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WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO BE BORN OF A VIRGIN?

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan, Pastor

A lesson taught at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2020

Hymn Sung Before the Lesson:
“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” (by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

“And the angel came in unto her [Mary], and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:28-35; p. 1071 Scofield).


The Scripture is clear. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb. Joseph was not the father of Jesus, though he later married Mary. Joseph had nothing to do with Christ coming into the world. Neither did any other man. Jesus was conceived inside of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit Himself. All Christians believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ.

But why was Jesus born of a virgin? Why couldn’t He have been put into the womb of Mary by Joseph in the usual way? Every Old Testament giant from Moses to David to Isaiah started that way. Why not Jesus? Tonight I will give you three reasons why Jesus had to be born of a virgin.

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I. First, Jesus was born of a virgin to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.

More than 700 years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Turn to Isaiah 7:14. Listen as I read it.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; p. 719).

Bible-denying liberals teach that the verse should say “young woman” instead of “virgin.” The Hebrew word is “almah.” It appears seven times in the Old Testament. Each of those times it refers to a virgin, a young unmarried woman.

Ancient Israel was not like Los Angeles today. Today most girls start having sex when they’re teenagers. Only a few of them wait until marriage. In our society, waiting until marriage is old-fashioned and stupid. But God’s way is to wait! Sex belongs in marriage and nowhere else! That’s the way it was in Israel. Even the lost Pharisees understood that. The Hebrew word means “virgin.” That’s what Mary was.

But there is a greater reason for believing the word means “virgin.” God Himself said that “virgin” is the right word. We understand a verse of Scripture by looking at other Scriptures. Turn to Matthew 1:22 (p. 994). Look at the verse as I read it.

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:22, 23).

This verse in Matthew clearly refers to Isaiah 7:14. The Greek word translated “virgin” is “parthenos” which means “a virgin.” But it was not only Matthew who said that “virgin” is correct. Matthew was only a man, and as a man he could be wrong. It was God the Holy Spirit who gave every word of the Bible by inspiration in Hebrew and Greek (II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21). God chose the words in Isaiah and Matthew. It was God Himself who gave the prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and it was God Himself who put Jesus into Mary’s womb to fulfill that prophecy!

II. Second, Jesus was born of a virgin to show His divine origin.

Remember that Isaiah prophesied,

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; p. 719).

What does “Immanuel” mean? The Gospel of Matthew gives the answer,

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:22, 23).

Jesus, Emmanuel, is “God with us.” The Gospel of Luke says the same thing, that the Messiah “which shall be born of [Mary] shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35; p. 1071).

Isaiah prophesied that Christ would be divine, that it was right to call Him God. Turn to Isaiah 9:6 (p. 721). Listen as I read it.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

The Messiah had to be God, for the Bible said so. And that Messiah-child who was born, who is “the mighty God,” was Jesus of Nazareth!

Jesus Himself claimed to be deity – to be God. He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30; p. 1130). He said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9; p. 1135). Jesus knew exactly what He was saying – that He was God. The people who heard him, even His enemies, understood exactly what He was saying. Turn to John 5:17 (p. 1120). Jesus said,

“My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:17, 18).

Jesus said that He was God. Now turn to John 8:58 (p. 1127).

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:58, 59).

“I Am” is the holiest name of God in the Bible. More than a thousand years before, God said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14; p. 73). When Jesus said “I am” about Himself, He was saying that He was God. Why did the people try to stone Him? Because He said He was God. If an ordinary man said that, it would be blasphemy. But this was no blasphemy, because Jesus was God the Son.

The Bible says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6; p. 1117). Flesh can only produce flesh. A male dog and a female dog can only produce a dog. A male cat and a female cat can only produce a cat. And an ordinary man and woman can only produce another ordinary human. They can never produce God. How could they?

The only way for the child Jesus to be divine – to be God – was to come into the world in a special way. That’s why Jesus had no human father. God the Father was His Father. And it was God the Holy Spirit who conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary. That’s why the angel said to her,

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35; p. 1071).

That’s why the angel said to Joseph,

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20; p. 994).

Jesus was born of a virgin because He had to be! And that brings us to the third point.

III. Third, Jesus was born of a virgin so He could die for your sin.

There is no question that Jesus Christ died for your sin and mine. The Bible says, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3; p. 1225). The Old Testament says, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity [sin] of us all” (Isaiah 53:6; p. 760). The New Testament says of Christ, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree [the cross]” (I Peter 2:24; p. 1313). Jesus said that He came, “not to be [served], but to [serve], and to give his life a ransom [a payment] for many” (Mark 10:45; p. 1060).

The Bible also says that Jesus had no sin of His own. The Bible says He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15; p. 1294). Again, the Bible says He was “holy, harmless, undefiled” (Hebrews 7:26; p. 1297). Again, the Bible says that Jesus “knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21). Look at II Corinthians 5:21 (p. 1233).

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus “knew no sin.” God made Jesus “to be sin for us.” Jesus was treated as a sinner (though He was not) and died on the Cross to pay for your sin, so that you can “be made the righteousness of God in him.” If you trust Jesus, His death pays for your sin and you become clean in the sight of God.

Why is it so important that Jesus had no sin? If He had sin, He couldn’t pay for yours! He would have to suffer for Himself. Only a Saviour, a suffering Sacrifice who had no sin of His own, could take your sin on Himself and pay for it forever.

You may ask, “Why is it so important that Jesus was born of a virgin?” Let me tell you. Ever since Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, every human being descended from Adam has been a sinner. Adam’s sin didn’t just affect Himself. It made Adam a sinner, and that sinful nature was passed down to all his descendants, down to you and me. The Bible says, “By one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12; p. 1197). Again, the Bible says, “By one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19; p. 1198). And so you are a sinner. If Jesus had been conceived in the usual way, He would have been a sinner too.

Remember what I said. A male cat and a female cat can only produce a cat. A male dog and a female dog can only produce a dog. And a male sinner and a female sinner can only produce another sinner. If Jesus had come to earth in the usual way, He would have been conceived a sinner. He would have gone on to commit sins Himself. And then He couldn’t pay for your sins!

It goes deeper than that. Every sinner, from Adam down to you and me, has a sin nature. Our very nature is sin. Sin isn’t just what you do, it’s what you are. Your nature – what you are inside – is sin. That’s why you did the sins you did. They came out of your sinful nature. You are not a sinner because you sinned. You sinned because you are a sinner.

If Jesus had been born a sinner, He would have gone on to do actual sins. But more deeply, He would have a sinful nature, which is itself sin. He would be unclean in the sight of God before He did any specific sin. And so, He couldn’t pay for you! Jesus had to be completely clean, not just in His life, but in what He was, in His nature – in His very self.

That’s why Jesus had to come into the world in a special way, conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, without sin. That’s the only way Jesus could come into the world without sin. Jesus had to be born of a virgin so He could die for your sin! Thank God He was!

Our hymn, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” says it all. It says, “Offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity…Born that man no more may die.” That’s Jesus! Stand and sing it!

Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King;
     Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies;
     With th'angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ, by highest heav'n adored; Christ the everlasting Lord;
     Late in time, behold Him come, Offspring of the virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity,
     Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
     Light and life to all He brings, Ris'n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die.
     Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"
("Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).