I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!
Scripture: Luke 1:34
Mary, alongside other ancient people, knows the facts of life as well as any modern person: women don’t get pregnant without men—even if she lacked the more detailed scientific information that we now possess.
English Bible scholar Tom Wright puts it like this: “The ancient world didn’t know about X chromosomes and Y chromosomes, but they knew as well as we do that babies were the result of sexual intercourse—and that people who claimed to be pregnant by other means might well be covering up a moral and social offense.”[†]
What would people think if Mary, who was engaged but not yet married, said she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, that she was still a virgin, and there was no human father?
They would think that she’s lying to save herself from embarrassment or shame. This is, in fact, what Joseph thinks when Mary breaks the news to him in Matthew 1:18-19.
And this is one reason that we can be confident that the virgin birth is true: because Matthew and Luke, who each include Christmas stories in their gospels, know that it’s difficult to believe. They know that, like Joseph himself, readers might imagine that Mary’s story is a cover-up for something embarrassing.
Would Matthew and Luke risk including a potentially embarrassing and hard-to-believe story like the virgin birth if it weren’t based on solid evidence? Of course not. They include the story of the virgin birth because they also happen to believe it’s true.
Do you ever struggle to believe in God’s word? If so, you’re in good company! Pray that, as with Mary and Joseph, God will help you overcome your doubt.
† N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: WJK, 2004), 9-10.