Incarnation means God becoming man, a real man of flesh and blood like ourselves (Hebrews 2.14) as we have seen in Booklet No 3. Incarnation is the truth expressed in John 1.14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”; also in 1 Timothy 3.16, “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in flesh”. It is a marvel and a mystery to us how this could be, and yet the Bible tells us about it so clearly that there should be no doubt about it.
It was God’s plan to send His Son into the world to become our Saviour and Redeemer. For this, He would have to die. Before this He would have to live on earth, but how would His life begin? How would He enter the world and take upon Him humanity?
When God put the first man Adam into the world, he began life as a full grown mature man. But when God sent His Son into the world He began His life here as a little baby. You should read again the beautiful record of what happened in Luke 1-2. There we read that the One whom Mary brought into the world as her firstborn son (Luke 2.7), was the Son of God (Luke 1.35).
The prophet had said, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9.6). He had also prophesied, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7.14). The name Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us” (Matthew 1.23). Galatians 4.4 states that “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” And so on the quiet hillside near Bethlehem, shepherds heard the great announcement from heaven: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2.11).
We are considering two unique and miraculous things.
- What happened - the incarnation of the Son of God: He became man without ceasing to be God.
- How this happened - the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus: He was born of a virgin after being conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit.
This subject is very important. Some have said that it is “impossible” for a virgin to bear a child. Some have said that the child Jesus was conceived in some sinful liason of Mary with a man, possibly Joseph. The Pharisees actually inferred this in John 8.41. But they were wrong - such a thing is unthinkable. Jesus is the Son of God, and God could not possibly uase a sinful means to bring Him into the world. The plain record of Scripture is that Mary remained a virgin until after her first baby was born although then betrothed to Joseph. Read the clear personal account of this in Matthew 1.18-25. As for the “impossibility”, we know that “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18.27). Mary herself was told this by the angel Gabriel, “With God nothing shall be impossible”. (Luke 1.37). It was a very special divine miracle for a very special purpose.
It is important therefore for us to know what the Bible teaches about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The special way in which He was brought into the world was necessary so that He could be our Saviour. He could take away our sins only if His perfect sinlessness was assured by being born of a virgin.
In the rest of this booklet, we are going to notice first what actually happened before and at the birth of the Lord Jesus. Then we shall see some of the reasons why He had to be born of a virgin. These are sacred matters, so we deal with them reverently and carefully.