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In a previous meditation we looked at the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the conception and birth of Christ in respect to his full and real humanity.

It is a more difficult matter to speak of the operation and role of the Spirit of God in the incarnation of Christ in respect to his real and full deity. The human pregnancy and birth, although unique because of the Holy Spirit’s operation in the virgin conception, was in all other respects a normal human pregnancy and birth.

But in respect to the full and real deity of Christ we move far away from what is normal. God does not normally become human. Spirit does not normally become flesh. That which is by very nature eternal and infinite does not normally become mortal and finite. Yet here that is exactly what happens. That it did happen is testified throughout the New Testament. How it happened remains an unexplained mystery – except that it was the work of the Holy Spirit – Mathew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35.

In respect to the true deity of Christ the birth narratives teach:

Matthew 1:23: The child to be born of the virgin will be called ‘Immanuel’ – God with us.

Luke 1:32: The child to be born of Mary will be called ‘the Son of the Most High

Luke 1:33: His kingdom will never end – this is obviously not a human reign.

Luke 1:35: The as yet unborn child is referred to as ‘the holy one to be born’

Luke 1:35: The child will be called ‘the Son of God

Luke 1:41-43: Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, referred to Mary as ‘the mother of my Lord’, thus testifying to the deity of the as yet unborn Jesus.

Luke 2:10: The angels called the new-born Jesus ‘Christ, the Lord’.

These verses clearly attest the deity of Christ from the moment of his conception, and rule out the belief of some that Jesus was adopted as the ‘Son of God’ at the time of his baptism. He is already even before his birth, and at his birth, ‘the Lord’. He is already ‘the holy one’.

And we ask ‘How is this?’ how can this human child be ‘the Lord’, how can he be ‘God with us’? The only information given in answer is the operation of the Holy Spirit recorded in the birth narratives. We can therefore conclude, even though we cannot explain how God did it, that, it was at the point of conception, at the point of this action of the Holy Spirit, that the incarnation ofGod began in time and space:

‘The Word was God … the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ [John 1:1,14]

He who is by very nature God was ‘made in human likeness’ and was ‘found in appearance as a man’ [Philippians 2:7,8]

‘In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form’ [Colossians 2:9].

‘He appeared in a body’ [1Timothy 3:16].

As Paul says to Timothy in reference to this incarnation: ‘Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great’.

Without going beyond the truth revealed in the Scripture we can safely state that when the Holy Spirit operated in the womb of Mary to ensure both the real humanity and the perfect, guilt-free humanity of Jesus, that he also, at the same time, operated in such a way and to this end: that the human child born of Mary, was also, at the same time, fully and really God. God in human flesh.

This incarnation, this God coming to us in human flesh, was proclaimed in the Old Testament, which teaches us:

That the ‘child’ who was to be born, the ‘Son’ who was to be given, would be called ‘the Mighty God’, ‘the Everlasting Father’, and that his rule and his kingdom would be forever [Isaiah 9:6].

That the promised descendent of David is also ‘The LORD our Righteousness’ [Jeremiah 23:5,6].

That God himself would come to us as the Shepherd of his people [Ezekiel 34:11ff] while at the same this shepherd would be God’s servant ‘David’ [Ezekiel 34:23ff].

In relation to this promised One who is both God and man the Old Testament tells us in advance:

That ‘the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him’ [Isaiah 11:2].

That God has put his Spirit upon him [Isaiah 42:1; see Matthew 12:18].

That the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon him [Isaiah 61:1; see Luke 4:18].

These verses teach us that the Spirit of God was present with Jesus in a way that deserved special mention. This is not the same as the way the Spirit was present with the judges or with the prophets, enabling them to lead God’s people or to proclaim God’s word, at a particular time or a particular place. Nor is it the same as the way the Spirit is present with Christian believers. These scriptures speak of a unique association between the Spirit and Jesus, which is true only of the relationship between the Spirit and the incarnate Christ, and is a continuation of the essential eternal unity between the Son and Spirit.

As a result of this unique work of the Spirit, Jesus, the human child born of Mary, is also ‘Immanuel – God with us’. In him was all the fullness of God, everything that God is, here among us as one of us (read John 3:34; Colossians 1:19: 2:9).

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024