Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Yeah, I know it is still early December, but we should have Christmas cheer all year long.
A few years back, we had a family of children visit our church. It was early December. The kids were starting to work on the Christmas play during Sunday School. The Christmas play was the traditional Christmas story complete with Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and barnyard animals.
We had picked up the visiting children that morning; they ranged in age from 8-12. On the drive home, the twelve-year-old asked us, “That play, how did that have anything to do with Christmas?”
Those children had never heard the real Christmas story. The events of Christmas were so foreign to them that Baby Jesus, Mary, and so on were complete unknowns.
Is the basic Christmas story – a virgin gives birth to the Son of God – an unknown to younger generations?
The virgin birth is essential to the Christian faith. It is so critical that without it, Christianity crumbles to dust.
The prophecy of the virgin birth is given in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
When the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to explain what is about to happen, the Bible uses the word virgin twice to describe her. Luke 1:27, “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
Mary’s response to the news that she was going to conceive was, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man” (Luke 1:34)? The Bible leaves no doubt that Mary was a virgin.
The need for a virgin – if Joseph or any other man was Jesus’ father, then He is not God’s Son. Mary conceived Jesus by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Later, an angel reveals to Joseph the virgin birth. Matthew 1:20-23, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appreared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary they wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 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.”
The angel also tells Joseph why God is showing up in human form – “he shall save his people from their sins.”
Jesus will save us from our sins by being the Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins. John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things , as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christs, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
If Joseph or any other man was Jesus’ father, Christ could not have died for our sins because His blood would be tainted with sin.
Only God in the flesh has the blood capable of washing our sins away.
If Mary was not a virgin, then Jesus is not God’s Son, and salvation is not available through the blood of Christ.
Do not underestimate the importance of the virgin birth and the true meaning of Christmas. The Son of God came to this world as a baby to sacrifice Himself for our sins.
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With houses of worship still under restrictions across much of the nation, the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner are inviting an array of spiritual teachers to share insights from the ages along with words of comfort and encouragement. These timely messages are not exclusive to any particular faith walk and will be included in our ongoing Spirituality series.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com