“Conceived by the Holy Spirit”

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The angel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). There is no spectacular moment of conception recorded in the Gospels, only this startling Word that marks The Most Significant Moment: the act of the Triune God in the Incarnation of the Father’s Son through the Spirit. This was unlike any other human conception; this was a new creation. God—remaining God—added to himself a created human nature, entering into the history of what he has made, never to exit that history, never to renounce his union with his creation.

This conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit in history is analogous to the begetting of the Son by the Holy Spirit in eternity. The Spirit is not the Son’s Father—that would be the Father, the Most High. The Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is the Father’s power to beget and to create. When Jesus is conceived by the Father’s Holy Power, he is called “holy—the Son of God.” By the Spirit, Jesus is the Holy Son of God in his uncreated/divine nature and in his created/human nature. He is the only Son so begotten/conceived, the only Son holy “by nature.” Yet, the same Spirit who is involved in the eternal begetting of the Son, who was involved in Jesus’ conception, is also involved in our “being born again.” A Christian’s Spiritual rebirth is analogous to Christ’s own Spiritual conception, because it is the same Spirit of Sonship who makes Jesus the Holy Son of God who is the Spirit of Adoption making many sons holy. We are made holy sons of God by adoption as the Spirit unites us to the One who is the Holy Son by nature. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Have you thought of the Incarnation of the Son of God as “The Most Significant Moment”? How is each Person of the Trinity involved in this act? Is Jesus’ miraculous conception (and what that means for who he is) difficult for you, or others you know, to apprehend, imagine, or believe? Have you talked with people outside the church about what it means that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit?

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