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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy - His was the most unusual birth of all
Larry Sheehy
Larry Sheehy

    The Bible has a lot to say about the birth of Jesus. All of them are important. But none are more important than the manner of His conception. It could be a misconception on my part, but it seems this is a topic not emphasized as much as it used to be.
    In Isaiah 7:14, the Lord said to Ahaz, king of the southern kingdom of Judah, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
    The immediate context of this prophecy is too complicated to explore here. Our interest today is to see how this relates to the birth of Jesus. For years, some have questioned whether the passage should be taken literally; others have denied it outright. However, that wasn't the case with the New Testament writers. Both Matthew and Luke spoke of Mary as a virgin; Matthew quoted in 1:23 the passage from Isaiah verbatim. As with every Old Testament prophecy about Jesus, the fulfillment of this marvelous prediction should bolster our faith in Him as the Son of God.
    There are numbers of practical applications of the Biblical teaching regarding the miraculous conception of Jesus, whose name means "God saves." Paul said that Jesus was sent by God "in the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4-5). The apostle John notes in his teaching about Jesus that "the word" (as he calls him) was made flesh and made his dwelling among men (John 1:11-14).
    An important practical lesson about the conception and birth of Jesus concerns the submissive attitude and response of Mary when she was told by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the "Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32). After her initial question about how this could happen, since she was a virgin, and Gabriel's assurance that it would happen through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary demonstrated her great humility when he replied, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38) Here is an example for everyone. When we are willing to let God's will be done in our lives, we can glorify His name beyond measure. There are many examples of this sort of submissiveness in the Bible.
    As noted earlier, some deny that the Biblical teaching of the virgin birth of Jesus should be believed or taken seriously. In preparing for writing this column, I discovered a helpful comment by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, written several years ago, which bears on the question.
    "Must one believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian? This is not a hard question to answer. It is conceivable that someone might come to Christ and trust Christ as Savior without yet learning that the Bible teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin. A new believer is not yet aware of the full structure of Christian truth. The real question is this: Can a Christian, once aware of the Bible's teaching, reject the Virgin Birth? The answer must be no."
    Not only at this time of the year, but every day, we should thank God for the wonderful gift of His Son!

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