This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
At a Sunday meal during the Christmas season when our daughter Lara was about nine years old, she asked, “What does virgin mean?” She had heard the word in Sunday school. I just about choked on my mashed potatoes. Lori and I looked at each other, and finally, I said, “Lara, after dinner we’ll go in the living room and I will tell you.” Our son, Garrison, who only the week before had the opportunity to sit with me to talk about “the birds and the bees,” piped up and said, “Lara, if he has to wait until after dinner to tell you, you don’t even want to know!”
The virgin birth, however hard to explain, is something we need to know. Every aspect of our faith and hope for eternal life hinges on this truth. If Jesus were simply a product of a man and a woman, His life and death mean nothing more than yours or mine. We could not even call Him a good teacher. In his classic work, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says,
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. The first and foremost foundational truth of Christianity is the Virgin Birth. Our faith stands on the promise and the truth that Mary was with child “through the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was fully God and fully man. Indeed, the Virgin Birth defines history.
Father, thank You for the promise and the fulfillment of the virgin birth that allows Jesus, fully God and fully man, to pay the penalty for my sin. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For parents: don’t shy away from explaining the importance of this truth to your children when their age is appropriate. It is critical to our faith. You probably have some dinner-table Christmas stories like the one I shared today. We would love to hear about the questions your children ask. Share them with us at email@example.com.
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