Summary: Sermon regarding the textual evidence and the theological significance of the virgin birth of Christ
Text: Matthew 1:18-25, Title: The Virgin Birth, Date/Place: NRBC, 12/13/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: A group of Bible scholars have unanimously agreed that Jesus had a human father, but they are uncertain who it was. Thus, according to these scholars, Jesus was not born of a virgin, was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, was and is not literally the Son of God, but is in the same category with other great religious leaders who were conceived and born in the usual manner. The article states that the birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke are fictitious. The church fabricated the story about the virgin birth of Jesus in order to give Him more status, according to these scholars. The seminar admits there is some uncertainty concerning who the father of Jesus was. Some say Joseph, some say Mary was raped, but none are willing to accept the biblical narrative at face value. The biblical account of Mary’s miraculous conception by the power of the Holy Spirit is dismissed by these scholars as a theological statement having no historical validity. A poll of 7,441 Protestant clergy showed a wide variation in belief. The following ministers do NOT believe in the virgin birth: American Lutherans 19%, American Baptists 34%, Episcopalians 44%, Presbyterians 49%, Methodists 60%, Millard Erickson says, “Next to the resurrection, the most debated and controversial event of Jesus’ life is the virgin birth.”
B. Background to passage: Last week we saw the announcement of the highly favored status of Mary and Jesus, particularly from Mary’s perspective. This week we will see what immediately follows, as Mary is found pregnant by Joseph.
C. Main thought: These two texts are clear testimony to the biblical evidence of the virgin birth, and here’s why it is so important to our faith.
A. Textual Evidence
1. I am going to give you six reasons from this text that testify to the truth of the doctrine of the virgin birth. 1) Matthew corroborates, or I guess provides the basis for, Luke’s claim that Joseph and Mary were in a betrothal period. Explain Jewish marriages. 2) He specifically states that this text recounts a time “before” (and undisputed word in the Greek manuscripts) they had come together. This would have meant before they lived together and before they enjoyed any sexual relations. 3) Next the text says that she was found to be with child “of the Holy Spirit.” If fact it makes this declaration twice, as later God says to Joseph that the child “conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” So explicitly we are told that the Holy Spirit is the father of the child that Mary is carrying. 4) Joseph was going to divorce her privately, rather than have her stoned to death, because she was pregnant during the betrothal time, and he was not the father. 5) Matthew also reminds us that this virgin birth was prophesied long ago, and that Jews of his day were expecting a Messiah with a miraculous birth; and that His name would be called “Immanuel.” 6) And finally the last two verses in this text say explicitly that Joseph went through with the marriage ceremony, and yet did not consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born (which also assumes that normal marital relations began after that time). And note that Joseph named Him Jesus, as he was commanded.