Q: If we'd been Mary and Joseph's neighbors, we'd probably have had a hard time believing that Mary was truly a virgin and that the child she carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Is there any way we can take the Bible and prove for an absolute fact that it was Jesus, the Messiah, whom Mary bore?
—Bruce Snow, via e-mail
A: You're right, Bruce. Mary's story would be hard for anyone to accept. No doubt she was the subject of a lot of ugly gossip in her day. Even Joseph didn't believe her at first.
Can we prove that Jesus was the Messiah through Scripture? There are dozens of Old Testament prophecies that He fulfilled to the letter. One of these is Isaiah 7:14, in which God said He would give us a sign: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son." Bible scholars tell us that in this passage, the Hebrew word used for virgin is almah—which can mean either "virgin" or "young woman." One reason translators believe the word should be rendered virgin is because there's nothing particularly remarkable about a young woman giving birth. How would that be a sign?
In the New Testament, the Greek word used to describe Mary can only be translated "virgin"—it has no other meaning. So when the Scriptures tell us that an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary, that he told her the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and that the child conceived in her would be the Messiah, we know what he's describing is a miraculous event. Later the angel told the shepherds, "Unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).
So the answer to your question is "yes"—if you accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God, if you believe what it says is true. If you don't, no amount of Scripture will convince you. In the end, it all comes down to faith. Approach the Scriptures with an open heart and mind, and an earnest desire to discover the Truth, and God will reveal Himself to you through the pages of His Word.
Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It To Heart, and the author of The 3 Wise Women: A Christmas Reflection (Crossway).
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