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.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  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). Matthew 1:18-23
In the opening chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we read that “before [Mary and Joseph] came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). This took place to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah that said, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was born of a virgin. This is a significant point logically and theologically.
Logically, this point is a struggle for many folks. How could a virgin conceive? How could this be possible? It seems Joseph, understandably, was wrestling with these very same questions. In reply, an angel of the Lord gave him a simple answer: It was a miracle, a work of the Holy Spirit. Though our modern minds may wish for a more scientific accounting of these facts, we must content ourselves with the fact that the God who created the physical world can also enter it and alter it as he sees fit.
I recently came across a tweet that helped me put this whole discussion in perspective:
Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Materialists believe in the virgin birth of the cosmos. Choose your miracle. @GlenScrivener
— Matt Smethurst (@MattSmethurst) December 15, 2015
It seems that at some point, regardless of one’s beliefs or doubts, we are confronted with the miraculous. Christians simply take God and his prophets at their word.
Theologically, the virgin birth of Jesus is extremely significant. It is not merely a sign; it is fundamental to Christ’s work and salvation project. The virgin birth brings together two important parts of his person, namely, his humanity and his divinity. In having a human mother, he too is fully human. This is important because it means that Jesus assumes all that we are and can act as a representative for the human race, being a human himself. (One early church father, Gregory of Nazianzus, famously put it this way: “That which he has not assumed, he has not healed.”)
In being conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is also fully divine, the Son of God. This is important because it means that he is perfect, not inheriting the sin nature of Adam, and able to stand before God the Father. Both of these facts, his humanity and his deity, are wrapped up in the virgin birth, and both are essential to our salvation.
So, this Christmas may we revel in the brilliance of God’s plan, to rescue us through the God-man, Christ our Lord.