At this point I have spoken of three great miracles of Christmas: that God should become man, that he should do so by means of a Virgin Birth, and that Mary should have believed the angel's announcement. But now I want to say that the last of these miracles needs to have its counterpart in us. We too need to believe the good news concerning this child, that he is the Savior sent by the Father to deliver us from sin, and that we need to commit ourselves to him in wholehearted trust and obedience.

It is hard to think of Christmas without thinking of the two great miracles I have mentioned—the incarnation and the Virgin Birth—and yet the third of these three miracles is the greatest of all, namely, that Mary should believe the angel's message. Luther puts it nicely: “The Virgin Birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is it that this maiden should credit [that is, believe] the announcement.”4

The second miracle of Christmas announced to Mary by the angel Gabriel is the Virgin Birth. Strangely, this miracle was not a problem for the ancients. At least no strong opposition to its being possible has been recorded. It is only in recent times, in the earlier decades of this century, that the Virgin Birth has been discounted. It was attacked by the unbelieving liberal element in Christianity.

The announcement that Jesus should be born to Mary has several parts, all of them important: that Jesus would be “great”; that he would be “the Son of the Most High”; that he would be “holy,” that is, without sin; and that he would “reign over the house of Jacob” on the throne of David forever. But of these various parts of the announcement the greatest, without any doubt, is that the one to be born should be the Son of God. It is the greatest part of the announcement because it means that by the incarnation and birth God would himself become man.

There is something about Christmas that is wonderful—in spite of the frantic pace of the days leading up to Christmas, the anxious flurry of pre-Christmas buying and the undisguised commercialism and materialism that is so much a part of Christmas in the West. I suppose it is the sheer magnitude of the event itself, the grandeur of what Christmas means: the birth of the Savior.