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Advent Devotional: Third Sunday of Advent

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A Virgin Shall Conceive

December 17, 2017

Alto Recitative: Behold! A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel: God with us. Isaiah 7:14

This aria begins with the word “Behold” to call attention to the momentous birth announcement that follows. It ends with the phrase “God with us” to explain the meaning of the Hebrew name “Emmanuel” and to show why the Messiah’s birth is so important: God himself has come to live with his people.

Isaiah’s prophecy also affirms a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith: the virgin birth of Christ.

Why is the virgin birth so important? Why does it matter whether or not Jesus was conceived in a miraculous way?

The reason it matters is that our salvation depends on it. The virgin birth brings together the Messiah’s true humanity and genuine deity, both of which are necessary for his saving work.

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is one person with two natures—a divine nature and a human nature. This unique identity as one person in two natures qualified the Messiah to carry out his saving work. For in order to save us from our sins, he had to be God as well as man. Both his humanity and deity were necessary for our salvation.

God’s justice required a human being to fulfill the law and to pay the price of sin. Therefore, in order to be our Savior, the Messiah had to enter fully in to our situation. He had to be Immanuel—“God with us.”

If Jesus had not been born of a virgin, he would have been born a sinner and thus unable to accomplish our salvation. His sufferings and sacrifice never could have atoned for the sins of the world. Even if he had been morally perfect, he only would have been able to keep God’s law for himself.

But Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was truly God, and thus his obedience and his atonement were of infinite merit. The blood that was shed on the cross was the blood of Immanuel—God with us.

How would you—in your own words—allay the doubts of others inclined to question the historicity of Christ’s virgin birth?


Let Us Pray

Brothers and sisters, as we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Christ, who is Immanuel, “God with us,” let us pray for the needs of the church, our community, and the world. Amen.

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