Ash Wednesday Meditation (Day 1)

The Virgin Birth 

Matt. 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-56; 2:4-7, two complementary but independent stories, agree in their record of Jesus’ birth as the result of a miraculous conception. His mother Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit’s creative action before she had any relationship with a man (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35).

Most Christians accepted the virgin birth without hesitation until the nineteenth century. Then it became a pivotal issue in the debate about Christian supernaturalism and the divinity of Jesus. Modernism, hoping to reinterpret Jesus as no more than a uniquely godly and insightful teacher, surrounded the virgin birth with a spirit of unnecessary skepticism.

In reality, the virgin birth belongs with the rest of the New Testament message about Jesus. The eternal dignity and glory that Jesus had before the world began (John 1:1-9) made it natural that He should enter into incarnate life in a way that proclaimed the glorious role He was coming to fulfill (Matt 1:21-23; Luke 1:31-35).

Matthew and Luke are interested in how through this unique birth as a human being Jesus came to fulfill God’s purposes of redemption, especially in tasting human sorrow and dying for sinners. They are less concerned with the virginal conception as a physical wonder or an apologetic weapon.

It is impossible to say whether the virgin birth was the only way Jesus could have come to earth and identified with His people. As it is, it testifies to Jesus’ deity, setting Him apart from all others. It is appropriate that He should be born in this unusual way, since He was not implicated in sin, like all others since the Fall. Mary was not an exception in this respect, any more than David or Peter, though her sins are not recorded as theirs were. ThroughHis death, Jesus became her Savior and the Savior of the rest of the church with her.
(The Reformation Study Bible [ESV]. R. C. Sproul, General Editor. Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries. 2005. 1455)

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