26 December 2014

The Virgin Birth: A Christmas Devotional

Today's guest post is by my dad, Dr. George Rhoades. You can read more about him at the end of this Christmas devotion. 




Luke 1:26-38 (NASB)
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."  But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.  The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Questions for your family:

1. What have you learned from this passage?

2. Why was Mary chosen to be the Mother of Jesus?
    We see several reasons that Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  First she was from the line of King David, therefore giving Jesus the right to take over "the throne of His father David."  The genealogy for Jesus Christ through Mary is believed to be the one given in Luke 3: 23-38.  The genealogy through Joseph, his step-father is believed to be the genealogy found in Matthew 1:1-17. The angel Gabriel told Mary that the Kingdom of Jesus would never end.
   
    Another reason that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus is that she was a virgin.  She did not have an intimate relationship with a man and as such it could be said that Jesus had no earthly father.  This was important as he was to be called "the Son of God" and not the son of Joseph or any other man.

    The third reason that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus was that she had "found favor with God." The Greek implies that God "found" favor in Mary and the word here may be defined as "grace."  This can either be an attractive appearance or attractiveness of her attitude and thus mind. It is reasonable that God found Mary to have that attractiveness in her attitude and mind and thus also her appearance.

3. How old was Mary and why is the Birth of Jesus a miracle(s)?
    It was the custom/tradition that most Hebrew girls in the time period of Mary and Joseph were to be married by the end of age 12. Because it would take Mary nine months to carry the baby Jesus to term, many Bible Scholars have felt that Mary was around age 14 when she gave birth to Jesus.  

    A look at medical history will also add another element to the birth of Jesus Christ. Most young women did not have their first menstrual cycle till age 17 in 1840.  Girls are becoming young women younger today due to good nutrition and medical care.  Most girls go through puberty now between ages 11 and 13. The time of puberty in the days of Mary and Joseph should have been at least age 17 if not older.  It may be     possible then that the birth of Jesus to Mary was two miracles.  First it was a virgin birth, God was the Father.  Second, the fact that she could get pregnant at such a young age was also a miracle.  This reminds us of what the angel Gabriel said, "For nothing will be impossible with God."

4. Why is the virgin birth important to each of us and the world? 
    The virgin birth is important as it fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 that a child would be born of a virgin and shall be called "Immanuel" or "God is with us." God loved us so much that He became a human, as Jesus Christ to show His love in His life, death and resurrection.  We learn in Romans 5:12 that sin entered the world and spread to all men and women through the sin of Adam. Adam understood the sin of eating the forbidden fruit and ate willingly.  Eve however, was deceived by the Serpent and sinned in eating the forbidden fruit.  It is believed that the sin nature that all of us are born with came through Adam and not Eve.  Each of us, both men and women receive the sin nature through our earthly fathers.  The father of Jesus was God and thus there was no sin nature transferred to Jesus.  He was born without sin. Continuing in Romans 5:15 we see the benefits of our Lord's having no sin nature and dying on the cross for each of us.

     Romans 5:15-17 (NASB) "15  But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many."  There was many sacrifices offered in the Old Testament for sins, but they had to be offered continually.  Jesus was without sin, born of a virgin, and his sacrifice on the cross was enough to wipe out all sin for those that ask Him into their lives, past, present and future sins.

5. What was the response of Mary to this announcement?
    Mary declared that she was a servant of the Lord and asked that it be done to her as was spoken, basically let God's Will be done in her life.  She never was pregnant before and she did not know what was going to happen in the near or distant future. To quote a popular Christian song, she did not know the future, but she knew who held her future.

6. What has God asked you to do in your life, what will be your response?
    It is my conviction that each of us knows at least one thing that God wants us to do in our lives.  Perhaps a person that we should reach out to help or to witness to? Perhaps a habit or even a sin that He wants us to give up or to break away from our lives. Many times we ask God what His will in our lives is, but we already know something that He wants us to do.  Our challenge is to do what He has already revealed to us and then He will show us the next step(s) in our daily walk with Him. Remember that God will never give you a task without giving you the ability to carry out that task.

7. How can each of us "find favor" with God?
    May each of us have that attractive attitude or grace with God and with our families, friends and the world at large.  Are we willing to serve Him at whatever the price?  I can only imagine the difficulty of being a pregnant young woman that was engaged and not yet married in the days of the New Testament.  Mary was willing to serve our Lord, to His Glory.  She had an attractive mind and attitude with/before God and He blessed her with an amazing task, that of carrying, giving birth and raising our Savior Jesus Christ.  What will God accomplish in you and me as we are willing to be His servant with a willing, attractive mind and attitude?

Dr. George Rhoades is a pastor, clinical psychologist, trauma specialist, and international humanitarian worker. You can view more about his worldwide ministry, Roads to Hope, on his website

Merry Christmas, everyone!






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