The Annunciation by Godfried Schalcken (Dutch, 1643 – 1706)
Have you ever wondered why it was necessary for Christ to be born of a virgin? Quite simply, Mary’s supernatural pregnancy interrupted mankind’s reproductive cycle and redefined life as we knew it on earth. Up until the time of Christ, there was only one way to create new life, through sexual relationships, nine months of gestation, and the birth of a baby. By choosing a virgin to give birth to his son, God put an end to the endless lineages we read about in the Old Testament. So Christ not only defeated death, he defeated birth. He also confirmed without a shadow of a doubt that the population of heaven did not depend on matrimony, sex, or childbirth. Instead, as Jesus told Nicodemus when he asked how it was possible for an old person to be born again, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:5-6).” In a very real sense then, sex and childbirth are markers of life on earth and everything temporal and virginity and spiritual rebirth are markers for life in heaven and everything eternal. As Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:29, “From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not.” Do you know any husbands who live like that? I don’t. Since there will be no marriages in heaven, we are living today the same “sexless lives” we will be living in heaven. People who have had sex (married people) cannot do that. Whatever the dependence husbands and wives have on in each other should be rightly multiplied an infinite number of times to get an idea of the virgin’s expectation of Christ’s arrival. It is here we see God’s intended balance between marriage and celibacy and the difference between a wife and a virgin, because it’s not possible to have spiritual rebirths without earthly childbirths. Whereas marriage symbolizes Christ’s marriage to the church, virginity symbolizes the reality of heaven that is coming for believers and hell for unbelievers. It symbolizes our total dependence on him and a void that no husband or wife can ever fill. It symbolizes our expectation of his return on a level deeper than possible in marriage. “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven (Matthew 22:29).” The virginity of Mary was supernatural evidence for a world wallowing in sexual sin that she was carrying the one and only Son of God. So it is with us today. We are supernatural evidence of a kingdom that is fast approaching. Mary’s response to Gabriel when he told her she would give birth to the Son of the Most High was, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Note that she did not say, “That can’t be possible, since I haven’t found the husband God has picked out for me.” Or “I don’t see how since I haven’t slept with my boyfriend yet.” The darker the world gets, the more ironic – and miraculous – the Christmas story becomes. What was special about Mary? Mary’s vessel was empty enough, faithful enough, and humble enough to bring Christ into the world. Her wait was like none other. She was expecting, but was expecting the King of Kings. And it all started with Gabriel’s announcement to her, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” Our response to the coming of Christ should be the same as hers, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled (Luke 1:38).” It is our responsibility as virgins for the kingdom of heaven to announce the eminent return of Christ, to show evidence of a faith and sacrifice that can’t be realized through husbands and wives, and to multiply the number of spiritual rebirths. Yes, the world as we know it is fading away. Wedding rings, marriage licenses, honeymoons, baby carriages, and the white picket fence are all vanishing. But we have the privilege to wait with Mary once again for the return of the Son of the Highest.