Of all the miracles recorded in the Bible, none has been derided as much as the virgin birth. The skeptic who turns a cool ear to stories about walking on water, healing the sick, and raising the dead will, more often than not, sneer at the very mention of the virgin birth. For many folks it is a difficult doctrine, one that has caused them to stop short of faith, or so they claim.

It is as if the One who breathed the universe into existence by a mere utterance lost the ability a few millennia later. Yet Jesus was not the first child brought into the world in an unconventional manner. Isaac was born to a barren, geriatric mother, so was John the Baptist, and let's not forget Adam and Eve.

For Isaac, the circumstances were so unusual that when his mother, Sarah, was told of her impending pregnancy, like a modern-day skeptic she laughed. In John's case, his father, Zechariah, didn't laugh but his response, "How can I be sure," betrayed a measured dose of doubt. Which makes Mary's reaction to her annunciation all the more remarkable.

An inconvenient message

By all external measures, there was nothing exceptional about the mother of Jesus. As a young teenage girl in a backwater town in Galilee, Mary lacked the social status and experience of Zechariah and Sarah. Zechariah was a temple priest, Sarah was the wife of a patriarch, and, most significantly, both were married. But Mary was an unwed peasant engaged to a common carpenter.

Despite her humble circumstances, Mary's shock at the angel's visitation did not give way to doubt. When told that she will conceive the long-awaited Messiah, Mary neither scoffed nor asked for proof. Instead, she wondered aloud, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

Mary was not questioning the fact of what would be; she was curious about the how. Even as an inexperienced teenager, Mary knew that babies arrive only after a man and woman come together; and she had not been with a man. It cannot be underestimated how inconvenient this message was... Continue reading here.