Luke 3:23, 38 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, … … the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Why is the Virgin Birth of Jesus such an important and essential doctrine in our understanding of the Gospel? Does it really matter if people feel more comfortable in this ‘scientific’ age believing that Jesus’ TEACHING and PASSION are what really matter, and that we ought not make it more difficult for people to come to faith by confusing them with ‘unreasonable’, ‘unscientific’ claims like his not having a human father? After all, we know enough about the human reproductive system to know that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a woman’s ovum to become a foetus unless it is impregnated by a man’s sperm!
But there are at least two good reasons why the truth of the Virgin Birth is absolutely essential to the validity of the Gospel.
The first is that God’s infallible Word tells us that Jesus was born of a virgin, that Mary had had no sexual relationship prior to her conceiving and giving birth to Jesus. Both Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (1:26-38) declare this fact, and Matthew simply reports it as the direct fulfilment of what God had said would happen more than 700 years earlier (Isaiah 7:14)! We also need to note in this regard that our ‘science’ is a helpful system we have devised to describe and predict the way our Sovereign God, as a God of order, USUALLY does things. It is no more difficult for this God, whenever it serves his purpose, to break with this normal pattern and do something differently, in a way that appears to us as a ‘miracle’ because of its break with his NORMAL pattern.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus himself did many such things to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally his Divine Nature as GOD – the Second Person of the Trinity (cf John 14:11; 20:29-31).
The second reason is a theological one. In his classic 11th Century essay, ‘Cur Deus Homo?’ (‘Why did God become Man?’), Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued very cogently that UNLESS Jesus was BOTH FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN we have no Gospel, no Good News. Anselm’s point was this: Only MAN SHOULD pay the penalty for sin (otherwise there is no justice); only GOD COULD pay the penalty for sin (God’s holiness requires a perfect sacrifice and Man’s innate sinfulness, inherited in Adam, makes this impossible). Thus, the only way sin could be dealt with and the descendants of Adam have a basis for forgiveness, is through a GOD-MAN. Therefore, Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry right back to ADAM who himself was made in the image of God. (He does this through Joseph’s line for legal reasons from a human perspective although Mary was ALSO a child of Adam.) This identifies Jesus with all the children of Adam (ie all humankind) – he is ONE OF US. But he was also a ‘SECOND ADAM’, a brand new start – ONE who did what the First Adam FAILED to do. As the Second Adam, Jesus, unlike all of US, lived out his whole life in perfect obedience to the Father’s will. In biological terms, his father was the Holy Spirit who impregnated Mary’s ovum WITHOUT human intervention.
The Son of God became the Son of Man, so that we, the sons of men, might become the sons of God.