25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. – 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 NASB
The Scandal of the Virgin Birth
When God emptied Himself came to visit mankind, He could have just appeared out of nowhere or descended from the clouds with rays of light and angels blasting trumpets over Jerusalem for all to see. Instead He chose this foolish and scandalous way to reveal Himself:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” – Matthew 1:18-23 NASB
Virgin with child – RIGHT. I’m sure this was not an easy thing for Mary to explain. If you heard the story from someone, you wouldn’t believe it. “The Spirit overpowered me, and now I’m pregnant. I swear it’s true!.”
We see this was really a problem from Joseph’s reaction:
19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:19-21 NASB
We see that even though it was true, it was very difficult for her fiancé to believe – much less anyone else. When Mary went to visit Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, and her baby leapt for joy in her womb, she had to set aside the enormous difficulty of the appearance that Mary was unmarried and pregnant. It took immense faith to embrace the truth, that Mary was pregnant as a virgin and that she had conceived by the Spirit of God. So, Jesus was conceived and carried in the midst of scandal and controversy, so that even in the womb He created a story with which the rejected and disenfranchised could identify. His very conception was an affront to the law and a call to faith in God’s goodness beyond adherence to the appearance of holiness. All through the years, all the unwed mothers can take solace that Jesus Himself was carried in the midst of the scandal and disgrace of an unwed mothers’ embarrassment. And you can believe that in that society, it was a BIG DEAL, and it still is.
Our lives are filled with instances where God is doing something beautiful and holy in the midst of the appearance of lawlessness and scandal. Unwed pregnant mothers. Drunkards and addicts who long for godliness. Unmarried couples living together who want to walk with God. Prodigals in the midst of their sin. The law condemns them, but grace says that God is at work in His great great love for us all. In the midst of my sin and deep imperfection I can depend on the fact that through Christ, what is born in me is conceived of the Holy Spirit, and that I am the bearer of good news of a great joy. In a way that is exactly similar to the virgin who was with child, it is always a flaming scandal when God manifests His love and beauty in our midst. The world is full of judgement against the grace of God, and it is continually balking at the manifestation of God’s love. It ought never to be, but God is in the business of doing miracles for fools. Amen.