This is part of a series of reflections on the Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary;
suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell,
The third day, He rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
And sitting on the right hand of God the Father almighty
from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church
The communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Having accepted Jesus as the only begotten of the Father and as such the Christ, we now come to another fact about the Jesus: the virgin birth, and more precisely, that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
I will not get bogged down at this point by questioning miracles in general. The assumption that a God exists that created the world is an assumption that God can work miracles. It is however important to fully understand what exactly this miracle was and what it was not.
There are many myths in which gods have sex with humans. This is not that kind of story. Attempts to paint it as such will completely misunderstand the significance of what happened. In fact, none of the words used to describe the event are references to sexual reproduction.
Instead, the notion of being conceived by the Holy Spirit is more akin to the creation of Adam with God breathing life into this new creation.
This is what must be, for Jesus did not come just to show us a new way, but rather to be a way. As such, He must be a new creation, uncorrupted by sin. He is the second Adam.
Some are tempted to dismiss the virgin birth, embarrassed by such a story in modern times. Yet, the ancient Christians devoted two lines of the Apostles’ Creed to it. They did so because it points to the very nature of what Christ would do.
It is not enough that a person could come along and obey the Old Testament law. This would not make a person righteous or sinless. Sin existed before the law, and the law does not exist to show righteousness, but rather to expose sin. The law exists for sinners. Consider what Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome:
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4 ESV)
Jesus came to do what we could not: fulfill the law. He came to do what the law could not: restore righteousness. In sending Jesus, God gave humanity a do-over. This time, however, sin is defeated in Christ, and new creation that we may also become new creations.
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower