Larry said, "Jesus Christ."
"And if you could only ask Him one question, what would it be?"
"Were you really born of a virgin?"
The reporter asked, "Why would you ask that question?"
King replied, "Because that would define history for me."
I've got news for Larry King: Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, and, history is defined by the birth of Christ! The virgin birth of Christ is a game changer!
The virgin birth of Christ is as radical as the fault line of an earthquake ~ in Point Reyes, California stands a fence that is offset a good ten feet from the 1906 earthquake (a replacement fence). The shift of the earth was so great... the virgin birth is like a shift in history, told simply, straight-forward, the simple acceptance of a young girl named Mary...
The vast majority of the chatter on the internet about the Virgin birth is from skeptics, people who want to question the virgin birth. Of course the virgin birth is hard to believe, that is why it is a miracle, yet there is something to simply believing. The fact that God invaded history through the birth of Jesus Christ is astounding. That's part of the faith. Harry Reasoner, in a Christmas essay, said there are three ways for people to view the Christmas stories: “One is cynically, as a time to make money and endorse the making of it. One is graciously, that’s the appropriate attitude for non-Christians who wish their fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them. And the third, of course, is reverently.” Reverently is a good word... a simple faith.
#1: The authority of the Bible is at stake! The virgin birth is a watershed truth that goes to the heart of the authority of the bible. Much like creation itself in the beginning of Genesis, we are taught that God created the world out of nothing/order was brought forth from chaos and confusion/creation is good. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of a renewed covenant with God in which God creates a baby through the Holy Spirit ~ like no other conception. Order is brought out of chaos: “Do not be afraid” the angel tells Mary upon the news of the miraculous conception. And it is GOOD: “you have found favor with God.” The fault line in history is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, as dramatic as the earth shifting ten feet when the earthquake hits. Something completely new invading history, order out of confusion, and it is good.
Far more than a quaint Christmas story, the virgin birth acts as a test of the account of Jesus in the New Testament. Up until about 150 years ago, nobody ever questioned the virgin birth. Now every Christmas we endure articles, investigations, skeptics ~ one of the major news magazines thinks they are very clever to run a front page skeptical article featuring a liberal Christian professor. Very smart people come to the conclusion the virgin birth is not logical. Really? A miracle is not logical? Who woulda ever thunk it? Here's what I know. If you water down the supernatural aspect of the birth of Christ, that Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, then you will be willing to water down any part of the Bible that doesn't quite make sense to you or fit into your thinking. The Bible is reduced to a good book with good advice, but not the ultimate authoritative word of God.
It is a temptation to pick and choose what's true and what's not in the Bible like a smorgasbord of food. The problem when you pick and choose is that you become the authority... Start with the virgin birth: if it is nothing but a quaint Christmas story that you accept graciously as part of a feel good time of year, that sets the tone for your entire Christian faith. If you accept the Virgin Birth as an integral part of the truth of the beginning of Jesus Christ on earth, then you will be eager to embrace the rest of the Biblical testimony of who God is and what God came to do.
#2. The virgin birth tells you something important about the nature of Jesus. It's time to get off the fence. Jesus is not a mere man. He is fully God and fully man. 100%/100%. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a woman. His life did not begin with his birth or with his conception. Unlike every other human whose beginning can be traced to a specific moment in time, we declare that the true life of Jesus Christ had no beginning. Because he is eternal, he existed forever with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This supernatural claim cannot be made about anyone else. God the Father sent his one and only son Jesus Christ to earth as a man. We call this the incarnation ~ God, still fully the eternal God, become a finite man ~ the incarnation. Jesus is fully man, yet without sin. The virgin birth has everything to do with this amazing supernatural person. Jesus is fully human and fully divine. He is fully human because he comes forth from Mary’s womb. He is fully divine because he is conceived by the Holy Spirit. He is not half-human and half-divine. He is the God-man—one person possessing two natures, God incarnate in human flesh.
I love the tiny description of Jesus that goes by almost unnoticed in today's scripture found in Luke 1:35b, “the Holy One.” Jesus is the Holy One! THE HOLY SET APART FOR A PURPOSE ONE NOBODY ELSE. The Virgin Birth is God's way of invading human kind in the most personal way imaginable. The Virgin Birth makes Jesus Christ like no other. When I was a teenager trying to figure out the meaning of life, I had an old poster that hung on my wall that used to intrigue me. It's an old essay about Jesus Christ, written in 1926 by James Allan called “One Solitary Life.” I used to read this over and over as a reminder of the amazing person of Jesus Christ, no one else like him. Note: I took the liberty of updating one line to “twenty centuries have come and gone” (from nineteen centuries):
He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never traveled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
[Twenty] centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life
I've always appreciated that wonderful description of the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ, one solitary life, no other life begins to compare. He is like no other person that has ever lived! The Virgin Birth forces you to confront what you believe about Jesus Christ. Get off the fence! Who is he? Is he the Son of God from heaven? If you answer yes, you’ll have no problem with the Virgin Birth. If you answer no, you’ll have no reason to believe it. I say unequivocally YES! Is he a great teacher and nothing more? Was he a martyr who died for his cause? Is he a leader who came to teach us about God? Or is he God incarnate, the Lord of Glory, the Son of God, our Lord and our Savior? The Virgin Birth forces us off the fence about Jesus. We can’t be neutral and we can’t say the stories of his birth don’t matter. Those who discount the supernatural will have no use for the Virgin Birth, and they will explain it away along with the Bible. But those who believe in a supernatural Christ will find the Virgin Birth a mysterious miracle that, instead of destroying their faith, gives-your-faith-strength!
The Virgin Birth makes a huge difference. The authority of the Bible is at stake. The divine nature of Christ is impacted. And perhaps the most important difference of all:
#3 The Virgin Birth speaks to the purpose of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. You need a Savior! This and any other church can do good and wonderful things for people: a place to find friends, make clothing available, gather items for the homeless, teach, hopefully provide wise counsel, celebrations, public worship, a place for you to use your own gifts, a means of giving, and so much more. But none of that fulfills your deepest need: You need a Savior ~ Jesus alone stands for you before God. No mere man can do such a thing. The name Jesus itself means, “God Saves.” Luke 1:32 pronounces, “He will be great and will be called the son of the most high.”
No mere man, no matter how great, can stand in our place before God! Because Jesus is born of Mary, he is truly human; because he is conceived of the Holy Spirit, he is free from sin. Jesus is fully able to stand in our place, taking our guilt, our shame, our punishment. He is the perfect lamb of God who is able to pay for our sins precisely because he had no sin and no guilt of his own. (If these ideas are intriguing but confusing to you, please talk to somebody because we want you to know Christ today. A year ago I had people stand who were willing to testify of God and 95% of people stood). Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us that we might receive the righteousness of God through him (2 Cor. 5:21). This brings to the forefront Paul’s words in Rom. 5:6, “At just the right time, when we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Only the incarnate Christ, fully God and fully man, is capable of taking upon himself the punishment we deserve. The Virgin Birth teaches us that our salvation is entirely supernatural. When God wanted to save the world, he took the initiative to send his Son. We were helpless even to take the first step in the process of bringing Christ to the world.
The purpose of the Church, the privilege of Christians, is to point the way to Christ. As you embrace the amazing truth of the Virgin Birth, may the fulness of the authority of the Bible be enlarged, may the greatness of Christ be magnified, and may the salvation of Jesus Christ finally change your life forever! Get off the fence: be changed by the miraculous truth of the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.