On the Plains of Moab Blog
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December 5, 2011, 4:38 PM

Still on the Virgin Birth of Christ

The sermon that I preached yesterday on Matthew 1:18-25 was one that I initially used back in 2004.  I used the same title -- A New Creation.  However, the focus then was heavily weighted to the thought that we get so upset over trivial things like the world refusing to say "Merry Christmas" or giving us their blessing so that we can say it in public.  Why not rather, I preached earnestly, give more thought to the reality of the new creation we've become in Christ?  All of the mechanics from Genesis and the Spirit were there orginally, but, I just wasn't getting real excited about the new reality that God was up to in the coming of his son in Bethlehem.

Yesterday, I made an unplanned, unscripted statement that I hope made sense.  I said something like the first coming of Jesus doesn't really mean all that much apart from his virgin birth.  In other words, take away the virgin birth and you deface the Gospel!  Now really, that was a bit of provocative sensationalism there.  But what I meant by it was that God -- in the incarnation -- was demonstrating that with this birth, he was really and truly re-creating creation.  It was Genesis 1:1 all over again -- but this time, for keeps.  The creative juices were flowing through the brooding Spirit of God in the womb of the Virgin.

I believe the virgin birth declares the reality of what God would be doing in Jesus Christ:  Brewing a new creation.  Doing something new in the words of Isaiah.  Something that would blow our socks off!  New creation.  The end of the ages drawing closer.  The Day of the Lord peeking in.  The Kingdom of God dawning.  The incarnational downpayment on the promises of the Old Testament prophets.  God would do this new thing just like he did in the beginning.  This is just how radical the coming of Jesus was -- in theological terms.  (And BTW, just because a biblical story is heavily loaded for theological bear does not mean that it can't actually have happened in time and history!)  [Sorry for the double negative.]

For most of my ministry, and indeed, as a student at Liberty University, I was always taught that the virgin birth was a necessity because Jesus could not come into the world the way everybody else did because he had to remain free from the taint of human sin.  He had to come this way because he was after all, God in the flesh.  [That sounds so silly as I write these words.]  [See what an unreflective, unexamined Christian thought life can do to a person?!]  But, the more I have reflected on this over time, not only is it unpersuasive; it's not even biblically sound reasoning!

Don't miss the big picture here.  Don't forget what God's doing in the world.  Don't overlook the role of the Holy Spirit in creation and new creation.  Now, read Matthew's account of the birth of Christ with new eyes!

Let's turn our attention away from silly agnosticism over the plausibility of the miraculous and bask in the the truth of the nativity.  God really did an incredible thing back then.  And it still rocks our world today!

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