At Christmas we focus on the miracle birth of God’s son—when God Himself was made “manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).
But the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is not the only miracle birth we should think about this season. There are two other miracles: our natural birth and the new birth.
Every natural birth is in its own way a miracle. Pre-med students, studying their textbooks on the developing fertilized egg and its 9-month journey, see the myriad of delicate, exact changes which must take place and will tell you each time a healthy baby is born, it is a miracle. The complexity of the human body is a testimony to our Creator.
And the new birth—when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, when we are “changed from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God”—is another miracle.
But…why the virgin birth? Why did the Second Person of the Trinity come to earth? Why was all that—the cross, the grave, the tomb, the Resurrection, necessary?
The Deficiency of Our Natural Birth
You’re in good company with your question. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, one of the most important men in Israel felt the same. “A man of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews,” he was in the highest echelon of religion, member of the chosen race—the Jewish race—and part of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court. His very name, “Nicodemus,” means “superior.” He had seen Jesus open blind eyes, straighten withered limbs, unstop deaf ears. He said, “Surely God is with this man.” But he came by night to Jesus, needing some answers.
Jesus said to him, in effect, “Nicodemus, you want to understand miracles? Then you’re going to have to become a miracle.”
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘ye must be born again.’” (v. 5-7)
It must have been a shock to this educated, dignified man of Israel to be told that one birth was not enough for him—that he needed to be born again! And if Nicodemus needed to be born again, every one of us needs to be born again. None of us could measure up to Nicodemus.
I’m glad God uses the illustration of birth for salvation, because it’s something we all understand. Jesus is saying, “Nicodemus, one birth for you is not enough. Your natural birth is deficient,” for he was bound to the sinful world, born with a sinful nature. He was a master in Israel, but still spiritually blind. He came to Jesus by night, but there was a greater darkness in his soul; he could not see.
Jesus came to make up for the deficiency in our natural birth. God in human flesh stepped out of heaven, came to earth, suffered, bled, and died, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus came to reveal what the Father is like.
The Efficiency of His Virgin Birth
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
He came into this world through the portals of a virgin’s womb, conceived by the Holy Spirit, no other like Him the only begotten, virgin-born Son of God.
Now, the question comes again. Why did Jesus have to come to earth? Why agony of dark Gethsemane? Why bloody Calvary? If God loves the world, why didn’t God up just simply say, “Look, I forgive you. Are you sorry for your sin? Do you repent of your sin? You are forgiven.” Why did Jesus have to die? What is the efficiency of the virgin birth?
A Ministry of Revelation. Jesus came to let us know, see, and understand the Father.
It was the only way we could know God. You want to know what God is like? Look at the Lord Jesus Christ who could say, “He that hath seen Me hath seen My Father.” The Father says to lost mankind, “I love you so much.” But mankind is willfully blind. Jesus explained to Nicodemus,
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (v. 19-20)
Spiritual blindness isn’t the worst of it. Many shut out the Gospel because if they hear, if they understand, there must come a lifestyle change, and they love evil. They love darkness rather than light. We understand a little child who’s afraid of the dark, but how tragic when a grown man is afraid of the light.
A Ministry of Redemption. Jesus came to save.
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:17-18
Our original father, Adam, sinned. And when he sinned, he dragged the entire human race down with him. Our relationship with God was lost by Adam, who sold it out to the devil. We’re all descendants of Adam, and “In Adam, all die” (1 Cor. 15:22). Adam became a slave of Satan, and the son of a slave is a slave himself. We were born sons and daughters of Adam. The burden of sin is upon us.
You say, “I didn’t vote for Adam. What Adam did has nothing to do with me.” I hope you don’t believe that. We’re all connected to Adam and we received his sinful nature. Here’s where the virgin birth comes in.
Jesus could not be a son of Adam. If He had been, Adam’s sinful blood would have been in His veins. He would have been a slave to Satan, just like every other son of Adam. He had to be the Son of God. Therefore, He is not born of Adam. He is born of a virgin, sired by the Holy Spirit of God, to be sinless. But He had to be a man to pay the sin debt, for without the shedding of blood is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, He had to be the God man.
He came as He did, born of a virgin, to be what He was: sinless. He was what He was, sinless, to do what He did: die for our sins. A sinner could die for nobody else’s sin except his own. He died for our sins to be our substitute. He died that we might be what we are: sons and daughters of God.
He came to earth that we might go to heaven. He was born of a virgin that we might be born again. This is redemption. Thank God for the virgin birth. Don’t think it’s incidental or mythological. It is the foundation stone of our faith that God became man, buying back for us what the first Adam lost.
A Ministry of Restoration. Jesus bought back more than Adam ever lost.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam was merely innocent until he sinned. You are more than innocent; you are righteous when you trust the Lord Jesus Christ. God imparts to you the righteousness of Christ.
When you understand it all, it will make you want to shout. I had rather be a saved sinner than Adam innocent before he ever sinned. We have more in Christ than we ever lost in Adam. What is the efficiency of the virgin birth? A ministry of revelation, redemption, and restoration.
The Sufficiency of the New Birth
When parents conceive a child, they don’t create life; they transmit life. The life of the parents now goes into the child. When you’re born again, God does not create life in you; He transfers life to you. The life of God comes into you. Salvation is not getting man out of earth into heaven. It is getting God out of heaven into man. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
In the new birth, new character is produced. I am the sum total of the characteristics of my parents. There’s nothing in me that was not in my parents, and all that was in my parents is in me, because their character, their characteristics, their natural traits are in me by my natural birth. When you are born again, you get a new character. The character of God is reproduced in you. We become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). A Christian is not like a tadpole that finally matures and becomes a frog. A Christian is more like a frog who has become a prince by the kiss of grace. It is something supernatural. We aren’t just nicer people—we are new creatures, receiving the characteristics and nature of our Father.
The new birth brings a love for Jesus, love for God’s Word, a desire to share Jesus with others, and a desire for holiness. Instead of running to sin, you’re running from it.
The new birth means:
Think about it: the deficiency of our natural birth, the efficiency of the virgin birth, the sufficiency of the new birth. That’s what Christmas is all about. Three miracles, and God in human flesh.