The virgin birth of Jesus—more accurately, his virginal conception—is one of two pivotal details in his earthly life.
If Jesus was not virginally conceived, he was the natural child of either Mary’s infidelity or her marriage to Joseph.
If either of these alternatives is true, Jesus was born with a sinful nature. If he was inherently sinful, he was not God incarnate.
If Jesus was not God incarnate, his claims of deity were lies and he is not our Savior.
The Bible does not describe exactly how Mary became pregnant. We only have the description she gave to Luke, the Gospel writer. Here is a summary of her narrative.
God sent the angel Gabriel to visit Mary. He said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”
Mary responded by asking, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Mary answered, ““I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then Gabriel left her.
Can the virginal conception of Jesus be explained scientifically? Maybe in part, but not completely. It was a miraculous event.
Some people speculate that Jesus was conceived through parthenogenesis, a common reproduction method among lower plants and invertebrate animals that does not require the ovum to be fertilized.
This theory crumbles when we consider the moral perfection of Jesus. He was born without sin.
Parthenogenesis would have utilized an egg from Mary. For Jesus to be born sinless through this process would have required Mary to also be sinless. Otherwise, Jesus would have inherited a sinful nature through her.
The Bible never indicates that Mary was born sinless or that God made her sinless at the conception of Jesus. Instead, it says we are all innately sinful at birth and we never lose our sinful nature until we enter heaven.
Adam and Eve were created sinless, but Jesus is the only person who was ever born sinless.
A more plausible—but still speculative—explanation for the virginal conception of Jesus is that Mary was his surrogate mother.
Upon leaving heaven, Jesus physically transformed himself into a zygote, the initial cell that becomes an embryo. The Holy Spirit then implanted this cell in Mary’s womb.
This possibility concurrently accounts for Mary’s pregnancy while preserving her virginity and the divinity of Jesus.
Jesus transformed himself physically on several other occasions, before and after his earthly birth.
In the Old Testament, he left heaven to converse directly with Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Hagar, Moses, and Joshua. Sometimes he appeared in human form. Other times he appeared in the form of a cloud or fire.
In the New Testament, Jesus physically transfigured into his radiant self in the presence of Peter, James, and John. After his resurrection, he appeared and disappeared at will.
These incidents lend credence to the notion that Jesus could have physically transformed himself into a zygote.
The resurrection of Jesus is the second pivotal detail in his earthly life.
Looking back from this event, we can infer theologically that his conception was virginal.
Had Jesus not been God incarnate, he would have remained dead forever. Instead, his resurrection affirmed his deity.
As God incarnate, Jesus was sinless prior to his earthly conception. To remain sinless during his earthly tenure and thereafter, his conception had to be virginal.
The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is sufficient to conclude that he was indeed God incarnate. We can therefore surmise that his conception was virginal.
God Is Limitless
The validity of the virginal conception of Jesus does not depend on a viable human explanation.
God could have easily made it happen by doing something beyond our comprehension. He is not limited by our knowledge or imagination.
It will be fascinating to hear God explain this miracle when we get to heaven.