Read: Matthew 1:18-21
Jesus’ mother Mary was a virgin when she conceived, carried, and gave birth to Jesus. She conceived him through the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit, and she remained a virgin until she had given birth to Jesus. These facts are taught explicitly in Matthew 1:18–25 and Luke 1:26–38. Jesus’ virgin birth has at least two important implications. First, because Jesus was born of a woman, he is truly human.
According to passages like Genesis 1:21–28, God’s original order was that his creatures reproduce according to their own kind. One specific result of this fact is that human women always give birth to human babies. This means that Jesus developed in his mother’s womb in the same way that every other human baby does, so that he was endowed with a true human nature, consisting of both a body and a soul.
Gregory of Nazianzus, the bishop of Constantinople who lived from A.D. 325 to 389, wrote about the importance of Jesus’ true humanity in his Epistle 51. Listen to what he said:
For that which He has not assumed He has not healed… If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of [Adam’s] nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole. Let them not, then, begrudge us our complete salvation, or clothe the Savior only with bones and nerves and the portraiture of humanity.
Echoing Hebrews 2:17, Gregory recognized that the salvation of human beings requires a savior that is like us in the fullness of our humanity.
Second, because Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit, his human nature was completely uncorrupted by sin. According to Romans 5:12–19, all human beings bear the guilt of Adam’s first sin. And according to Romans 7:5–24, we’re also corrupted and indwelt by that sin. But the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was born without sin. We see this in 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 John 3:5, and its implied in Jesus’ birth announcement in Luke 1:35. While theologians have always recognized that there is some mystery involved in how Jesus avoided the guilt and corruption of sin despite his birth from a human mother, most agree that the virgin birth points unmistakably to the supernatural sustaining presence and preservation of God by which this was accomplished.
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