“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35)
Across the centuries, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ has been considered a foundational doctrine by Christians of virtually every denomination. Both Matthew and Luke plainly ascribe the conception of Jesus Christ to the action of the Holy Spirit. Matthew uses phrases such as “through the Holy Spirit” and “from the Holy Spirit” to describe what happened. Luke adds an intriguing phrase when he reports the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). The verb for “overshadow” speaks of the direct, personal presence of God. The same verb is used in all three accounts of the Transfiguration to describe the cloud that enveloped Jesus, Moses and Elijah (and Peter, James and John) on the mountain. From that cloud came a voice saying, “This is my Son,” even as Gabriel told Mary, “The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
What is the significance of Jesus being begotten of the Holy Spirit? Since Jesus was born of Mary, we know that He was truly human. Since He was conceived through the Holy Spirit, we know that He was more than a man.
The virgin birth was God’s way of announcing to the world that Jesus was indeed his Son. We’ll never know if God could have done it some other way, but because he did it this way, the unique entrance of the Son of God into the world proves that Jesus was indeed “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). Through the virgin birth, the Son of God entered the human race, taking upon himself all aspects of true humanity, yet remaining sinless, and without surrendering any aspect of his deity.
Thus the Babe in the manger was truly Almighty God from heaven. He was fully God and yet fully man at one and the same time. Deity and humanity joined together. Theologians call him the God-Man.
What role did the Holy Spirit play? Through some means unknown to us, during the “overshadowing” he created within the womb of Mary the unborn (yet fully human and fully alive) Person of Jesus Christ.
It is a pure miracle of the highest order. No one can explain it. No scientist can duplicate it. It happened once and only once-never to be repeated. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ stands absolutely alone. Nothing can be compared to it because no other birth has been or ever could be like it.
But there it is. A truth to be believed. A fundamental fact to be accepted. A miracle at which to marvel. An amazing beginning for the God-Man. A birth like no other because Jesus was indeed God’s one-and-only Son.
Father, we believe in the virgin birth because we believe your Word. As we contemplate this miracle, increase our faith to believe that nothing is impossible with God. Amen.
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