Christmas is under attack. But it’s not what you think. The real threat isn’t from the school systems that outlaw nativity scenes. It’s more covert than that. It comes from those claiming to be followers of Christ. Those who say that the virgin birth of Jesus is no big deal.
Well, does the virgin birth really matter? And if so, why?
Imagine that you are the parent of a teenager. A wild teenager. The type that you would find on The Maury Show. One that smokes weed at the breakfast table and sneaks out of the house on a regular basis, sometimes not returning for a day or two. Your heart breaks at each disrespectful word that he directs your way. Your fears consume you as you wonder where his reckless lifestyle will lead him.
You’ve tried everything. The parenting class at church only helped a little. That commercial on the radio where the guy promises to change your child’s behavior in one minute or less turned out to be a scam. You can’t afford an in-home drill instructor. Maury won’t return your calls. All of the other ideas you’ve had are illegal. There seems to be no hope.
So you decide to go to friends for advice and any kind of support you can get.
You explain your situation to your neighbor. Your feel encouraged as she nods along with you. Maybe your situation isn’t as dire as you thought. Maybe other parents are facing the same problems that you are. Finally there seems to be some hope. But you have to ask one question.
“So what did you guys do? How did you finally get control of your kid?”
“Control? We gave up on that years ago. Mainly we just drink. A lot. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my morning vodka.”
You leave feeling more discouraged than ever. But there are other friends to consult.
The lady at work says that she understands what you’re going through. She even seems to sympathize with your struggles. So much so that she barely lets you get started telling your story before she interrupts with her own.
“I know exactly how you feel. Our little Sammy came home the other day with, now get this, a 93 on his math test. We were furious! So we told him that he would only get to serve food at the homeless shelter three days this week instead of his preferred four. That’ll show him. And what was your problem again?”
That was like having a conversation with someone from another planet. Now you really feel like a terrible parent.
But there’s another friend who loves you enough to notice what’s been going on. She calls and listens to your story. At the appropriate times, she interjects with her own hardships from the days when her kids were teenagers. It’s encouraging to hear that it wasn’t always easy for this seemingly perfect parent. And it’s even more encouraging once you consider the character and integrity of your friend’s now grown children. For the first time you feel hopeful. All because you talked to someone who has been there. Someone who has been there and survived with honors.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)
When we take our concerns to the Father, we do so through Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son. Immanuel. God with us.
Unlike the parent who has given up and turned to the bottle, he is God. Because he was born of a virgin, he is free from Adam’s guilt. When Adam was tempted, he gave in and, as a result, was forced to leave the garden. When Jesus was tempted, he remained pure and, as a result, forced Satan to go away from him.
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan!” Matthew 4:10a (ESV)
But in his perfection, Christ is not like the parent who is so out of touch with reality and leaves us feeling even more beaten down. Along with being an actual human being, he remained God. He was tempted in every way that we are. But without sin. Therefore, he sympathizes with us in our weaknesses. But he does so as one who has already conquered those weaknesses.
This is why the virgin birth matters. So that in living with us Jesus could free us from slavery to Satan (Hebrews 2:14) by living a perfect life, dying in our place and coming back from the grave. All of this is lost without the virgin birth. If Jesus’ birth is not “from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20) but the result of two of Adam’s children, he’s just another dead sinner like us. And studies show that dead men are terrible at bringing other dead men back to life. But because God did the seemingly impossible, we can look back to the manger and see more than just another baby.
He is God.
And he is with us.