Summary: The Virgin Birth of the Master was fulfilment of a promise forgotten in time.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel’
(which means, God with us).”
I confess that I am of two minds concerning the Advent Season. Certainly, this is a joyous time of the year—filled with parties and good cheer as people seem to be on their best behaviour. However, it is also a time of intense pressures. Unrealistic expectations drive many people to excess. The incident of suicides is increased during this season, the incident of drunkenness with all its attendant problems increases throughout the Christmas season and marital strife resulting from excessive debt incurred during the season is exaggerated.
Nevertheless, Christmas presents a great opportunity to provide teaching about the doctrine of Christ the Saviour—teaching that is woefully neglected by far too many pulpits. The doctrines that are essential, though essentially ignored, are doctrines that address such necessary truths as prophetic fulfilment, the virginal conception, the humanity of the Master, the deity of the Saviour, and God’s salvation and the faithfulness of God. To be certain, addressing these doctrines from the pulpit provides opportunity to teach God’s people in great and wonderful truths. Considered in this light, I welcome the Advent Season.
On the other hand, because these wonderful doctrines are interwoven with the cultural phenomenon of Christmas, many people attend church out of duty during this season, failing to hear what is said. Others dismiss what is said, refusing to connect the dots, as it were. Worse yet are the vast numbers of professed Christians who imagine that they know all about the story of Christ’s advent, and tune out what is being taught.
We are not really so very different from the people who were living in Judea during the days when the Master was born. Many fell into one of those same categories: knowing all about God’s promise, but consumed with their own interests so that they ignored what they knew; dutifully listening to what was said during the days of worship required in the Temple, though tuning out the message that was delivered; or, deliberately dismissing what God had said. God had promised from the fall of our first parents that He would send a Deliverer. All peoples familiar with the promise of God should have been living in anticipation. That they were not eagerly waiting indicates that the promise of His Advent was a promise forgotten in time.