Apostles’ Creed: “…who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary…”
The life of Jesus on earth—just like the life of every human being—began at conception.
But Jesus’ conception—the beginning of His life as a man—was unique.
It is an unbending law of nature that the conception of a child requires a mother and a father.
Of course, we know that God is perfectly willing to override the laws of nature in order to demonstrate His power. Even some of the most amazing miracles recorded in Scripture are repeated: no fewer than ten people are raised from the dead; and multiple times the sun does unnatural things like stand still in Joshua 14, and it even travels backwards in 2 Kings 20.
Many barren women, whose bodies were naturally unable to conceive children, have been made fruitful by the power of the Lord. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth were all barren, and yet God was pleased to give them sons from their own bodies. But their sons—Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, John—all had something in common: they still had earthly fathers.
That’s because the conception of a child requires the will of an earthly father.
Not so with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mary was rightly perplexed when Gabriel told her that she, a virgin, who was not married and who had not been with a man so as to conceive child, would conceive and bear a son. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
And there’s only one explanation for how it was possible: Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost.
God the Father, demonstrating that the Christ would come into the world not through the will of any man, but through the will of God alone, foretold through the Prophet Isaiah that a virgin would conceive; and then God brought that prophecy to pass not in some figurative, metaphorical way, but at a real time, in a real place, through a real woman, Mary.
In the Holy Spirit–conception and the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, we have something that has never been repeated. These co-miracles set Jesus apart in His earthly existence as much or more than almost anything else. And they do so right at the beginning of His life among us.
We proclaim these historical details about Jesus’ life in the Apostles’ Creed because they remind us that we have a sure, objective hope in who He is and in what He has done.