The Biology of Christmas

by | Dec 7, 2011 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

The
virgin birth contradicts the laws of science. But our faith rests on the
miracle of the Incarnation.

My wife and I have four girls, and I was in the hospital
room for each birth. There was a normal amount of blood, but no serious
complications. Our oldest took forever to be born. Our second was in such a
hurry that we thought she might end up on the floor of a hospital hallway. Our
third tied her umbilical cord in knots in the womb. And our youngest calmly
slipped out as if to say: “OK, I’m born. What’s next?”

I had very little to do in the delivery room. My wife
was the hero. She sweated, strained, pushed and gasped for hours. I stroked her
arm a few times—and ate some doughnuts.

“The concept of a woman giving birth to a baby without
a man’s involvement is ludicrous to unbelievers. It contradicts all the laws of
biology.”

Normal births are amazing, whether they occur in
hospitals or homes or the back seats of taxis. But when I consider the birth of
Jesus, I’m in total awe—not just because of Mary and Joseph’s bumpy ride from
Nazareth, Mary’s lack of a doctor (and no anesthesia!) and the crudeness of the
manger, but also because of how Jesus was conceived. Mary was a virgin. Joseph,
the “father,” had nothing to do but stand in the background.

Secularists and liberal theologians have mocked the
virgin birth for centuries. Thomas Jefferson called it
a fable, while Episcopal heretic John Shelby Spong called
it an “entrance myth.” The concept of a woman giving birth to a baby without a
man’s involvement is ludicrous to unbelievers. It contradicts all the laws of
biology.

Yet Mary was not a scoffer. She asked the angel how she
would bear this child, and he said: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the
power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35, NASB).

I would have asked for more scientific information.
(“Um, thanks Gabe, but how does this process of miraculous impregnation work?”)
But Mary didn’t quibble over details. She believed Gabriel’s announcement and
submitted to God in childlike faith.

The Greek word for “overshadow,” episkiazo, is a reference to the cloud of God’s presence that
materialized in Moses’ tabernacle. The Amplified Bible translates Luke 1:35 as:
He “will overshadow you like a shining cloud.” This same cloud hovered over the
ark of the covenant, led God’s people through the wilderness and filled
Solomon’s temple with shimmering shekinah glory.

Think about it. The same cloud of glory that caused
Moses’ face to shine hovered over a virgin and deposited a divine seed in her
womb. The God who hid behind a veil in the Old Testament clothed Himself in
human flesh in the New Testament.

The Incarnation cannot be explained in purely biological
terms. There was nothing sexual about it, yet Mary’s ovum was fertilized
without Joseph’s sperm. Divinity merged with humanity. Jesus, fully God and
fully man, began a nine-month gestation.

When the Savior was born, there was a normal amount of
blood, sweat and tears—because Mary was human. But this birth was surrounded
with wonder because Joseph was not the father. He came from a line of kings,
but his pedigree was not enough to save the human race. He could not contribute
to this miracle.

Doubters think Joseph got Mary pregnant out of wedlock.
If that were true, Christianity itself would be a lie because (1) if Jesus were
not born of a woman, He could not have identified with our sins fully; and (2) if
God were not His biological father, He could not have redeemed us.

This is the most glorious revelation of the nativity.
Bible teacher R.T. Kendall put it this way: “The virgin birth of Christ shows
that salvation can never come through human effort.” God performed this
science-defying miracle without our help. All we can do is receive His amazing
love and forgiveness.

We just stand there in awe. As you prepare for this
holiday season, I pray you and your family will be overshadowed in a fresh way
by the presence of the Savior.

J. Lee
Grady
is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on
Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is
10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

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