Summary: Answers the question about why God chose to have Jesus born of a virgin.
“Why A Virgin?”
Introduction: Christmas time is celebration time. Kurisumasu, omedeto gosaimasu! People around the world, many of whom have no grasp of Christianity, will be celebrating Christmas this year along with the rest of us. Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists - you name the group– well, except the Muslims, maybe. I can’t imagine the Talibani celebrating Christmas.
Christmas for many people is a series of questions that go unasked and therefore unanswered. I want to try and answer some of these unasked questions in this series that will lead us up to Christmas eve Sunday. Today’s question is perhaps the most baffling of all three questions: Why a virgin? Why did God use a virgin named Mary to be the mother of Jesus? Wouldn’t it have been more logical to use an experienced set of parents rather than two novices, one a young teenager at that! And how does a virgin come to be pregnant – and still remain a virgin? Enough questions - on with the answers.
I. THE PROMISE
We read these familiar words every Christmas. We sing them, too. But what do they really stand for? In order to answer that question we have to know why God stated these words to the prophet Isaiah. Herein lies the history lesson of the promised messiah.
In Isaiah 7, we learn that King Uzziah’s grandson, Ahaz, has ascend-ed to the throne of Judah. And as happens many times in history, when a new king is enthroned, other kings gather their armies and go out to battle the new king, to see if they can defeat this novice ruler.
Two kings, Rezin of Aram and Pekah of Israel, have allied them-selves to challenge and possibly defeat Ahaz. This allegiance shakes the people up and they are afraid of being overthrown.
God sends Isaiah to Ahaz and assure him that he will not be defeated by these kings and their armies. To prove that he will bring victory to Ahaz, he speaks: “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.’” (7:10-11) But the young king is reluctant “...to put the Lord to the test.” (7:12)
The Lord doesn’t always give believers the opportunity to “put him to the test.” If God were to tell you to put him to the test, would you? Do you suppose that you’re going to be able to give him a test that he can’t complete? I don’t think so. For whatever reason, Ahaz did not want to put the Lord to the test.
Isaiah conveys the Lord’s response in the next two verses: “Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.’” (7:13-14) In other words, if you won’t ask for a sign, I’ll give you the one I intend. And God pronounces his sign for Ahaz.
The scripture has two interpretations: one immediate sign, and one future sign. A child will be born during Ahaz’s reign, born of a virgin - and this is God’s immediate sign that Ahaz will not be defeated. The future sign of course deals with the Messiah, Jesus, who will also be born of a virgin.
Isaiah 9 tells us more about this Messiah: “The people walking in darkness have see a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonder-ful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the in-crease of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (9:2, 6-7)
We immediately recognize that God must be speaking of some future person, and that person embodies ideals found in no one of human origin. The last sentence is God’s promise that He will bring this to be: “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Is there any promise that God has made that has never been accomplished? None that I know of. The Bible is full of promises from God - some have been fulfilled, some are waiting to be fulfilled.
God gave this promise to Ahaz - you will not be defeated by these armies. God gave this sign to Ahaz as proof of his promise - a virgin will conceive and bear a son. God gave this promise to his people - your Messiah will come one day, born of a virgin; he will rule over his followers. And he has come, and will one day come again - but that’s another question and another sermon.