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Why Advent II: Why the Virgin Mary?

The question “Why the Virgin Mary?” divides into two questions: First, “why Mary?” and second, as we answer that, another question is born: why the “virgin birth?” So first, why Mary?
First, in order for Jesus to take on flesh and be born under the law, He needed to be born from someone in that condition. If Jesus were inserted into the world fully formed, He would be like mankind, but a separate sort of being, thus unable to atone for us. Being born of Mary makes sure that Jesus is truly human.
Second, God’s favor towards Mary provides a woman with the opportunity to reverse the sin of Eve, the woman who led the first Adam into death. Mary is given the chance to bring the new Adam into life as the firstborn of a new human race.
Third, Mary was engaged to a Son of David. Although Joseph would not be his biological father, he would become his father by adoption, thus placing Jesus into the Davidic, and thus Messianic line. Hundreds of prophecies depended on this, and by choosing a girl who was betrothed into David’s line, God ensured that these prophecies would come true.
A fourth reason (which serves as a bridge to our second question), is that Mary was a virgin, which enables her to fulfill the prophesied sign in Isaiah 7:14. The prophesied child would provide decisive testimony to the miraculous intervention of God into the affairs of men.

Why did God want a virgin birth? Three reasons, nicely alliterated in Donald MacLeod’s book The Person of Christ: 1) for a sign, 2) for sonship, and 3) for sinlessness.
First, as we have already mentioned, the virgin birth would be a sign: a miraculous pointer telling the world to pay attention to this supernatural child! Further, a supernatural virgin birth is a sign of judgment, a judgment against the human race – no one born in the usual way will do. But more hopefully, the virgin birth is a sign of new creation. The last time a man came into the world apart from human initiative was in the beginning, at the first creation, and so when it happens again, it is a powerful sign that God is bringing about a new creation!
Second, Jesus had to be born of a virgin to ensure His Sonship, not to Joseph, but to God. If Jesus had had a human father, he would have been no more than a man, and as Israel’s history had shown, even a man specially empowered by God was not enough to save God’s people. Jesus needed to be born of a virgin so that He could be the Son of God.
Third, Jesus had to be born of a virgin to preserve His sinlessness. In order to avoid inheriting Adam’s sin, Jesus needed an extra-ordinary generation, which is why God chose to bring Him into the world through a virgin birth. Since He was the Son of God, not a sinful son of Adam, Jesus was protected from being born as a sinner. Jesus needed to be born of a virgin so that He could be the sinless sacrifice who would save His people.

So why the Virgin Mary? God’s favor shown to the Virgin Mary was a powerful sign that enabled Jesus to be born of a woman as the sinless Son of God.

What can we learn from God’s work through Mary? First, remember that Mary did nothing to earn this blessing, which is why God alone gets all the glory. So don’t re-write the story to make yourself look good. Advent is about God saving sinners, not pretty good people.
Second, embrace the shame that comes from believing unbelievable things. The virgin birth is one of the most ridiculed doctrines in the Bible, because it brings judgment against man as helpless, transcends the limits of human understanding, and doesn’t leave any glory to man. But Mary inspires us to believe the unbelievable words of God even though the world will mock us for doing so. She knew the embarrassment she was taking on herself, but she joyfully accepted His Word anyway.
So don’t hide the fact that you believe in the virgin birth. Don’t settle for a generic “Christmas spirit” kind of belief that doesn’t contain any strange and supernatural elements. Boldly believe the gospel this Advent season, the gospel that our Savior Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 by CJ Bowen