The three persons of the Trinity have always existed together. The Old Testament revealed God the Father to mankind and the New Testament revealed Jesus to the world. After Jesus returned to heaven, Jesus and the Father fully revealed the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus. They sent the Holy Spirit to finish what they had started. As we wait for Jesus’ return, the job of the Holy Spirit is to prepare a glorious, global Bride for Jesus, who will rule and reign with Him, sharing for eternity the inheritance Jesus received from the Father.
The Holy Spirit had been prompting dozens of men to write about the coming of the Messiah for 1200 years. Now the time has come! Finally, the offspring of Eve would crush the head of the serpent as the Spirit had Moses write in Genesis. The virgin would conceive and birth a son called Emmanuel as the Spirit had Isaiah write. The Son would be born to us called Eternal Father, Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor! Now, the mighty One was to be born in Bethlehem as the Spirit had Micah write.
Since God is One God in three Persons, all three members of the Godhead do everything together, but they assign one Member of the Trinity for certain purposes and times of history. God is the Initiator, Jesus the Liberator and the Spirit is the Facilitator.
The Holy Spirit is God, He is Lord and He lives inside every true follower of Jesus. But He is so humble, so meek that He always points us to Jesus and the Father. He is a complete Person, just as Jesus and the Father are but His personality is to only to do what the Father commands and what the Son provides by His grace won on Calvary. The better we know the Holy Spirit, the more we fellowship with Him, the more we will do the will of God and glorify Jesus.
Today, let’s investigate the role of the Holy Spirit in creating the wonderful event we call Christmas, the Birth of Jesus, the Incarnation of God into human flesh. The Holy Spirit played a key role in the events of leading up the Christ’s birth.
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.
Note that the Holy Spirit was filling the body of John even in the womb. Let no one ever say that an unborn baby is not a full-person deserving all the protections of any person. God saw fetus John as a person who needed to be filled with His Presence.
16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
John had a high calling. No one else had it. He was to prepare Israel for the three year public ministry of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent into the womb of Elizabeth by the Father and Jesus to make sure John was spiritually ready to fulfill His calling. Jesus’ Birth Foretold: Luke 1:26
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 3
0 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 3
3 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Now John 3:16 says God the Father sent Jesus to save us, but it is the Holy Spirit Who makes Mary pregnant with Jesus—not the Father. Just in in creation of the world that Gen. 1:1 records:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters…
God the Father commanded a world to be born and the Holy Spirit was hovering over the water world of earth like a hen over an egg that needs to hatch— seemingly to birth the lands of the world and the creatures of the world. Here in Luke’s Gospel, God the Father commands that Jesus be born of Mary and the Holy Spirit empowers the birth by “overshadowing” Mary and making her pregnant with the DNA of the Father.
The Holy Spirit & John’s Family: Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy (filled with Spirit?).
Look how the Holy Spirit used Elizabeth to encourage this teenage girl carrying a child that most people would think was conceived out of wedlock. She was probably dreading what her family and neighbors would say as they noticed her belly getting bigger with child. So, the Holy Spirit lifts her spirits by this amazing prophetic word from Elizabeth. No wonder Mary stayed there three months while Elizabeth finished her pregnancy. Three months with this Spirit-filled woman and her Spirit-filled unborn baby strengthened Mary as she returned to her town of Nazareth. At 3-4 months of pregnancy, she would be showing. Now the gossip would really start. But Mary was ready now to face it after the ministry of the Spirit through Elizabeth. After John is born, his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67) and prophesied, saying:
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways… (Luke 1:76)
That is only part of one of most beautiful Messianic prophecies in the Bible—from the mouth of someone whom God struck dumb due to his sin of unbelief nine months earlier. This story about Zacharias reminds us that the Holy Spirit refines and corrects us, and ultimately uses us in spite of our failures and weaknesses. We must never grow weary of God’s discipline—because in the end, we will emerge with a message from Him.
And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel. (Luke: 1:80)
Why Were John & His Parent Filled with the Holy Spirit?
Can you imagine the bittersweet joy of old parents raising an active child? By filling them with Himself, the Holy Spirit comforted and strengthened John and his parents for the unusual and difficult life ahead for all of them. The Spirit also began to disciple John even in the womb for the gigantic role he was to play in revealing the Messiah Jesus to the world. God wanted every Jew to be ready to receive Jesus the Messiah so He commissioned John to get them ready by his prophetic preaching. The Holy Spirit did that for baby Jesus. What ramifications does this have for us as parents and the work of the Spirit in the lives of our children?
Conclusion & Applications
At Christmas each year, all Christians celebrate the time when God the Holy Spirit and an illiterate teenage girl formed a partnership that produced the Savior of the world, Jesus the Messiah. That partnership has not only allowed us to become children of God but it has become a model for all of us now who follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit made Mary pregnant with Jesus. The Holy Spirit wants to make us “pregnant” with the life, character and power of Jesus in our daily lives to others can know Jesus, too. So what is the Holy Spirit wanting to partner with you in this Christmas season and beyond?
By: Pastor Bob Fox, Abundant Life Fellowship
Learn about the power of the Holy Spirit in spiritual preparation for Christmas with: The Spirit-Filled Life small group Bible study. Discover how the Facilitator is Emmanuel–God With Us and has already empowered you to bear Christ into the world.