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Born of a Virgin

Born of a Virgin

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit." Matthew 1:18 Matthew's first and final words in his gospel concerning the person of Jesus is that He is "God with us." In this opening statement about the birth of Jesus, Matthew says that Jesus' birth will be like the child born to Isaiah who was a sign to the nation that they were not forgotten. The birth of this child was a confirmation that "God is with us" (Isaiah 7:14). And at the end of Matthew's gospel, Jesus declares, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20. Matthew certainly believes that Jesus IS "God with us" and is not merely a sign that God is with us. But why Matthew thinks this may not be the reason that we think Matthew thinks this. For us Westerners, we are likely to imagine that the claim of Jesus' divinity is more or less being presented here in Matthew from a scientific perspective. We imagine that Matthew wants us to believe that Jesus is God based upon the fact that Jesus is born of a virgin. In other words, Jesus is being presented as "fully God and fully man" based upon the fact that He was born with half of Mary's DNA and half of God's DNA. Or maybe all of God's DNA and Mary just happened to be the vehicle for entrance into our world. But this may have nothing to do with the way Matthew perceives Jesus' Divinity. I doubt that Matthew is making his case about Jesus' Divinity based upon the virgin birth. The virgin birth is simply as sign of God's direct involvement. This birth is of God's choosing and will, not man's ("lest anyone should boast" we might add). It would indeed be fascinating to have had the chance to study Jesus' DNA but I think all we would have found was that Jesus was very, very, Jewish, with a little Moabite blood as well (see the story of Ruth). We should remember that Mark and John both believe in the Divinity of Jesus and neither one of them have the Christmas story of a virgin birth in them. They can make the case for Christ's Divinity without the virgin birth stories. But even to put things this way is a little misleading. Jesus didn't come to prove He was God as though the world already knew who God was and what He was like that they might recognize one of His offspring. No. Jesus came to accomplish what God had always said that He Himself would do. God had promised to bless all nations through Abraham's family. God had promised to make everything that had gone wrong in Adam to be made right through Abraham. God had promised to come and establish His rule and reign on the earth as it is in Heaven. And in accomplishing these goals, we come to see that Jesus is the God who had made these initial promises, who was Himself bringing them to fulfillment in and through the person of Jesus. We don't know God in a way that we could readily identify His Son. Rather the Son explained who God is to us. And He did this in large part by making good on God's promises using God's own surprising, shocking, and even scandalous use of self-sacrifice. We didn't see that coming. And we couldn't see that coming. Jesus explained God to us, not in words on a page but in the flesh and bone of a human being who was born, not of the will of man, nor of the will of human beings, but of God. That is why He was born of a virgin.

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