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, miraculous, Holy Spirit conception of the Messiah in the womb of Mary?

Joseph had his own very personal challenges of belief and understanding as God's plan caught him up into this fantastic and bewildering moment of grace.

  • How can the Holy Spirit conceive a child in the womb of a virgin?
  • How will I understand, much less parent, such a child?
  • What will other people think, and how will they understand what is happening with Mary's pregnancy?
  • How am I supposed to believe the impossible, much less live into this new future so full of mystery and unknown challenges?

If you join me in believing that Jesus was born to Mary through the miraculous mystery and grace through the Holy Spirit, then let me ask you to embrace an equally profound miraculous mystery of grace through the Holy Spirit within you:

Jesus is alive within you as his disciple through the work and power of the Holy Spirit!

Listen to the following words of Scripture. Invite them to bring you to a miracle as wondrous as the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary: the conception 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.)

Gather in the cumulative weight and profound mystery of the work of the Holy Spirit within you. The Spirit has not only given you new birth into Christ (Titus 3:3-7) but also is transforming you with ever-increasing glory into the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18)!

Some skeptics take one or two verses referring to the Spirit conceiving Jesus in us. They dismiss them as a private interpretation, an emotionally over-personalized desire for a religious experience. However, the cumulative weight of the passages shared above should be much like the angel's appearance to Joseph and Mary: overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and humbling.

The Father chose for the Son to be conceived by the Spirit in the womb of Mary and born in human flesh. The Father now wills for Jesus to come alive in each of us who call Jesus our Lord, Savior, and Christ (Acts 2:33-41).

The apostle Paul said it this way:

And this is the secret [mystery]: Christ lives in you. This assures you of sharing his glory (Colossians 1:27 NLT).

God wants Jesus to come alive in our world through us. He promised to accomplish this miracle through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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. Let's focus on the mystery of God coming into our world in Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit and without the intervention of a human father. Let's also remember that God wants Jesus to be 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 and empower each of us to serve and bless the world as Jesus did.

Jesus wasn't just born into our world through the womb of Mary, he also longs to be born into our hearts, as well!
We can reawaken our hearts to the wonders of God's grace in this season of joy. We can celebrate the birth of Jesus as Immanuel, conceived by the Spirit in the womb of Mary. We can welcome the presence of Jesus in our lives. We can be used to awe because of the miraculous and mysterious realities of God's grace. We can dedicate ourselves to showing Jesus to our lost and broken world so that the people around us can know God's grace, mercy, and love. This mystery of Jesus' birth is essential in this time of the pandemic, deep division, lingering suspicion, and ongoing fear.

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! Like the shepherds watching their flock that night, we need this peace as we embrace the mystery of Immanuel, Jesus' presence in us and with us.

Now is an excellent time for you to join people worldwide who share a simple Bible reading plan for 2022. This plan will help us expect, experience, and share the presence of Jesus in our lives. We will read one chapter from a Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) each day for the next year and ask the Holy Spirit to help us hear Jesus' answer to us to four questions each day:

  1. What do you want me to know about Jesus from what I read today?
  2. What do you want me to feel about what Jesus revealed to me today?
  3. What do you want me to do in response to what Jesus did and taught today?
  4. What do I need to share with someone that touched me today about Jesus and living for Him?

Download the "Experiencing Jesus Reading Plan" and let's celebrate the presence of Jesus coming alive in us in fresh ways in 2022!

Special thanks for the use of images related to Jesus' ministry from The Lumo Project and Free Bible Images.