“The Virgin’s Name Was Mary”
1. Important to the identity of our Lord Jesus Christ is the fact that He was born to a virgin. In the verse from which I lift my text this morning, Luke 1.27, we read of the Lord Jesus Christ’s mother, “the virgin’s name was Mary.”
2. Our English name Mary comes from the Greek mariam, which was the same name as Moses’ and Aaron’s sister Miriam. It was a common name among the Jews of that day, and the name “probably means ‘excellence.’”
3. We know Mary was a sinner because she claimed that she had a savior, something only sinners need. Luke 1.46-47 records her own words in what is commonly referred to as Mary’s Magnificat. She said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” So, the assertion that Mary was a sinner is incontestable. She admitted to being a sinner in her praise to God.
4. We also know Mary was a sinner because she offered a sacrifice for her own sins. In Luke chapter 2, we read that Mary took her newborn son to the Temple to present Him to the Lord eight days after He was born. We also read, in Luke 1.24, that she offered “a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
5. There are only two people that young mother could have offered sacrifices for, her newborn Son or herself. If you claim she offered a sacrifice for her newborn Son then you are suggesting the Lord Jesus Christ was a sinful child. But if you read Leviticus chapter 12 you will see that Mary was simply offering the prescribed sin offering called for in the Law of Moses for the mother of a newborn to atone for her sins.
6. In addition to knowing Mary was a sinner, we know that the Lord Jesus Christ was not her only child. He was her firstborn child, according to Matthew 1.25 and Luke 2.7. And while it is true that an only child is technically a mother’s firstborn child, there is evidence showing that Mary gave birth to other children after the Lord Jesus Christ was born.
7. Listen to the reaction of the people of Nazareth the first time the Lord Jesus Christ returned to the city of His upbringing after He gained notoriety for working miracles in other locales. I read from Matthew 13.54-56:
54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
8. Mark 6.3 records the same reaction by the people of Nazareth. They had known Him almost His whole life. They knew Joseph, and they knew His mother Mary. Furthermore, they knew James, Joses, Simon and Judas, and His sisters. The logical and reasonable conclusion from their reaction in Matthew’s and Mark’s gospel account is that Mary had at least six more children after she gave birth to the Savior.
9. This should not trouble you in any way. Having children after she delivered the Christ child as a virgin only establishes that Joseph and Mary consummated their marriage after the birth of the Son of God, and that they were in every way normal people. Mary was a sinner, but she was a saved sinner. Mary was a wife and mother, and she was a normal wife and mother.
10. Where Mary was exceptional, and hers was an exception that owed nothing to merit on her part, but was solely the result of God’s electing grace, was in being sovereignly chosen by God to be the vessel by which His Son would take on flesh and become a man.
11. So, I stand before you today, declaring to you that Bible believing Christians have always adhered to the doctrine of the virgin birth of the Son of God. We just do not add to the Bible by claiming that Mary was herself immaculately conceived, or by claiming that Mary was somehow sinless in her own nature, or that she was a perpetual virgin.
12. All that was required by God was that she be a descendant of King David who was a virgin. And it is the virginity of Mary that we will focus our attention on this morning. Not anything like a perpetual virginity, mind you, because she was no perpetual virgin. But it is of utmost importance for us to recognize the absolute necessity of her being a virgin when she gave birth to the Son of the living God.
13. Allow me, in the time remaining this morning, to give you four reasons why the Lord Jesus Christ’s mother, Mary, had to be a virgin when she gave birth to Him:
1A. First, MARY HAD TO BE A VIRGIN TO FULFILL THE PROTOEVANGEL
1B. If you are familiar with the account of Adam’s and Eve’s fall into sin that is found in Genesis chapter 3, then you are probably also somewhat familiar with their attempt to hide from God after sensing themselves naked and covering themselves with fig leaves they had sewn together.
2B. Beginning with Adam, and then Eve, and ending with the serpent, God confronted each of them about their involvement in the great disobedience against Him. Interestingly, when God pronounced His judgment, He began with the serpent, and then dealt with Eve, and concluded with Adam.
3B. It is in God’s remarks to the serpent that we find what is called the protoevangel. I read Genesis 3.14-15:
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
4B. The protoevangel is found in verse 15, so called because it is the gospel in seed form, an embryonic statement of the good news concerning God’s provision for man’s sin. And how astonishing it is that God’s provision for the sinner’s salvation is stated so soon after the onset of sin that brought on the darkness of man’s depravity.
5B. Why was it necessary for Mary to be a virgin? Verse 15 tells us: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God’s plan to deal with sin would be fulfilled, not by man’s seed taking action against the serpent’s seed, but “her seed” bruising the serpent’s head, even though the serpent would bruise her Seed’s heel.
6B. This is the sacrificial death of Christ, the “seed of woman,” foretold thousands of years before Christ was born, so that He might die a substitutionary death on the cross and wash sins away with His blood. In order to be the “seed of woman” He could not have a father from among men. To be the “seed of woman” He would have to be born of a virgin. Mary was that virgin. She gave birth to the One Whose heel was bruised, speaking of course of Calvary’s cross, but who in turn crushed the head of the serpent.
2A. Next, MARY HAD TO BE A VIRGIN TO FULFILL THE KINSMAN-REDEEMER QUALIFICATION
1B. Throughout the Old Testament we see allusions and prefigurements of the Lord Jesus Christ. But one of the most satisfying is the provision in the Law of Moses for what is called the kinsman- redeemer, or Goal.
2B. Perhaps you are familiar with Matthew 22.23-28:
23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.
27 And last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
3B. We frequently focus so much on the Lord Jesus Christ’s response to the Sadducees who asked Him this question that we pay no attention to the underlying provision in the Law of Moses which made such a question possible. On one hand, God’s provision for a kinsman-redeemer established a protocol for family units and inheritances to remain intact even if a man suddenly died without offspring, with the kinsman-redeemer marrying the dead man’s wife and raising up children to preserve his family, to maintain his inheritance, and to stabilize the society. Those who were sold into slavery, as well as land that had fallen into the hands of a non-family member, could also be redeemed under this provision.
4B. But there was another, more important, reason for the establishment of the kinsman-redeemer provision in the Law of Moses to govern the lives of the Israelites; to be a type of the Savior. I will let you read Deuteronomy 25.5-10 and the book of Ruth to gain some background about this concept, but this morning allow me to simply state the qualifications of a Goel. For a man to redeem some one or some thing, either a widow who died without issue, land that had fallen into the hands of someone not related to the deceased, or even some relative who had been sold into slavery, he had to be qualified. He had to be of near kin, he had to be able to redeem, and he had to be willing to redeem.
5B. Consider what would happen if the kinsman-redeemer was not a blood relative of the widow or the slave, or the deceased property owner. In such a case he could not redeem and return to the safety of the family the widow, the slave, or the property. Then there is the problem of the kinsman-redeemer who was closely related, but unable to pay the price of redemption. Next, there is the problem of willingness. What if a man was both closely related to someone who needed redemption from slavery or someone widowed without children, and he was fully capable of paying the redemption price . . . but he was unwilling? You cannot make a man sacrifice to redeem someone.
6B. Enter the Lord Jesus Christ, our kinsman-redeemer who was born of the virgin Mary. By means of the virgin birth the Lord Jesus Christ became a man, making Him our close kinsman. But because He is the Son of God who became a man, He became our kinsman who was able to redeem, born into the human family and still fully God, the second person of the trinity; the God-man.
7B. The only question that remained through the Savior’s life and earthly ministry was His willingness to redeem. Listen to what Jesus said in John 10.11, giving us insight into His willingness to redeem: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” And how did He back up His words? He suffered and bled and died to redeem us from our sins. In Titus 2.14, Paul told Timothy that the Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
8B. Would you not agree that the provision for a kinsman-redeemer is a wonderful type of the Lord Jesus Christ as our redeemer, foreshadowing and prefiguring the three qualifications only He could completely fulfill? He was our kinsman, He was able to redeem, and He was willing to redeem. And only by means of the virgin birth was this willing savior able to become our kinsman, blood related to us by His virgin birth.
3A. Third, MARY HAD TO BE A VIRGIN TO FULFILL THE DAYSMAN QUALIFICATION
1B. Turn to Job chapter 9. You know, of course, of Job’s terrible afflictions and his judgmental friends. I want you to read Job’s comments to one of his friends, a man named Bildad.
1C. In the last half of verse 2, Job asks Bildad, “. . . how should man be just with God?” That has always been the right question to ask. But Bildad had no answer.
2C. In verse 20, Job rightly comments to him, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.”
3C. In verse 32, Job is correct in his assessment about his inability to reconcile with God: “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.” How can a small and insignificant man come to the place where he can meet with the infinite and omnipotent God? How can you hold a small birthday cake candle in your hand and light it by holding it close to the sun? As the sun will consume both you and the candle by the intensity of its fire, so our God, Who is a consuming fire, cannot be approached by a sinful man.
4C. Therefore, in verse 33, Job expresses to Bildad the desire of his heart about himself and God: “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” What is a daysman? John Gill correctly observes that a “daysman” is someone who steps between two who are estranged and functions as an “umpire” or “arbitrator” to bring about a reconciliation. And notice what Job wants this daysman, this umpire, this arbitrator to do. He wants someone who will “lay his hand upon us both.”
5C. Who could possibly lay one hand on the shoulder of a sinful man and lay his other hand on the shoulder of the Almighty God? To do such a thing the referee, the daysman, would have to be man to lay his hand upon the shoulder of man, and would have to be God to lay His hand on shoulder of God, to reconcile the sinful man to the holy God.
2B. Do you see the Lord Jesus Christ prefigured in this chapter as this daysman that Job longs for? Consider your dilemma: Not only is God infinitely immense while you are but a speck of cosmic dust in the far corner of the galaxy, but God (terrible in majesty and unimaginably holy) finds you both outrageous in your rebellion and also repugnant in your moral defilement and uncleanness. So you see, for a reconciliation to be accomplished someone has to be both God and man, someone has to stand as a mediator between God and man.
3B. Of course, it is impossible for any man to become God. It is a lie of the devil that the creature can evolve and progress to become godlike. What must happen is that God becomes a man. And what did happen, by being born of the virgin Mary, is that the Son of God became a man. And as the God-man, as the daysman, imagine that He can place His hand on sinful man’s shoulder, while placing His hand on immense and holy God’s shoulder, to reconcile sinful man to holy God. He had to be born of a virgin.
4A. Finally, MARY HAD TO BE A VIRGIN TO FULFILL OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY
1B. The most famous prediction in the Bible concerning the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore the verse most frequently attacked by the anti-Christ, anti-God, anti-Bible crowd, is Isaiah 7.14. Please turn to that verse: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
2B. There are two ways in which the infidels attack this predictive prophesy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin: First, there were those who attacked the genuineness of the book of Isaiah. For scores of years infidels criticized and sought to undermine the book of Isaiah, claiming that it was not written by one author seven centuries before Christ, as internal evidence suggests. The opening sentence in Isaiah clearly shows when Isaiah lived and wrote: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” Clearly, the prophet lived during the days of those kings of Israel.
3B. But the wicked infidels, who refused to consider even the possibility of God’s supernatural work in the lives of men, either to inspire predictive prophesy or to send His beloved Son by means of the miracle of the virgin birth, made a ridiculous claim. They claimed the book of Isaiah was not only not written centuries before the birth of Christ, but that it was actually written by two or three different authors and was then put together by editors to make it look like a single book. For a number of years so-called scholars chortled, thinking they had proven that book of the Bible to be unreliable.
4B. But something happened east of Jerusalem in 1947 that turned the world of the Bible deniers upside down. A Bedouin boy discovered some pottery vases in caves near an ancient settlement in the desert to the northwest overlooking the Dead Sea. The place is called Qumran, and in the caves, along with other artifacts, two almost complete scrolls of the book of Isaiah were found, with the most famous scroll dated by archaeologists to 100 B. C. What did that newly discovered ancient text of Isaiah reveal? Three things: First, it revealed that the book of Isaiah has always been a single book of the Hebrew Old Testament. Second, it revealed that the book of Isaiah was definitely written before the birth of Christ, since those copies were dated from before the birth of Christ. And finally, it revealed that the infidels were wrong in every way about the book of Isaiah.
5B. A second type of attack used by infidels against the virgin birth of Christ is false scholarship in another discipline. It takes the form of an attempt to persuade people that the Hebrew word translated “virgin” in this verse refers to a young woman and not a virgin. Again, just as before, the motive is to deny belief in the supernatural and to undermine people’s belief in a virgin birth. But even a child can see through this lame ploy. After all, how would a young woman having a baby be a sign showing who the Messiah is? Are not most of the people who deliver children young women?
6B. No. The infidels are wrong when they attack the legitimacy of the book of Isaiah, and they are wrong when they try to mislead people into misunderstanding an easily discerned meaning of a word. God does work miracles, and He does involve Himself in the affairs of men. And in Isaiah 7.14, He used His prophet Isaiah to forecast an astounding miracle to be fulfilled seven centuries later that would be a sign indicating who the Messiah is. A virgin would conceive and bear a son. His name would be called Immanuel, meaning God with us. In other words, God would be born to a virgin.
7B. Thus, in order for this powerful prophecy to be fulfilled, some 700 years after it was delivered, Jesus Christ had to be born of a virgin.
1. We are one week from Christmas day, when we will celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, to a virgin name Mary.
2. There are certain things a person has to believe before he can become a Christian. And while you can believe these things and not be a Christian, you cannot deny these things and have any hope of becoming a Christian.
3. One of these beliefs that are central to the Christian faith is the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you do not believe Jesus Christ was born of a virgin named Mary you are not a Christian.
4. To put it another way, you have to believe Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. It is not an option, for no less than four reasons that I have rehearsed to you today.
5. First, Jesus had to be born of the virgin Mary in order to fulfill the protoevangel. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then what God said to the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned, what Adam and Eve witnessed God say, was not fulfilled and we therefore have no gospel message to preach.
6. Next, Jesus had to be born of the virgin Mary in order to fulfill the kinsman-redeemer qualification. Only by being born of a virgin could the Lord Jesus Christ become our kinsman Who was both willing and able to redeem us from our sins.
7. Third, Jesus had to be born of the virgin Mary in order to fulfill the daysman qualification. Remember that Job longed for and understood the great need of a referee, of an umpire, of a go-between who could mediate between puny, sinful man and powerful and holy God. When Jesus was born of the virgin Mary the Son of God became a man, the God-man. Being man, He could relate to man. Being God, He could relate to God. Being the God-man, He and only He could reconcile sinful man to holy God.
8. And finally, Jesus had to be born of the virgin Mary in order to fulfill predictive prophecy. If God cannot predict the future He cannot affect the future. If He cannot predict the future He does not hold the future. Therefore, for His holy Word to retain its credibility it was absolutely necessary that Jesus be born of the virgin Mary as was predicted more than 700 years before.
9. The point of this sermon on the virgin birth of Christ? That Jesus was born of a virgin. That it is reasonable to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. That it is necessary to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. That those who do not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin are not Christians. And to show that the virgin birth is a doctrine so central to the core of our Christian faith that Christianity is not Christianity without the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
- Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1994), page 170.
- John Gill, The Collected Writings of John Gill - Version 2.0, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000-2003)
- Http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/qumdir.htm 12/17/05