I believe in: The Virgin Birth
I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
How crazy is it that God became a man?
Just think about that for a while! The eternal God incarnated as a human. He somehow put off His glory to don the flesh and blood of His own creation!
The virgin birth is an important part of our faith. It is key. There are some who feel free to undermine the virgin birth, saying things like "it's merely mythology that came after Jesus time, to explain His dubious parentage." However, if we doubt the miraculous virgin birth, then where does it stop? You may as well doubt every miracle, even Jesus' atoning death & resurrection!
The miraculous virgin birth is important for several reasons which I will outline below.
The virgin birth fulfils prophecy. Isaiah 7:14 says:
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
There are some interesting rabbit trails to take with regard to this passage around the nature of the prophecy, it's seeming double fulfilment and the differences between Greek and Hebrew words for virgin/young woman. However, that would not change the way that Matthew understood the text when he wrote his biography about Jesus. He said:
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us")" (Mt 1:22–23).
God's people in Jesus day clearly understood that the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus fitted with the ancient prophecies of the Messiah.
The next thing that this birth from Mary shows us is that it was a historical reality. People knew Jesus family. He was a real figure in real time, born not just to anyone but to a specific woman named Mary, who had a cousin named Elizabeth. She was engaged to Joseph and they were related to King David.
"Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” (Mk 6:3).
Just like the mention of Pilate later in the creed, the acknowledgement of Mary as Jesus mother demonstrates that Jesus was a historical reality. If you were a first generation Christian, hearing the Gospels, there was a real chance that you could travel to Bethlehem and meet Jesus' earthly relatives. He was no myth, even the people in His own community would have known something was up with Jesus birth and made a seemingly back-handed remark: "“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested...." (Jn 8:41).
They would have made assumptions about Mary's "honour" but because of an angel from heaven we know pretty conclusively who the Father was: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Mt 1:20).
While it's not appropriate to worship her, Mary will always be honoured for her role in bringing the Saviour into the world.
"And Mary said...
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name." (Lk 1:46a,48b–49).
Human & Divine Parentage
Unlike the mythologies of the time, God did not take the form of a man or beast and trick Mary into being unfaithful to her betrothed.
The stories of the Greek and Roman gods had them getting up to all kinds of such hijinks. The story of the virgin birth stands apart with a woman not desired for her beauty, but because she "found favour with God." Then it was accomplished by the work of the bodiless, formless Holy Spirit:
"The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk 1:35).
"...she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit" (Mt 1:18).
We modern persons, who have wonderful knowledge about the mechanics of conception may wonder about how it all worked with DNA and genetic components - but it's beside the point. We may not know the details, but we do know that from Mary was born a human who was Son of God. It was miraculous!
We know in retrospect that is was quite important that Jesus be born both as a man, and as God incarnate. But why?
Because humanity has fallen into sin and death, and we need a human redeemer to make atonement for us. However because we are a sinful race, who pass our sin onto every generation, we need a sinless outsider to come in and set things right. We need a "new Adam" who can undo the ancestral sin we have inherited, as well as take away the guilt we have accrued before God. We need a one to mediate on our behalf - a better priest than any we could come up with ourselves. We need the god-man Jesus Christ who was perfect in all His ways to take our sin on Himself and give us His righteousness!
"For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Co 15:21–22).