Now, this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18 NLT).
How do you understand this mystery?
How do you grasp this unfathomable conception of the Messiah in the womb of Mary?
Joseph and Mary had their own challenges of belief and understanding as they were caught up in this amazing and bewildering moment of God's grace.
How is a child conceived by the Holy Spirit?
How do you understand such a child?
How do you believe the impossible?
If you believe Jesus was born to Mary through the mystery and grace of the Holy Spirit, then let me ask you an equally profound miracle:
Listen to these words of Scripture and be brought back to a miracle as wondrous as the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary: the conception and development of Jesus, in YOU!
Yet to all who did receive [the Son], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12—13).
Jesus replied, "The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven" (John 3:5 NLT).
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [and reflect] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17—18 — This translation incorporates the NIV footnote for the word that means both "contemplate" and "reflect.").
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone because I am perplexed about you! (Galatians 4:19—20).
This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This assures you of sharing his glory.
So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God [fully mature in Christ]. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me (Colossians 1:26-29 NLT — "Fully mature in Christ" from the NIV has been substituted for "perfect in their relationship to Christ" of the NLT.)
Some skeptics might take one or two of these verses and dismiss them as a private interpretation or religious superstition. However, the cumulative weight of them is much like the angel's appearance to Joseph and Mary: overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and humbling. Just as the Father wanted the Son to be conceived in the womb of Mary born in human flesh, he also wants Jesus to come alive in each of us. He wants Jesus to be born again into our world through us and in us. He promised to do this miracle in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So as the season of Christmas approaches, and as our world wrestles with seemingly insurmountable problems, let's grab ahold of God's mystery, grace, and power. Yes, let's focus on the mystery of God coming into our world in Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of Mary, and without the intervention of a human father. Let's also remember that God wants Jesus to born into our world again, this time through us. The Father wants the Son to come alive through our words, influence, character, actions. The same Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary's womb and empowered the Lord Jesus in his ministry on earth is also at work to transform us and empower us to serve like Jesus.
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased”(Luke 2:13—14).
Yes! We need this peace!
I hope you will join me each Wednesday for the rest of December as we open our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit who is seeking to bring Jesus fully to life in each of us!