The Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin
The Bible declares that God decided His Son would have a miraculous entrance into humanity. Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah said,
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel”Isaiah 7:14, NASB
The New Testament records the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary … And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus… “
And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit, will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God … For nothing will be impossible with God”Luke 1:27-37, NASB
The gospel record
The virgin birth is set down in the Bible as an historical fact. The writers who recorded the story were Matthew – an eyewitness to the events in the life of Jesus – and Luke, the doctor, who presents many things in the life of Christ from Mary’s viewpoint, and gathered his information from first hand witnesses, including Mary herself. The passages in both Matthew and Luke are authentic, with no evidence at all that they were later additions to the text.
John reveals Christ as the pre-existent, eternal God, and describes the entrance of Jesus into the world in John 1:14:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”John 1:14 NKJV
Mark, who presents Jesus as the Servant of God, tirelessly doing His Master’s work, provides no genealogical record, nor description of His birth. Such details would not be expected of a slave or servant!
From the inception of the church this doctrine has been upheld by the believing church. Ignatius, who lived at the start of the second century, wrote to the Ephesians:
“For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb by Mary, according to a dispensation, of the seed of David but also of the Holy Ghost.”
I urge you not to consider this as a mere doctrine, or as a touching Christmas story, but to really deeply ponder the breath-taking truth that Almighty God humbled Himself in order to be born as a helpless baby boy, that He might save you and I. Truly, God so loved the world!
Why was the Incarnation necessary?
The Covenant-keeping God.
God has bound Himself to mankind in a special way, and as such obligated Himself to redeem man should He fall from His place of authority. As we have already witnessed, the Godhead bound themselves prior to Creation to this work of redemption which they knew in their omniscience would be necessary.
The sinfulness of man.
When mankind fell in the garden of Eden, they came under a penalty of death, and into strict bondage and servitude to the nature of sin to which they had yielded. Thus a Redeemer was required who was not under similar servitude.
The necessity of the Incarnation
Man sinned and came under the penalty of death:
Adam and his posterity thus needed someone to redeem them from death.
Spiritual law demanded only a man could pay the penalty for another man. Because no man of Adam’s race could do this, the only hope was that God provide a Redeemer. God’s answer was to provide the necessary kinsman through the birth of His Son as a man, through a human vessel, but not from contaminated human seed.
The Nature of the Incarnation
The nature of the incarnation and of Christ’s humiliation is outlined by Paul in Philippians 2:6-8:
Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
“Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!”Philuppians 2:6-8 AMPLIFIED
The meaning of this passage can be summed up as follows:
Kenosis Theory – Christ Emptied Himself
This humiliation required that Christ ‘empty Himself’. This is known theologically as the ‘Kenosis Theory’. The expression ‘made Himself of no reputation’ comes from the Greek word ‘kenoo’ meaning “to make empty”.
Marvin Vincent points out in His Word-Studies in the new Testament regarding this, “The diversity of opinion prevailing among interpreters in regard to the meaning of this passage is enough to fill the student with despair, and to afflict him with intellectual paralysis”.
We will not here enter deeply into the discussion, but will briefly outline the main points regarding Christ’s emptying Himself in order come in the form of a man.
When Christ “emptied Himself:
He DID NOT:
- Empty Himself of His deity, becoming a mere man. He was always and always will be God. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh.
- Empty Himself of the POSSESSION of DIVINE ATTRIBUTES. Jesus did not give up the possession of divine essential attributes such as omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. If Christ has ceased to possess such attributes He would have ceased to be fully God. Rather, He gave up independent use of these attributes, submitting them entirely to the will of His Father.
- Empty Himself of the USE of DIVINE ATTRIBUTES. At times Jesus did exercise divine attributes.
Assume the nature of a man, without ceasing to be wholly and completely God. He took humanity upon Himself. Deity became clothed with humanity. Christ added to His already divine nature a human nature, thereby becoming the God-Man. This did not create a third hybrid nature, but both His divine and human natures remained whole and complete within the Person of Christ. He was both completely human and completely God, not half human, half-God.
Possess and exercise divine attributes.
In His earthly life Jesus exercised His:
- omnipresence: knowing He existed both in Heaven and earth simultaneously. (John 3:13)
- Omnipotence: did works that only God could do, forgave sins, declared the divine name I AM.. (John 14:11; 10:25, 37-38; 15:24)
- Omniscience: Jesus knew all men, and what was in them, in His deity nothing was hidden from His sight. (John 2:24-25; 18:4)
- Immutability: Jesus character, love and life are unchangeable (Hebrews 13:8)
- Self Existence: He offered men eternal life and said that this life was in Himself. (John 8:58; 5:26)
Jesus also displayed the perfect moral attributes of holiness, righteousness, love and faithfulness.
Jesus’ emptying consisted of:
- Giving up the glorious outshining majesty that is the outward expression of the Godhead. (John 17:5)
- Giving up the form of God, and taking upon Himself the form of man. (John 1:14)
- Giving up His self-will in continual submission to His Father’s will.
He taught only what the Father told Him to say (John 5:30; 8:28,35; 12:44-49); Did only what the Father showed Him to do (John 5:36); Exercised only the authority the Father gave to Him (John 10:18); Became completely dependent upon the anointing and enabling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38; Luke 4:14-18); He laid aside independent exercise of divine attributes, only exercising them as the Father willed.