Jesus had no earthly father but was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23, Luke 1:30–35).
What is the significance of the virgin birth? The traditional explanation is that a virgin birth meant Jesus was unstained by Adam’s sin. Since he did not have a natural father, he did not inherit Adam’s sinful nature. It is an oft-repeated explanation, but one that is not found in scripture. The true significance of the virgin birth is that Jesus was not born into Adam’s enslaved family, and only a free man can ransom a slave.
Adam’s sin put humanity on death row. (Romans 5 calls it living under the condemnation of sin and death.) But Jesus was not of Adam’s line. He was born outside the prison. On numerous occasions, Jesus told his disciples that he was not from earth but had come from heaven. “I have come down from heaven” (John 6:38). It’s like he was saying, “I’m not a prisoner. I have come from outside to set you free” (John 3:13, 5:23, 36, 37, 6:29, 33, 38, 39, 44, 51, 57, 58, 8:16, 18, 23, 42, 10:36, 12:49, 14:24, 16:28, 17:8, 18, 21, 23, 25, 18:37, 20:21).
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
“All sinned” means all of us were in Adam when he sinned. But Jesus is not part of the all sinned group. Since he is not of Adam’s line, he’s not subject to the law of sin and death. Sin can’t touch him and death can’t take him. The only way Jesus could go to the cross and die on our behalf is if he chose to.
Throughout history many pseudo-saviors have come promising freedom, but every one of them was a slave to sin. They couldn’t save anyone. We needed a free man to redeem us from the slave market of sin and Jesus is that free man.
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – so that they should live on forever and not see decay… But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalms 49:7–9, 15 NIV)
Moses the Deliverer shows us how this works. Moses was a type of Christ because he was the only Hebrew not owned by Pharaoh. Moses was a free man used by God to liberate a nation of slaves. Similarly, Jesus is the only human who wasn’t a slave, which makes him an ideal savior. When you’re locked up inside, you need help from outside, and Jesus is the definition of outside help.
You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. (John 8:23)
Jesus was constantly telling people that he was not from earth. He was saying, “Since I’m not part of the Matrix I can unplug you from the Matrix.”
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14–15, NIV)
But sometimes those in the Matrix don’t see their need for liberation. This was the case with the Jews. Jesus told them, “The truth will make you free,” and the Jews replied “but we’re not slaves” (John 8:32–33). They were blind to their bondage. The same is true of many people today. They have been told they are sinners and that the remedy is to stop sinning. They don’t know that the situation is far worse, that they are slaves, dead in sins, and in need of Savior.
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)
Near the end of his life Jesus said:
I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me. (John 14:30, NIV)
No hold means no claim, no power, and no ownership. The devil couldn’t lay a hand on Jesus. This made Jesus hard to kill.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it again.
No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10:17–18)
It was not sin but love that caused Jesus to lay down his life for you.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Jesus is the only Savior who can deliver the slaves of sin and he did it because he loves you. What a friend we have in Jesus!
Why the virgin birth is essential
Some say they don’t need to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin to believe that he is the Savior. But the virgin birth is essential for at least three reasons. First, the prophets said the virgin birth would be a sign.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
In the history of the world, there have been billions of births but only one virgin birth. The virgin birth proves that God is with us and not against us (Matt. 1:23). It proves that Jesus came from God.
Second, John the Baptist said Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus could only do that if he came from outside the world. A son of Adam could not carry our sins, but a Son of God can.
Third, we needed a High Priest untouched by sin (see Heb. 4:15, 1 John 3:5), and a virgin birth provides one.
Such a high priest truly meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Hebrews 7:26–27, NIV)
Remove the virgin birth and we are left with doubts. Is God really with us? Is Jesus really the promised and sinless Savior? Did he carry all our sins? Remove the virgin birth and you will have to dismiss two of the Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke) as unreliable witnesses. Truly the virgin birth is essential to our faith.
Who was Jesus’ mother?
Jesus had no mother, at least not in the biological sense. Jesus is the eternal God, the Creator of all including Mary (John 1:1, Col 1:15–16). Just as Joseph contributed no DNA to Jesus, neither did Mary. How could she, since she was just as much a part of Adam’s enslaved family as Joseph. Mary provided a womb, but no egg.
When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.” (Hebrews 10:5, NIV)
The word for body (soma) means a whole body. The Holy Spirit did not prepare half of a body, but a whole one. In the Passion Translation of this verse, Christ says “You have clothed me with a body.”
For most of us, life begins in the womb, but Jesus had no beginning. The Word who became flesh was with God when creation began (John 1:1). Jesus did not need a sperm donor or an egg donor. He needed a body, and that’s what the Holy Spirit provided.
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34–35)
One day, Mary was not pregnant; the next, “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18, ESV). There is much mystery in this. How did the miracle of the Virgin Birth take place? We don’t know the how, but we know the Who. How did the Word become flesh? The Holy Spirit is the answer. “You have made him a little lower than God” (Ps. 8:5).
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. (Galatians 4:4, KJV)
Many translations say Jesus was born of a woman, but Jesus was made of a woman, not born of a woman. The original verb (ginomai) means to cause, to become, to assemble. Jesus body was brought forth within Mary’s womb.
This explains why Jesus could say that John was the greatest among those born (gennetos) of women (Matt. 11:11). Surely Jesus is the greatest of all, but Jesus was not born of woman in the conventional sense. All four Gospel writers refer to Mary as the mother of Jesus (Matt. 1:18, 2:11, 13, 14, 20–21, 12:46, Mark 3:31, Luke 2:33–34, 2:48, 51, 8:19, John 2:1, 3, 5, 12, 19:25–26, Acts 1:14). But she was not his biological mother. Mary was a surrogate mother who carried and raised the child from heaven.
Mary was an extraordinary woman, highly favored by God, and rightly honoured by the Church. Yet nowhere in scripture does Jesus refer to her as mother. Instead, he calls her woman (John 2:4, 19:26). If you asked Jesus who his mother was, he would reply, “My mother and brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21).
Jesus was not being disrespectful to Mary, but like Melchizedek, he was “without father and mother” (Heb. 7:3). First Adam had no father and mother and neither did Last Adam.
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