One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is the miracle of the virgin birth. Jesus had no earthly father but was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23, Luke 1:30–35).
What is the significance of the virgin birth?
The traditional explanation is that a virgin birth meant Jesus was unstained by Adam’s sin. Since he did not have a natural father, he did not inherit Adam’s sinful nature.
It is an oft-repeated explanation, but one that is not found in scripture.
The true significance of the virgin birth is that Jesus was not born into Adam’s enslaved family, and only a free man can ransom a slave (see Table below).
Jesus was not a slave
Adam’s sin put humanity on death row. (Romans 5 calls it living under the condemnation of sin and death.) But Jesus was not of Adam’s line. He was born outside the prison.
On numerous occasions, Jesus told his disciples that he was not from earth but had come from heaven. “I have come down from heaven” (John 6:38). It’s like he was saying, “I’m not a prisoner. I have come from outside to set you free.”
And this is really, really important when you consider the significance of this verse:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
“All sinned” means all of us were in Adam when he sinned. We were in the car when he drove over the proverbial cliff.
It makes no difference whether you are good or bad. By virtue of the fact that you are descended from Adam, you are part of the “all sinned” group.
But Jesus is not part of that group. Since he is not of Adam’s line, he’s not subject to the law of sin and death. Sin can’t touch him and death can’t take him. The only way Jesus could go to the cross and die on our behalf was if he chose to.
Throughout history many pseudo-saviors have come promising freedom and every one of them was a slave to sin. They couldn’t save anyone. If you are redeemed by a slave, that slave’s master becomes your master.
Ransomed by the Free Man
We needed a free man to redeem us from our slavery to sin and Jesus is that free man.
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – so that they should live on forever and not see decay… But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalms 49:7–9, 15 NIV)
The true significance of the Virgin Birth
Moses the Deliverer shows us how this works. Moses was a type of Christ because he was the only Hebrew not owned by Pharaoh. Moses was a free man used by God to liberate a nation of slaves.
Similarly, Jesus is the only human who wasn’t a slave, which makes him an ideal savior. When you’re locked up inside, you need help from outside, and Jesus is the definition of outside help.
You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. (John 8:23)
Unplugged from the Matrix
Jesus was constantly telling people that he was not from earth. He was saying, “Since I’m not part of the Matrix I can unplug you from the Matrix.”
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14–15, NIV)
Sometimes those in the Matrix don’t see their need for liberation, and this was the case with the Jews. Jesus told them, “The truth will make you free,” and the Jews replied “but we’re not slaves” (see John 8:32–33). They were blind to their bondage.
The same is true of many people today. They have been told they are sinners and that the remedy is to stop sinning. They don’t know that the situation is more dire than that and that they are slaves, dead in sins, and in need of Savior.
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)
Near the end of his life Jesus said:
I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me. (John 14:30, NIV)
No hold means no claim, no power, and no ownership. The devil couldn’t lay a hand on Jesus. This made Jesus hard to kill.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10:17–18)
It was not sin but love that caused Jesus to lay down his life for you.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Jesus is the only Savior who can deliver the slaves of sin and he did it because he loves you. What a friend we have in Jesus!
Extracted and adapted from Paul’s new book, Original Sin: What Does the Bible Really Say? available now on Patreon.