Was Mary a Virgin When Jesus Was Born?
There are a lot of people who doubt whether Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. When you read the word “virgin” in the new testament, it can simply mean a girl, or a maiden, or young woman, or it can refer to a woman who has never had sexual relations with a man. And of course it’s that last definition that we’re concerned about in this discussion. And that’s what people doubt. They doubt that Mary was indeed a virgin by that definition.
I guess maybe that’s because it would take a miracle for a woman to have a child while being a virgin, and some people can’t accept a miracle occurring. Isn’t it strange, how some people don’t want to admit that a miracle occurred, and then other people don’t want to admit that miracles have ended. It sure is hard to please people.
In Isaiah 7:14, we read these words; “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will be with child, and bear a son, and she shall call His name Immanuel.” The word in that verse which is translated “virgin” is like the new testament word translated “virgin”. It can simply mean a girl, or a maiden, or a young woman. But it can also mean.. a woman who has not experienced sexual relations.
But again, bible critics say, that word simply means a girl, or a young woman, and that there’s no reference to the idea of virginity as we think of it. If we could only get people to think a little bit.
Let’s just think about that verse from Isaiah again. Isaiah said; “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign.” A virgin with a child was going to be a “sign” for the people. Now, what kind of a sign would it be, just because you saw a young woman who is pregnant? That’s nothing unusual, we see that all the time. So I’m pretty certain, that God was not saying that the “sign” that He was going to give mankind, was simply that of a pregnant woman. That wouldn’t be proof of anything, except that she came together with a man.
No, the “sign” had to be a lot more than that. In the beginning of this chapter, the Lord was talking about saving Judah from their enemies. And now He adds this prophecy about saving them from their sins. And he says; I’ll give you a sign of My salvation, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son. And shall call His name Immanuel.” It wasn’t just any young maiden of child bearing age that was going to be with child, it was going to be a virgin, and the child would be called “Immanuel!”
You know what Immanuel means don’t you? It means.. “With us is God”, or “God is with us”. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, right? (John 1:14) So then the one born of a virgin, the ONLY one ever born of a virgin, would be “God among us”.
Why do you think that the Christ, which means the same as the Messiah, which means, “Anointed One”, or “Chosen One”, had to be born into this world through a virgin? Why couldn’t the Christ simply have “appeared” one day? Wouldn’t we have gotten the same results if Christ hadn’t have been born of a virgin? Why did He have to be born at all? Couldn’t He have just appeared along the Jordan one day, and been baptized by John, and been led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil, and then began His ministry just exactly like He did?
Christ came “to seek and to save that which was lost”. (Luke 19:10) Couldn’t He have done that, by just appearing out of heaven one day, and then going right ahead and sought the lost?
Luke 24:26 says; “It was necessary that the Christ should suffer and rise again on the third day.” Couldn’t Christ have suffered the crucifixion, and then have been buried and raised again, without being born physically? Couldn’t He have just appeared on the scene, and done those things?
Jesus said in John 6:38; “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.” Couldn’t he have come down out of heaven and done the Father’s will without being born physically?
Hebrews 5:8 & 9 tells us that “Although he were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the author of salvation to all those who obey Him.” Surely Jesus could have suffered, and been perfectly obedient, without having to be born physically.
Philippians 2:6 thru 8 says; “Who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, as thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Why would that have required being born of a woman?
Galatians 4:4 says; “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”
There’s a very good reason why Jesus had to be born of a woman. There’s a good reason why He couldn’t have just appeared one day in the wilderness. But questioning how and why God did what he did, is pretty much just typical of people isn’t it? Why did you do it like that? Why couldn’t it be like this instead? I don’t like the way you’ve done it. Isn’t that just typical of people?
There was a poet from the 1800’s named Alfred Lord Tennyson, and he wrote these words; “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.” That’s a pretty appropriate quote, when it comes to what we’re talking about here. And the bible agrees with it; It’s not our lot to question why. “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker..” (Isaiah 45:9). But it is our lot “to reverence God and keep His commandments.” (Eccl 12:13) And it’s also our lot “once to die, and after that, the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
Why should it matter to us, if God ordained that Jesus should be born of a woman? And not just any woman, but a virgin no less? Why should it matter to us if that’s how God said it must be?
Here are the words that should matter to us; “And in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” That’s the promise that God gave to Abram, in Genesis 12, verse 3. And what should matter to us, is if we are among those who will be blessed in Abraham.
Why did Jesus have to be born of a woman? Because it was in Abram’s seed, that we receive salvation. Salvation wasn’t ordained to come through an angel. And it wasn’t ordained to be a direct act of God, but it was ordained that through a man, Jesus Christ, that mankind, should be saved. “For since by a man, came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:21)
And that man through whom the resurrection would come, was to be the seed of Abram. “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham, and to his seed. He does not say, And to ‘seeds’, as to many, but rather to one, and to ‘your’ seed, that is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16) The offspring of Abraham couldn’t have come, unless He was born of a woman. And He had to be born under the law. Galatians 3:19 says; “Why the law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels, by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.”
So Jesus had to come through a certain man’s seed, and He had to come through a woman, and He had to come through the law. Here’s something else that had to be; It says in Hebrews 2:17; “Therefore He was obligated to be made like His brethren in all things..” Listen to 1 Corinthians 11, verse 12; “For as the woman is from the man, so also the man is through the woman..” In other words all mankind comes from woman! Even Jesus the Christ.
Now let me go back to Hebrews chapter 2 once more. I want to read more about how Jesus was “obligated” to be made like His brethren. Listen to verses 14 & 15; “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same, that through death, He might render powerless, the power holding death, that is the devil, and might deliver.. (that’s the same as to rescue) ..and might rescue those, who through fear of death, were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Death isn’t something to be feared, but it’s something to be accepted, and sometimes even welcomed, as a deliverance from the toils and the sufferings of this life. But since we have to be a part of flesh and blood, and since we have to be a part of those sufferings, and since we have to experience death, Jesus also was “obligated” to do the same.
Now verses 16 thru 18; “For assuredly He does not take hold of angels, but He takes hold of the seed of Abraham. (to take hold, means to take care of, and to help) Therefore, He was obligated to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest, in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
In Hebrews 4:15 it says; “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” And that’s the way it had to be.
Jesus had to be born of flesh and blood, and born of a woman. But why did He have to be born of a virgin? Jesus would have been flesh and blood without being born of a virgin. Why a virgin then? Well, for one thing, think back to what it says in Isaiah 7:14; “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign..”
The sign was, that the One who will be born of a virgin, will be the Son of God, the Savior of the world! God was revealing His Son to the world. One of the proofs, that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, was the fact that He was born of a virgin. If the mother of Jesus, had never “known” a man, as the scripture phrases it, then it was impossible for Jesus to BE, just another man. There had to be something special about this man. The world had never seen anyone, who was born of a virgin.
I’m sure that most people didn’t believe it though, just like so many still don’t believe it. Even Joseph had a hard time believing it at first. But isn’t it the same as how so many people still don’t believe in the resurrection? People didn’t believe it then. It says in Acts 17:32; “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer..” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:12; “..How do some among you say that there is no resurrection?” And that’s after Jesus Himself had already raised people from the dead, proving that someone could be resurrected!
Remember what Jesus said at the end of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
If you don’t want to believe, you’re simply not going to believe.
But Jesus was born of a virgin, as a “sign”, as “proof”, that Jesus was not just any man, but that He was indeed the Son of God. Mary didn’t even know how it would be possible for a virgin to bear a son. Remember, the angel Gabriel said to her in Luke 1, verse 30; “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God, (wouldn’t THAT be nice to hear someday? You have found favor with God!) And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”
Why did Isaiah prophesy that He would be called Immanuel? And now the angel Gabriel says He shall be called Jesus. Those are different names right? There’s actually not much difference between the two. The name Immanuel, is an English translation, of a Hebrew name, and it means.. “God is with us”. And that’s what Jesus was, He was, “God with us”. And the name Jesus, is an English translation, of a Greek translation of the Hebrew name, “Jehoshua”, and it means.. “God saves”, and that’s what Jesus does, He saves us.
It says in Luke 1, verse 35; “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for this reason, the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.”
Jesus was the essence of purity. He was fathered by the Holy Spirit of God. (Luke 1:35) He was born of a virgin. (Luke 1:34) He lived a completely sinless life. (Heb 4:15) He died in a sinless condition, as a sinless sacrifice. (1 Peter 1:19) He was raised by the very same Spirit of God, by which He was conceived. (Romans 6:4) And He presently sits “at the right hand of God” (Romans 8:34), as “the great High Priest who has passed through the heavens”. (Hebrews 4:14)
I trust that God has done things in the best way possible, to produce faith in our hearts, and to make possible, our salvation.