The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin birth (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27, 34). It all happened when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, a virgin who was betrothed to Joseph (Matthew 1:18), and told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her so she would conceive the Son of God. And she did become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), but this was not done through sexual union but the supernatural, creative work of the Holy Spirit.
Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us.
(Matthew 1:23 KJV)
We know the story, but what makes the doctrine of virgin birth essential to our faith and salvation? Is it that God had to find an elaborate and unique way of bringing the Messiah into the world? Why not natural birth? Upon studying scripture, we can find at least two major reasons.
First, it was to fulfill the prophecy of how the Messiah would be born. The virgin birth was not a hidden plan of God but was already hinted at and specifically prophesied in the Old Testament. After Adam and Eve sinned, God promised a savior—a woman’s offspring (Genesis 3:15). Later on, Isaiah specifically prophesied that God would give a sign: a virgin would give birth to a son, and He shall be named Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah’s prophecy was then quoted by the Gospel writer Matthew in Matthew 1:23 to confirm the fulfillment of God’s promise. It is encouraging to know that even if God has to go through all kinds of trouble at His expense, He will indeed fulfill all His promises to us.
The second and most important reason the virgin birth was essential is that through such a unique way of being born, Jesus cannot inherit the original sin passed along by the seed of the human father; therefore, Jesus was born without the sinful nature of man. If you are interested to know more about Original Sin, there is an article that talks about it, “What Does the Bible Say About Original Sin and Actual Sin?”
Scriptures tell us that sin came to the world through one man, Adam, so death spread to all men because of his sin (Romans 5:12-21). If Jesus were born through the seed of Joseph, then He would have been a human being born with sinful nature. That means Jesus would have been unfit to be the perfect and ultimate sacrifice that will bring salvation to all. The Messiah had to be fully man to be the complete representation of man, be fully God to fully satisfy the eternal penalty of our sins, and be sinless to be the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of all. If you want to know more about Jesus being “fully God and fully man,” please see our article, “What Does the Bible Say About the Full Divinity and Full Humanity of Christ?“
You see, the virgin birth was the perfect method to bring in the Savior as the “flawless sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the world.” This doctrine teaches us that salvation can never come from sinful man. We can never attain or “give birth” (produce) to our own savior in any way—whether it’s through religion, good works, sound ideology, or living a moral life. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus can truly redeem us and give us eternal life. Only His birth, life, death, and resurrection can bring us a new life in Him and through Him. Trust in Him and His finished work on the cross and surrender your whole life to His Lordship, for He is good and forgives and accepts anyone who receives Him.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it
(Colossians 2:13-15 KJV)