Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 CSB)
The virgin birth stands as a guard at the door of the gospel. It’s God’s gracious way of telling us that what follows is not normal. The story of Jesus will defy our rational minds. If we can’t get passed the virgin birth, how will we handle Jesus walking on water, healing the blind, casting out demons? What will we do with the resurrection and ascension?
The gospel is supernatural. There’s no way around that.
When I first read this way of thinking in Macleod’s book The Person of Christ, where he briefly repackages some of Karl Barth’s teaching on the virgin birth, it was like a breath of fresh air to me.
I think we can feel a bit insecure about the supernatural claims of the Christian faith. We can feel pressure to make Christianity sound reasonable, to give people freedom to believe only the “essentials”… to boil Christianity down to some moral, helpful principles that will make our lives better and make the world a better place.
But the virgin birth won’t have it. It eliminates any chance we have of approaching Jesus on purely natural terms. It demands that we peek above the crowd in our naturalistic culture, doubt our doubts, and believe.
And this is actually compelling, not embarrassing.
Our supernatural gospel is skeptical of any person or group who claims to have all the answers— who claims that everything would be perfect if they were in charge— because our gospel proclaims that only God Himself knows just what to do.
Our supernatural gospel is skeptical of any person or group who claims that the world is doomed— who claims that we’ll never make progress and apathetically mocks the dreamers and reformers— because our gospel proclaims that God Himself entered our world to solve the problems.
Open-mindedness, humility, and the drive to improve our world are made possible by belief in the supernatural. We’re able to doubt our ideas and our perspectives, even partnering with people whom we disagree, because we believe that we’re finite. We’re also able to work diligently to improve our world because we believe that God Himself does the same and will finish the work someday.
This Christmas, let’s rejoice in the supernatural gospel, and cherish the mysteries of our Christian faith.