But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.
“It is no wonder that thoughtful people find the gospel of Jesus Christ hard to believe,” theologian J. I. Packer observed, “for the realities with which it deals pass man’s understanding.” This is especially true of the Bible’s strange assertion that Jesus was born of a virgin. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth makes it clear that His birth was unique. Although His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, “before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” (v. 18). Joseph was Jesus’ father only in a legal sense, not biologically. God was His real Father.
According to verse 22 these events fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Although the Hebrew term that is translated “virgin” in this verse can also mean “young woman,” Matthew took pains to indicate that Mary was a virgin in the literal sense. This was confirmed by Joseph’s response when he learned that Mary was pregnant. His initial decision to divorce Mary quietly makes no sense at all if Jesus was the result of a union between husband and wife.
Matthew’s account of the Virgin Birth hints at the two foundational assertions Scripture makes about the nature of Jesus Christ. He is truly God and He is truly human. As we saw in yesterday’s study, when Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit, He already existed as God from eternity past. At the incarnation Jesus acquired a human nature. The true humanity of Jesus did not make His divine nature less divine. Nor did Christ’s divinity elevate His human nature to superhuman status. Two natures were united in one person.
Apply the Word
The Virgin Birth underscores the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Other women in the Bible gave birth through divine intervention. But only Jesus was born of a virgin. Because He is human, He shares our nature and can sympathize with our weakness. Because He is God in the flesh, He is able to offer us mercy and grace (Heb. 4:15–16).