"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Hundreds of years before Jesus’ coming, God made a most unusual promise. He promised that a virgin would give birth. He promised to do something humanly impossible and even laughable. God promised that Jesus’ coming would be a miracle. There has been much debate over the years about this virgin birth... specifically why was it necessary that Jesus was born by a virgin? Is there a reason? Was it an incidental promise? Or was God promising something much bigger than merely the miracle of the virgin birth?
A key into the meaning of this promise comes in the next words of Isaiah, telling us that the child’s name would beImmanuel, meaning “God with Us.” This name for Jesus is theologically packed full of meaning. The identification as Immanuel points us to the bigger miracle of God’s promise through Isaiah... while it is a miracle that a virgin would give birth to child without a human father, it is a bigger miracle that this child would be God with us.
This is where the significance of the virgin birth comes in. If this promised child would himself be God, and God himself is without the depravity of sin, then Joseph could not have been Jesus’ father. We are born into our fallen and sinful condition as the sin of Adam is reckoned to each of us through our father (Romans 5:12). This is not an indication that males are more sinful than females but merely that Scripture points to the male line as the one through whom our sinfulness is inherited. All this to say, Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth was not incidental, but it was an essential promise that Jesus Christ would be Immanuel—God with us— a perfectly sinless Savior. He would be fully human, born of the virgin, and he would be completely sinless, the Son of God.
So the miracle of Christmas is not merely that Mary had a child without a human father; the greater miracle we celebrate is that this child’s Father is God. The virgin birth is a reminder to us Jesus was not just a great man or great teacher; he is our Immanuel who came to us as fully human and fully God so that he could stand in our place at the cross and so that we can stand in his place in the presence of God. This is the miracle of Christmas. This is the hope of Advent.
So I pray that the virgin Mary would not just be another sentimental figure in the nativity scene but that she would be a reminder to us that Jesus Christ is our Immanuel. I pray that we will celebrate this Christmas the promise of Isaiah that has been fulfilled in Christ.
Immanuel has come.
And that’s a reason to celebrate.
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"May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:74