Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
The Christmas story is not only a wonderful message of God’s love for us, but it is also undergirded by historical facts. One fact of Christmas is the historical fact of His incarnation.
Years ago, I heard Chris Matthews interviewing somebody about the Christmas story. In an unusually somber moment, Matthews said, “Let me get this straight. You are saying that the God of the universe took on human form, was born in a manger, and was crucified on a cross so that He might offer forgiveness to humanity. If that is true, the very thought of it takes your breath away.” When you think about it, it really does take your breath away. How is it that the Creator of the universe poured all of Himself into one tiny egg in the womb of a peasant teenager? The Bible says the means of the incarnation was the virgin birth of Jesus.
In a prophecy made 700 years before the fact, Isaiah said, “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (7:14). Then when the angel appeared to Mary, Matthew pointed out, “All this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet” (1:22). Why was that important?
The virgin birth is important for a number of reasons. It was necessary to fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, to keep Jesus from inheriting a sin nature from his natural father. You see, the sin nature is passed from the father to the child. Had Jesus been born naturally of Joseph, then He would have inherited that sin nature. Not only that, but the virgin birth was also important to save Jesus from the curse that had come down to Joseph, the curse of Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22:30). God placed a curse on Jeconiah and said, “None of your descendants will ever rule on the throne of David.” Joseph was a natural descendant of Jeconiah. So had Jesus been born of Joseph, then He would have inherited that curse and been disqualified to ever rule on David’s throne. All of those reasons, and many more, necessitated the virgin birth of Christ. Yet from the very beginning, critics have assailed this idea that Jesus was born of a virgin.
The fiercest critic of Christianity during the second century wrote this: “It was Jesus himself who fabricated the story that he had been born of a virgin. In fact, however, his mother was a poor country woman who earned her living by spinning. She had been driven out by her carpenter-husband when she was convicted of adultery with a soldier named Panthera. She then wandered about and secretly gave birth to Jesus. Later, because he was poor, he hired himself out in Egypt where he became adept in magical powers. Puffed up by these, he claimed for himself the title of God.” Who conjures up such a thing? Somebody who refuses to accept the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God In A Stable: Fact Or Fable?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Celsus, quoted in “Newsweek” staff, “The Birth of Jesus,” “Newsweek,” December 12, 2004.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.