The nativity story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Luke is one of the most beautiful expressions of God’s love and faithful promise to Israel and to all of His creation (and that includes you and me). It’s the most extraordinary story to recall during the Christmas season, but we cannot forget that it is a story we need to cling to as a daily reminder of Who ties our faith to the work of the Holy Spirit within our lives.
In today’s passage we see that Elizabeth is six months pregnant when God sends the angel Gabriel to talk to her cousin, Mary. What Mary was about to hear would change the course of history forever: “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (v.30-31) Most likely, Mary knew that the name Jesus in Hebrew meant savior, and in that transcendent moment she must have felt such honor, disbelief, and fear all at once.
Then Mary asked the obvious question, “’But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.’” (v. 34-35)
The angel went on to tell Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, who was older and had been barren, was also with child. Later, in verses 39-45, Mary goes to visit her cousin and “At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (v. 41)
There is such a divine connection here that is almost humanly unexplainable. When the Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth, who we know was with child (John the Baptist), hears had just heard her cousin Mary’s voice, who we know was also with child (Jesus the Messiah). These two unborn babies would experience another miraculous moment in the Spirit together later on as men when John the Baptist would baptize Jesus. “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’” (Matt 3:16-17) The Spirit within John while in utero leaped when he heard Mary’s voice because that same Spirit knew it would one day baptize the Savior of the world…and that my friends, is beyond remarkable! We house that same Spirit of Christ within us…and that too is beyond remarkable!
Luke 1:26-38 NLT
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Prayer: Jesus, we cannot thank You enough for the work of the Holy Spirit. Please continue to fill us each day and quicken the Spirit within us. May the Spirit help to soften our hearts, direct our vision, quiet our own thoughts, open our ears, and allow us to be moved in ways that bring glory to the Father. We ask this in Jesus’s Name. Amen.