Why Does the Virgin Birth Matter?
Updated: Dec 18, 2021
We believe in Jesus Christ,
his only son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
What is the Virgin Birth?
What exactly are we saying when we say we believe Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary?” As odd at it sounds, this is not symbolic language. The biblical story is clear about Mary’s condition when she conceived Jesus. She had never had sex, and was engaged to be married. (Luke 1:27)
An Angel showed up to Mary’s house one day and told her she had been chosen above all women to conceive and bear the son who would be the king of Israel and the savior of the world. Just to make sure we don’t try to offer another explanation, Luke tells us that Mary was confused too. She asked, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)
She is asking, how is it possible that I will conceive a child if I haven’t even had sex?
So what exactly happened?
The angel Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will miraculously work within her body to create a new human child without a male human parent. (Luke 1:35) She has faith this can and will happen and not only agrees to bear the child but worships God for the great honor above all honors to bring the savior into the world. (Luke 1:38; 46-55)
So, when the Holy Spirit works to conceive the child, “The eternal Son, whom God named Jesus, assumed [took on] a fully human nature from his mother, the Virgin Mary, at the moment of conception in her womb.” (Q. 54, Catechism)
This means that when Jesus was conceived he was fully God and fully human. In his one person, he was totally God, not losing any of his deity. Moreover, he humbled himself to take on everything it means to be human, body and soul. He became the God-man, the divine-human savior.
Why would God do that?
After explaining the supernatural conception that will take place by the Holy Spirit, the angel says, “Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
The child to be born would be a human man, born of a woman, yet would also be the eternal Son of God. This is by definition a miracle—The Miracle—yet God worked through the very natural, normal process of human gestation and childbirth.
This is important for two main reasons:
First, everything Jesus did as a human, he also did as God at the same time. (Q. 58, Catechism) It means God knows what it is like to be one of us and has drawn near to us. He understands our pain and our pleasure, our sorrow and our joy.
Second, it means that he can actually save us! If Jesus is not fully man then he cannot represent humanity when he dies in our place on the cross. If he is not fully God then his sacrifice is not perfect and sufficient for the sins of all people. If you think of it like a link, Jesus has to have human hands and divine hands to be able to hold our hands and God the Father’s to bring us back together. Any understanding of Jesus that diminishes either his divinity or his humanity is not only false, but is an understanding of a savior that is insufficient to save.
God had the perfect plan for accomplishing our salvation and it came through the humble birth of the son of God by the Blessed Virgin. We say every week that we believe in the virgin birth, because without it, we do not have a Jesus who can save.