The Apostle's Creed--a classic faith declaration used for years by the universal church--says, "I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary..."
But was Jesus really virgin born? Did Mary really conceive Jesus without the aid of human father? The late scholar Vincent Taylor observes, "The virgin birth becomes a living issue only when it is claimed that Jesus was more than just a man."
Let's be honest. The only person who really knows the truth is Mary. And yet, I believe credible evidence exists showing that it really happened.
Foremost is Mary's own testimony, recorded in Luke's gospel. In all likelihood, Luke got the story firsthand from Mary herself, as he interviewed sources in preparation for writing his gospel.
While Luke's account of Jesus' birth is told from Mary's point of view, Matthew's gospel is from Joseph's perspective. Thus, what we have are two independent accounts with similar and yet different details. For instance, only Luke tells us that a census was ordered, while only Matthew tells us that Magi came from the East. And yet, both accounts make clear that Jesus was born of a virgin mother.
The bottom line question is this: Can God do the miraculous? Can he temporarily suspend the natural order of the world to do a supernatural work?
But the most persuasive evidence in my mind is the story itself. It's scandalous!
If Jesus wasn't virgin born, there's only one reasonable explanation--Mary illicitly conceived Jesus before she was officially married to Joseph. And in Jewish culture 2,000 years ago, pregnancy outside of marriage was utterly scorned. When Joseph still claims Mary as his wife, he too becomes part of the scandal. To claim a virgin conception is a bad cover-up attempt.
The movie, "The Nativity Story," does a nice job depicting the dilemma. When Mary returns home to Joseph and her parents, after her long her visit to Elizabeth, everyone notices the obvious--she's pregnant. While Joseph is personally persuaded by God that Mary did nothing wrong, that doesn't stop the rest of the village from whispering gossip.
God could have sent Jesus to earth on a spaceship, but he didn't. Instead, He came to earth by through ordinary, faithful people.
And that's God's pattern. He works in the world by working through us.