The Virgin Birth of Jesus
Matthew chapter 1 is a written record of how Jesus came into this world. There is one word that describes it – Supernatural. For a young woman to give birth to a baby without the aid of a human father is biologically impossible. But that’s what happened some 2000 years ago when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman (not made of a man) but of a woman. The only explanation as given here in Matthew is a supernatural work of God.
Most American admit in believing Jesus was born to a virgin. A 2003 poll was taken that reveals about 79% of all Americans believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.
1998: A poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy in the U.S. showed a wide variation in belief. The following ministers did not believe in the virgin birth:
American Lutherans 19%
American Baptists 34%
Methodists 60% 1
Except for the Methodist most preachers believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ. Really, it’s troubling to even hear of just 1 preacher who denies the Virgin Birth of Christ. Think of the damage to untold numbers of people who listen to the lies of Satan. One such false teacher, Rob Bell, has planted seeds of doubt in the minds of his listeners. In his book,
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, he advocates that the virgin birth of Jesus is not important to the Christian Faith.
Listen to what Andy Stanley (son of Charles Stanley) said on a December Sunday last year:
If somebody can predict their own death and resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world,” Andy Stanley said in a Dec. 4 sermon at North Point Community Church, which draws 36,000 attendees across six locations in suburban Atlanta. “Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus. It hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.”
Andy Stanley says “I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”
Regardless of what Rob Bell has said, or Andy Stanley has said, the truth of the Virgin Birth of Christ matters. The truth about how Jesus came into the world is a foundational truth. We don’t base our doctrines and theology on polls and public opinion. Our faith is grounded on “thus saith the Lord” in Holy Scriptures.
If Jesus was not born of the virgin then the Bible cannot be trusted when it comes to telling us the story of Jesus, and that mistrust cannot be limited to how he came to us in terms of the incarnation. The fact is that biblical Christianity and ultimately the Gospel of Christ cannot survive the denial of the virgin birth. Because without the virgin birth, you end up with a very different Jesus than the fully human, fully divine savior revealed in scripture.”
(18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. We are not left to our own views as to how Jesus was born into this world. Matthew under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said “it took place in this way”.
The word “birth” same as “genealogy” in v.1.
In vv.1-17 we have the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Tracing his genealogy all the way back to Abraham. Look at v.1 “son of David, the son of Abraham” As son of David, Jesus is the Son of Royalty; As son of Abraham, Jesus is the Son of Promise. Put that together you have this truth – Jesus is the King that was Promised. This genealogy of Jesus is through the lineage of Joseph. But it’s clear Joseph is not the father of Jesus. Look at v.16 And Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
It does not read “Joseph, the father of Jesus” but “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born…”
This is the lineage of Joseph which shows the legal right to the throne of David, the royal line to the throne of David. (see Luke 1:31-33)
There’s another genealogy of Jesus in Luke chapter 3. It’s through the lineage of Mary. Because it’s also Mary’s genealogy.
The main point to keep in mind is this:
In Matthew 1:1-17 you have the genealogy of Jesus – the son of man, the son of David, the son of Abraham. This is the explanation of the human side of Jesus.
In Matthew 1:18-25 you have the birth of Jesus – the Son of God. This is the explanation of the divine side of Jesus.
1. Mary’s Conception (v.18)
Very little we know of Mary. She was from Nazareth, a small city in Galilee. She had a relative named Elizabeth, some translations say “cousin” but the Greek word is “relative”. She had one sister we read of in John 19..at the cross stood Mary, and Mary’s siter…guess her name? Mary, also, called Mary the wife of Clopas. This was not uncommon. Very common name…lots of Mary’s…can imagine when their parents called for Mary, both came together to see which one they wanted.
Mary was a lady of faith; a humble and devout worshipper of God. She was a hymn writer. At least one hymn we know of; a song of praise is recorded in Luke 1:46-55..It’s called The Magnificat- Mary’s Song of Praise.
Mary was found to be with child during the betrothal phase of Mary and Joseph’s relationship.
“pledge to be married”
“Mary was espoused to Joseph”
To be “betrothed” meant a binding contract existed between a couple that could only be broken by death, or by divorce. It’s much stronger, and stricter than the “engagement” period in our culture. In Bible times the parents arranged who would marry their son or daughter and that often without their children’s consent.
The betrothal period lasted about 12 months before the actual wedding event took place. The age of the couple could be as young as 12 for the girl and 13 for the boy. Some think Mary was probably an older teen due to her maturity. We can’t be really for sure. During this betrothal time the future bride and groom did not see much of each other. It was a time of testing to prove their fidelity to each other.
Now it was during this betrothal phase that Mary became pregnant.
(a) It was a miraculous conception. V.18 “….found to be with child…..” Nothing like this has ever happened. Having a baby while yet a virgin. This does not happen. It’s biologically impossible. Mary’s own words “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Not ONLY was Mary’s conception miraculous ….so was Elizabeth’s conception.
For Zachariah and Elizabeth to have a baby was miraculous as well. They never had a baby, and Gabriel tells Zachariah they were going to have a baby.
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
The Lord gave Zechariah and Elizabeth the ability to have a child. That was a miracle.
Something more with Mary, however, not only was her conception “miraculous”; it was “Divine”…
(b) It was a divine conception. V.18 “from the Holy Spirit”
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
Jesus was not conceived by the seed of a man; Her conception was by the Holy Spirit.
Mary asked How will this be since I am a virgin? And Gabriel gave the answer. It will be by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A miraculous conception. A supernatural conception. A divine conception.
2. Joseph’s Consideration (v.19)
vv.19-20a “And her husband Joseph……..but as he considered these things..”
Joseph we know as a carpenter. Jesus was called the carpenter’s son. (Matthew 13:55) V.19 “a just man” He was a righteous man and we could not imagine God allowing just anyone to be the husband of Mary and the legal (not biological) but the legal father for Jesus. He cared for Mary and Jesus by taking them to Egypt when the life of the baby Jesus was threatened by King Herod. LOOK at Matthew 2:13
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Notice – the angel did NOT say “rise, take your son and your wife…” very carefully Matthew under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to make it clear…this is the SON OF GOD.
Joseph was a good man. We don’t see him in the scriptures beyond Jesus’ 12th birthday. At the cross Jesus gives the responsibility of caring for his mother to John. Joseph probably died before Jesus began his public ministry. We don’t know.
BEING A JUST MAN and unwilling to put Mary to open shame, he resolved to divorce her privately.
The strictness of Deut. 22 required stoning if a woman was caught being unfaithful during the betrothal phase. Since that time the punishment was modified by the Jews.
Joseph had two options:
(1) Divorce her publicly – this would involve bringing her before a public court and the charges of adultery would be made against her; she would be publicly shamed; brought to trial and convicted in front of everyone; her reputation would essentially be over.
(2) Divorce her privately – This was done in secret. The two could present themselves before two or three witnesses and a bill of divorcement would be written up. The charges would not be mentioned. The divorce would be quietly done with no public knowledge.
Joseph loves Mary. He is shocked. He is really messed up in his mind as to what to do.
3. The Lord’s Confirmation (vv.20-23)
But as he considered these things…. Considering what to do in the way of divorcing Mary…
The Lord confirm’s what is going on… (several “beholds” )
(A) First “Behold” v.20 A confirmation to Joseph
(B) Second “Behold” v.22-23 A confirmation from scriptures
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.”
Prophet Isaiah – God gave this prophecy 700 years before it happened.
(C) Third “Behold” A confirmation to Mary
Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
When Mary heard about her cousin, or relative Elizabeth…she could not wait to make a trip to her house. When Mary becomes pregnant, Elizabeth is already 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist.
Mary visits Elizabeth – (see Luke 1:39-56) She greets Elizabeth…the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps… 6 month…and John the Baptist is already functioning as the forerunner of Christ. Mary stays with Elizabeth for about 3 months. SEE in Luke 1:56.
Elizabeth is at near full term…and it appears Mary leaves before Elizabeth gives birth to John.
Elizabeth….having a baby in her old age…. This is the confirmation to Mary…what she heard from Gabriel was true… Mary believed the Angel Gabriel. She was not like Zechariah who did not believe, She did believe…God gave her confirmation by the miraculous way God had enabled Zechariah and Elizabeth to have a baby.
4. The Savior’s Crucifixion
It’s not premature to bring up the crucifixion at this point in the Nativity Narrative. We are not pushing it in the context, because it is in the context.
His name shall be called Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Who can save but Christ alone? How can Jesus save his people from their sins?
We are NOT saved by the incarnation of Jesus; but rather by the crucifixion of Jesus.
We are NOT saved by the life he lived; but rather by the life he gave.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
When you hear those words “that he gave his only begotten Son” that does NOT mean given at his birth. It means more than that. Given as a sacrifice for sin. For sinners.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
He was given that we might be forgiven.
Simeon’s words to Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:22-35)
Took up the baby in his arms and said “My eyes have seen your salvation”
Simeon looked at Mary and said,
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
The darkest moment for Mary…the sword piercing moment for her was when Jesus was crucified. Jesus was crucified not only for Mary but for all people who come to faith in Christ.
Simeon said, 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:30-32)
His name is Jesus – he shall save his people from their sins.
His name is called Immanuel – means – GOD WITH US.
The only way for God to be WITH US; IN US; FOR US… is for GOD TO SAVE US.
That means the CROSS.
The manger means NOTHING apart from the CROSS.
The cross was not an after thought. It was always in the mind of the Lord.
In the Garden of Eden when man fell into sin… God spoke this to the serpent…
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Her seed – Mary’s seed was not given by man; but from the Holy Spirit…
From her seed would come ONE who will “bruise thy head” …. Destroy The power of Satan…
You will “bruise his heel” speaks of his crucifixion.
5. The Believer’s Confession (vv.24-25)
Joseph woke up from sleep. He got up and he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife. He didn’t divorce his wife. He didn’t give up on his wife. He chose to believe the story. To Joseph it was NOT a fake story; NOT a made-up story; NOT a myth; NOT a fable.
For Joseph it was a REAL angel; declaring a REAL pregnancy in the womb of a REAL virgin.
Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded… He moved on… choosing to believe…. And he saw some amazing things…. He was the only father (not biological) but legal father to raise a perfect child.
He never had a problem with Jesus; the other ones that followed, that’s different. There were children that came after Jesus was born.
All Joseph could give to Jesus would be praise. Never committed a sin. Never disobeyed a commandment of the Lord. Honored his parents. A perfect child.
What did Joseph confess?
(A) He believes. He’s in. He’s going to do what the angel of the Lord had commanded him. He took Mary to be his wife. He did not have sexual relations with her until she had given birth to a son.
v.25c …And he called his name Jesus.
What did Joseph confess? This is Jesus. He is the Savior. He saves me from my sins.
That’s the Believer’s Confession….
Jesus is to be believed. Believers obey the Lord’s commands.
Believers call upon the Lord. They call him Jesus. They call him Lord. They call him Redeemer, They call Him Christ the Lord,
“Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:13
Here’s the Believer’s Confession —
Jesus truly…. For a certainty….does in fact. SAVE PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS because I’m one of them… I’m a sinner saved by the grace of God.
The vilest of sinners Jesus does SAVE….
In the genealogy vv.1-17 4 women with a bad record….
1. Tamar – v.3 guilty of prostitution and inces..
2. Rahab – v.5 a prostitute and idolatress
3. Ruth – v.5 she was from Moab and her whole line was cursed because it descended from incest.
4. Bathsheba – v.6 you don’t see her name unless you are reading from the NASB …SHE IS THERE… she’s referred as the wife of Uriah – she was an adulterous woman whose husband was murdered out of that adultery
The Believer’s confession – Yes, Jesus saves sinners. I’m one that he saved. I was lost, but now I’m found. Yes, I call him Immanuel – GOD WITH US. He’s all I need. He’s all I want. He’s with us. He’s for us. One day, He’s coming FOR US. Coming for all who are IN CHRIST.
Pray – Our Father, we confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, We confess Him as Immanuel, God with Us; Thank you for coming to save us from our sins. Thank you for coming, coming as you did, through the Virgin Mary, and coming for the purpose to redeem your people. Help us to keep our eyes upon Christ our Savior, embracing the message of the cross; and rejoicing in the God of our salvation.