:34–35)
- Consequently, she became pregnant without ever having sexual relations (Matt 1:18)
Similarly, “incarnation” means “God in human form.” In this case, it refers to Jesus, who is fully God, also becoming human!
How God became human is a mystery that we can never fully comprehend.
- God is infinite, and we are finite
- As a matter of fact, the only reason we know it happened is because of Matthew and Luke’s inspired accounts
- But the truthfulness of both narratives is indicated by their simple and unembellished birth narratives
b. Jesus is fully God and fully human
If you are not a Christian, the idea that Jesus is both God and human must seem a surprisingly farfetched belief.
Moreover, you may think Jesus being both God and human is contradictory!
In response, it is true and not contradictory.
In the first place, Jesus is God. He is the Second Person of the Trinity. Consequently, he has a divine nature.
- Paul undeniably writes Jesus is God in Philippians 2:5–7, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” [emphasis mine]
- And certainly, Jesus knew he was God (John 6:38; 8:42; 13:3)
- To illustrate his divine nature, Jesus’ life was marked by miracles. And these miracles began at his conception. And they continued through his life, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven
Secondly, Jesus is also fully human. To explain, when the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus, the Lord took on a second perfect human nature (Hebrews 7:26).
- As a result, he did not inherit a sinful human nature and was able to live a sinless life
- Yet despite being sinless, Jesus completely identified with humanity. And that includes being tempted, but never sinning (Heb. 4:15)
Therefore, Jesus is one Person with two natures (one divine and one human).
In short, he is the perfect God-man Jesus.
“Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. Christ means Messiah or “Anointed One.” A critical point often overlooked is that prophecy fulfillment proves Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. For example:
- There are hundreds of prophecies about the coming Jewish Messiah
- Jesus fulfills at least 300 prophecies
- Statistically, that is impossible unless Jesus is the Messiah
With this in mind, the virgin birth fulfilled several prophecies from the Old Testament.
In particular, Matthew 1:22–23claims the virgin birth fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14:
- All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name “Immanuel” (which means, “God with us”)
- In light of this fulfilled prophecy, as “Immanuel,” Jesus came to carry out God’s plan of salvation (see below)
- And because Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, our salvation involves God personally
Furthermore, there are other prophecies regarding Jesus’ virgin birth, including:
- Isaiah 9:6-7 prophecies of a coming ruler
- Micah 5:2 prophecies Jesus’ birthplace as Bethlehem
Christmas is a big deal because Jesus’ birth started something unprecedented in world history that subsequently affected all humankind (Luke 1:32–33). The virgin birth:
- Most importantly, ushered in God’s plan of redemption
- Explicitly introduced the perfect and final expression of God’s saving love.
- In short, it began the process of Jesus coming to save people from their sins
However, the significance of Jesus’ birth was not fully realized until his death and resurrection.
- In other words, Jesus was born to die
- In essence, he was the perfect sacrificial lamb who bore all of humanity’s sins
- And subsequently, his resurrection proved God accepted his sacrifice
- Only then does salvation become altogether universally available (Luke 2:32)
- And by choosing to place our faith in Jesus, we can have our sins forgiven and spend eternity with God
Only now, in light of God’s plan, does the importance of Jesus being fully God and fully human become apparent.
Why is that?
Because only Jesus, the perfect God-man, can mediate between God and humanity.
- Firstly Jesus needed to be God to have the power to save us.
- Secondly, Jesus also needed to be a sinless human to represent us.
And only through his “blood sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:22) he covered our sins (Romans 5:18–19).
4. Reason 4: Divine Grace.
As an illustration, imagine you did something intentionally or unintentionally to another person that seriously harmed them physically or emotionally. For instance, you:
- Were driving drunk and ran into another car, killing a family’s child
- Spread vicious gossip that you later found out was wrong. But it irreparably damaged the person’s reputation
And despite how sorry you felt, there was no way for you to fix the harm you had done.
Now imagine how you would feel if that person whose life you destroyed forgave you unconditionally.
That is grace. You were given something you did not deserve.
Furthermore, imagine how you would respond if, by forgiving you, the injured party was harmed further harmed.
To clarify these preceding illustrations, let me explain how they apply to you. You may not realize that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23). You have rebelled against a holy God and irreparably damaged that relationship (Rom. 3:10).
And regardless of what you think, you can never do enough good things to earn your way into heaven (Rom. 3:20)! In fact, due to our sinfulness, we deserve hell (Rom. 6:23)!
In this case, there is an unbridgeable chasm between God and us caused by our sin. And there is nothing we can do about remedying our helpless situation (1 Tim. 1:9-10)!
Consequently, unless God took the initiative, we would be quarantined from God eternally.
But why should God care about us? And above all, why would he be willing to send his son to die a horrible death on the cross for us (2 Cor. 8:9)?
The only answer is God’s grace (Eph. 2:8). God not only forgives your debt, he paid it as well!
God’s plan of salvation is an act of divine grace and love. His plan started with the incarnation and ended when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus became sin in our place so that we might have new life in him. (2 Cor. 5:21).
The virgin birth shows the extent of God’s love for us because:
- Despite our sinfulness (Rom. 6:23)), he graciously sent Jesus “to save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21)
- We do not deserve God’s love and personal sacrifice for us
- But it was God’s choice to rescue us from our sins when we have nothing to offer him in return
The birth narratives portray Mary humbly obeying the Lord. She immediately submitted to God’s will. She responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.… May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
On the other hand, when Joseph heard about Mary’s pregnancy, he knew he was not the father. He intended to divorce her quietly (Matt. 1:19). However, an angel appeared to him in a dream and explained God’s plan. He subsequently obeyed God’s will despite the future shame and reproach (Matt. 1:19–25).
Christmas is a big deal because the virgin birth narratives are genuine and authentic!
How do we know the Christmas narrative is true? In the first place, start by considering the following evidence:
- Firstly, the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke tell different but compatible accounts. Both knew Jesus’ virgin birth was an established fact
- Secondly, if the stories were fictitious, Matthew and Luke would exaggerate the miracles. But instead, they show considerable restraint
- Thirdly, Matthew and Luke’s accounts carefully document what happened at Jesus’ birth. Significantly there is no embellishment
- Fourthly, Mary and Jesus’ brothers would preserve Jesus’ birth story from any distortion
- Fifthly, Jesus’ brother, James, believed he was God and died a martyr for that belief (James 2:1)
- Finally, the early church fathers believed in the virgin birth. Their support endorses it as a well-accepted first-century Christian tradition
Another key point is the historical reliability of the New Testament. Two criteria establish the reliability of the New Testament. And these are the reliability of the (1) documents and (2) witnesses.
Firstly, the New Testament’s reliability exceeds any book from the ancient world.
- Many New Testament manuscript copies are dated nearer to the originals than any ancient text
- The manuscript copies were copied 99.5 percent accurately
- The information in the New Testament has been corroborated by external evidence
Secondly, the New Testament authors were either disciples or superintended by disciples. The disciples were men of outstanding moral character. And all except John willingly died for what they believed (the resurrection).
The virgin birth was likely common knowledge to early Christians. And this explains why Mark and John treat it as an established fact.
The Apostle Paul indirectly assumes the miraculous virgin conception. He compares the first human, Adam, with the second Adam, Jesus.
- Adam was created with a perfect human nature, but he chose to rebel
- Jesus was the perfect God-man with a perfect human nature, but he did not sin (1 Cor. 15:20–22, 45–49; Rom. 5:14–19)
Claiming the virgin conception is a myth or legend is impossible!
- Firstly, the narratives are found in two historically reliable New Testament books. Further, the disciples had access to Jesus, Mary, and Jesus’ brothers
- Secondly, up until that time, the virgin birth narrative was unique. No legends were paralleling a virgin birth in any other religion
- Thirdly, pre-Christian Jewish tradition never anticipated a virgin birth of the Messiah
- Finally, myth and legend require at least 60 to 80 years and isolation to evolve. Neither was present here
Christmas is a big deal because it is an opportunity to worship God because of Jesus’ birth.
Undeniably, God keeps his promises. The virgin birth fulfills prophecy. In brief, we can trust that God will keep every promise he has made.
The virgin birth introduced the perfect and final expression of God’s saving love, Jesus. For this reason, if you place your faith in the Lord, you will spend eternity with him.
Since the New Testament is reliable, the Christmas story of the virgin birth is trustworthy. These virgin birth cannot be wished away by critics because they don’t want to believe in miracles.
All things considered, without the virgin birth, there would be no Jesus. Moreover, without Jesus, there would be no salvation. And most importantly, without salvation, we’d be stuck in our sins forever. That is why Christmas is a big deal!
And God chose to sacrifice Jesus to provide us with salvation. Jesus is the only mediator between sinful humans and a perfect, holy God.
- God sent Jesus to live a sinless life and die in our place as the perfect sacrificial lamb
- And if we place our faith in Jesus, we can have our sins forgiven and spend eternity with God
- Jesus’ death delivered us from our sin
- In other words, the virgin birth is the start of the gospel!
This Christmas season is the perfect time for learning how to talk to others about the Good News or Gospel.
- During the holidays, many people struggle with depression, loneliness, and painful memories
- Evangelism should be done in a culturally sensitive Create trust with attention to the proper time and place. Then you can share the life-giving message of Jesus
Conversely, I have suggestions if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.
- Firstly, read or listen to the birth narratives in chapter one of Matthew and Luke
- Then read or listen to the Gospel of John
- Also, attend a Christmas service allowing yourself to be vulnerable during worship
- And despite your doubts, you may find yourself inexorably drawn to Jesus. The Savior who loves you an infinite amount
I pray that you can celebrate Christmas this year with the real meaning of Christmas in mind!
- Kendall, R. T. Understanding Theology, Volume Two. Christian Focus, 2000.
- Elwell, Walter A. & Barry J. Beitzel. “Virgin Birth of Jesus.” In Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.
- Geisler, Norman L. “Virgin Birth of Christ.” In Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.
- Geisler, Norman L. & Ralph E. MacKenzie, R. E. Roman Catholics, and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995
- Machen, J. Gresham. The Virgin Birth of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1930.
- Corduan, Winfried. No Doubt About It: The Case for Christianity. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.
- Buckwalter, H. Douglas. “Virgin Birth.” In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1996.
- Got Questions Ministries. Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013.