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When we consider the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the incarnate Jesus Christ we have to be very careful that we do not slip into error.

The potential errors include:

That we see the relationship between the Spirit and Jesus in such a way that we end up denying the full deity of the incarnate Jesus.

That we understand the relationship between the Spirit and Jesus of Nazareth to be only the same as the potential or ideal relationship between the Spirit and the believer, and to conclude from this that we, as believing humans, have the potential to do all that Jesus did, if we responded to the Spirit in the same perfect way that he did.

But we are not dealing here with questions about the relationship between the Spirit of God and a perfect human being. We are considering questions about the unique relationship between the Spirit of God and the Son of God in his incarnation. And we find that the eternal unity of the Trinity was not disturbed by the incarnation of the Son.

In thinking on the conception and birth of Jesus we need to do so in such a way that we do not interfere with the real and full deity of Christ and the real and full humanity of Christ. Once we interfere with either we cease to be biblical and have gone off into some heretical view of Christ.

In Matthew 1:18, 20 and Luke 1:35 we read that:

Mary was told: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ and ‘the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’

Mary was with child ‘through the Holy Spirit’.

Joseph was told that what was conceived in Mary was ‘from the Holy Spirit’.

The virgin conception of Jesus Christ is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. This is not a divine/human union with the resultant offspring neither God nor man, neither real spirit nor real flesh. Rather this is a special work of God in which the Spirit of God in a special and unique action caused a new human life to be conceived in Mary’s womb without a human father. This action of the Spirit ought not surprise us. He is, as we have seen, involved in the original creation of the world and in its on-going sustenance. It is not at all amazing that he can create this human embryo within Mary. It would, conversely, be surprising if he could not do this.

This work of the Spirit of God in the womb of ensures the fulfilment of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy concerning the offspring or ‘seed’ specifically of the woman who would one day defeat Satan.
Thus the child to be born of Mary is identified as a real human child:

Like any human child he develops in the womb of a woman [Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:31; 2:5].

Like any human child he is born through the normal process of birth [Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:6-7].

He has a human ancestry [Luke 1:32].

Thus the Holy Spirit of God, in a powerful and unique action, caused the conception in Mary’s womb of a human being who is in all respects fully human, and who at the same time is not corrupted by or implicated in the sin and guilt that corrupts and implicates every other human being since Genesis 3.

Only such a person is qualified to be the Saviour of the world - one who, because he is fully and completely human can actually stand in our place as a human being under the judgment of God, and one who, because he is sinless, can actually bear the guilt and punishment of others because he has no sin of his own for which to bear the guilt and punishment.

This is what the Holy Spirit did and accomplished in the conception of Jesus Christ, in respect to his full, real and perfect humanity. In the next meditation we will focus on the real and full deity of Jesus Christ.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024