At this time of year, there is no shortage of people proclaiming skepticism or even scoffing at the idea of the virgin birth of Jesus. It was necessary, because the virgin birth was the only way Jesus could live a sinless life free of the sinful nature of pride that is the root of all sins. Nevertheless, the scoffers abound. They seem to catch media attention more often than believers.
The birth of Jesus is one of at least three miracle births in Scripture. God did the “impossible” in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Zachariah and Elizabeth, and Joseph and Mary—three highly improbable births.
The birth of a child to a virgin is a one-time miracle. Mary became pregnant when she was “overshadowed,” by the Holy Spirit of God [Luke 1:35]. Since she was a healthy young woman, the rest of the gestation and birth process proceeded normally. For the God who created the universe, the Earth we call home, and all the plant, animal, and human life that makes up our environment, enabling a virgin to give birth is no obstacle.
A child born to an old woman is an even greater miracle than the virgin birth. At the birth of Isaac, Abraham was 100-years old and Sarah was 90-years of age [Genesis 17:17]. Scripture also tells us that at the birth of John-the-Baptist, his father Zechariah was an “old man” and his mother, Elizabeth, is variously described—depending on the translation—as “old as well,” “advanced in years,” or “beyond child bearing years.” [Luke 1:18] Having never previously given birth, both Sarah and Elizabeth were described as “barren.” The combination of old age and barrenness reduces that chances of pregnancy to virtually zero, apart from the intervention of God.
The birth of a child to an old woman can be viewed as a long-term continuous miracle or long series of miracles. The conception itself is two miracles. The reproductive systems of both the father and mother must be miraculously restored to youthful vigor. The conception must overcome the lifetime of barrenness, which confirms the miracle of the actual conception.
The mother’s womb must be effectively resurrected from the deadening effects of old age to harbor the baby and enable the formation of the umbilical cord through which she feeds and nourishes the baby. Her hormonal system must be quickened to support a growing baby and all the necessary changes to allow her body to carry the baby for nine months and eventually give birth. Prior to the actual birth, the mother’s hormonal system and the flesh and muscles, required for birth, must be rejuvenated to enable them to perform harmoniously at the time of birth.
Prior to the birth, the mothers’ breasts, that have never before nursed a baby, must be restored to youthful vitality to function and feed the newborn baby for a prolonged period of time. Today, the supermarket shelves are stocked with an array of infant formulas and baby foods. No such products were available in ancient Israel. A baby’s survival largely depended upon milk from the mother. Few alternatives were available, except perhaps goat’s milk.
The births-in-old-age enjoyed by Abraham/Sarah and Zechariah/Elizabeth were 2 – 3 year long continuous miracles or two amazing series of miracles from conception until weaning. Compare those long series of miracles with the one-time miracle of conception that occurred within the virgin called, “Mary,” who gave birth to Jesus.
Quite simply, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26 NIV]
Of course the real miracle of Christmas is not just that a virgin gave birth. The greater miracle is that Mary gave birth to the Messiah who came to save mankind from the ravages and ultimate death penalty of sin.
Merry Christmas to All!