In order to redeem man from sin
, it was necessary for the Son of God to come down to earth and become a man. This advent was first announced by God just after Adam and Eve sinned, four thousand years before the birth of Jesus.
He said to the devil, "The seed of the woman shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal" (Genesis 3:15)
In the Bible, "seed" can mean descendent. It also means that which issues out of a man or woman to become a child, that is, sperm and egg cells (for instance see Genesis 38:9). Now a normal child is the seed of both a man and woman. However, Jesus is being referred to as the seed of just a woman. Thus, 4000 years before He was actually born, we are being told that He would have a -virgin- birth. His mother would be a virgin!!
Why is this necessary? Why should the savior be born of a virgin? When Adam sinned, he became a sinner, and since then all of us inherit a sinful nature. This sinful nature is inherited at conception:
"In sin did my mother conceive me...through one man sin entered the world...by the one man’s offense death reigned...through one man’s disobedience many were declared sinners" - Psalm 51:5, Romans 5: 12, 17, 19
It is through the man that sin is transmitted to the offspring. Thus, for Jesus to be born sinless, no male would have to be involved in his birth!
About 3300 years after God announces the "seed of the woman", He once again reminds us through the Hebrew prophet Isaiah:-
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel [God with us]." - Isaiah 7:14
Surely enough, Mary, a Jewish virgin living in Nazareth, had an angelic visitor in around 4 BC:
"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." - Luke 1:26-33
Mary had a basic question:
"Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? [that is, I've not had sex with a man]" - Luke 1:34
The angel Gabriel had the answer:
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." - Luke 1:35
Of course, no one would buy a girl's story claiming to be pregnant because of a miracle by God - and pregnancy outside marriage was a big scandal in ancient Jewish society. Mary's fiance Joseph wanted to call off their engagement, "But while he was pondering these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1: 20, 21
So Joseph stuck with Mary - the very fact that he chose to supports the genuineness of the virgin birth.How credible is the virgin birth of Jesus?