Advent celebrates the miraculous intervention of the unique divine man, Jesus, into human history to redeem the children of death. From a biblical theological perspective, this miraculous birth is a fulfillment of a pattern in Scripture, which shows that Jesus is a new and better offspring of Abraham, a new and better Joseph, a new and better Samson, and new and better Samuel.
In Luke 1–2 Elizabeth’s and Mary’s pregnancies as parallels, with Elizabeth’s forecasting Mary’s. Elizabeth stands in the line of the barren women in the Old Testament whom God graced with unique sons. Following in the path of the barren women in the OT, whose wombs Yahweh opened and gave children who had great significance in his redemptive plan, Elizabeth prepares us to receive the news of the virgin birth of a King.
The description “had no child,” “barren” and “both were advanced in years” recall Genesis 18:11, where Abraham and Sarah share a similar experience. Abraham was God’s chosen, whose offspring was to bring blessings to the nations, but Sarah’s womb was dead. We find this pattern repeated several times in the Scriptures: Sarah (Genesis 11:30), Rebeka (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 29:31), Manoah’s wife (Samson’s mother) (Judges 13:2), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:5), and now Elizabeth (Luke 1:7, 18), then the completely staggering finale, Mary whose is not only barren like the others, she’s never known a man sexually (Luke 1:27).
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
The crescendo of the pattern in the conception and birth of Jesus shows that he fulfills and exceeds the roles of the sons born of the miraculous conceptions in the Old Testament:
Jesus is a new and better Son of Abraham. He sacrifices himself as the substitute sacrifice for the sins of those who would believe in him and is received from the grave never to taste death again (cf. Hebrews 11:19)
Jesus is a new and better Joseph. He is sold and betrayed by his own people but becomes the means of their salvation, but even more than that he is their Salvation,
Jesus is a new and better Samson. He defeats all the enemies of God’s people by his death. Whereas Samson killed more at his death than his life (Judges 16:30), Jesus not only killed more enemies by his death but kills death itself.
Jesus is a new and better Samuel. Like Samuel, he grows in stature and favor with God (1 Samuel 2:26; Luke 2:52), God is with him (1 Samuel 3:19), but God does not only reveal himself to Jesus by his word like to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:21), Jesus is the Word of God and reveals God to all.
The pattern of miraculous conceptions find their ultimate and mouth-stopping conception of the virgin who gives birth to the Creator of the Universe, the great substitutionary sacrifice, great Deliverer, the Destroyer of death, the Word of God who alone reveals God.