I think the virgin birth of Jesus is a good story because sometimes it feels like nobody understands.
Some of our problems are difficult to explain. It’s easier to say: “it’s complicated” than to fill someone in on the rollercoaster of your life. And relive all the emotions in the process.
If you believe in God, praying to Him can be helpful, but not just because He can help, but because he’s been there. He’s felt all the stuff we’ve felt. And more.
Timothy Keller explains this well:
If God has really been born in a manger, then we have something that no other religion even claims to have. It’s a God who truly understands you, from the inside of your experience. There’s no other religion that says God has suffered, that God had to be courageous, that he knows what it is like to be abandoned by friends, to be crushed by injustice, to be tortured and die. Christmas shows he knows what you’re going through. When you talk to him, he understands. (Hidden Christmas, p 14)
Because Jesus was born and lived a life on this earth, he can really know what we feel like. Read the story of Jesus and you’ll find he’s familiar with hunger and thirst, anxiety, rejection, doubt, temptation, murderous mobs, grief, political turmoil, physical pain.
People still care about the same things. On the surface, the world was very different 2000 years ago. No aeroplanes, no cars, no internet, no phones… But in other ways, not much has changed. We still want similar things in life. One of those things is family.
Jesus is not the first miraculous conception. Through the Bible story, many couples appear who can’t have children. Abraham & Sarah are far too old (90+), Ruth is widowed, Hannah is infertile and the list goes on. But God works in their lives and changes the story.
So what? Well, so do we. We care about bringing people into this world: wishes, herbal remedies, prayer candles, IVF… We have a vast amount of emotions involved in giving birth and having children. We care about this. And through what He has done, we can be sure God cares about this too.
Having said that, Jesus’ conception is something new and unique. God always stuck to the man + woman formula before. Let’s be clear: this isn’t a story from ancient Greece, so no little god is coming down and mating a woman. This is YHWH – creator of the universe – whispering a single new human cell into existence inside Mary’s womb. From then on that cell grows and kicks and is born in the normal, natural human way.