The Holy Spirit in the Birth and Childhood of Christ
In Luke 1:35 the angel Gabriel announces to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Then in Matthew 1:20 an angel says to Joseph “Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
In these verses we learn that the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” or “conceived” Jesus. This is a key point when trying to understand how Jesus can be human yet also be without sin.
Mankind was made in the image of God which means we’re spiritual beings. The problem is that the image of God in us has been tarnished by sin. So when humans reproduce they pass on that tarnished spiritual image. That’s why David says in Psalm 51:5 that “in sin my mother conceived me.”
But Jesus wasn’t conceived through humans, He was conceived through the Holy Spirit. He’s fully human, but because He didn’t inherent our sin nature, instead of being predisposed to sin, Hebrews 7:26 tells us that he was “separate from sinners”. The result is what we see in Hebrews 4:15 Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet was without sin.”
Moving to Jesus’ childhood Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:40 says the same thing saying the “Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” You hear people ask all the time what did Jesus do during His childhood and here we have our answer. He increased in “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”
Now it’s important to note here that this verse and others like it are referring to Jesus’ human nature. Jesus is fully God and fully Man. As God He’s unlimited in His power and knowledge. But as Man He willingly laid aside His position and Philippians 2:7 tells us “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant.”
Jesus, when He took on a human nature, willingly limited Himself and needed to grow physically, mentally and spiritually, but did so without ever sinning.
The Holy Spirit aided Him every step of the way. In Isaiah 50:4 we find Jesus saying that “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.”
From 1 Corinthians 2 we know that the Spirit helps us to understand spiritual truths. In the case of Jesus it seems He received unique personal training.
So in His birth and childhood the Holy Spirit aided Jesus by separating Him from sinners and by teaching Him what He is to say.
That leads us to…
The Holy Spirit in the Ministry of Christ
When Jesus was baptized in Luke 3:22 we read that “the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’”
In our lives the Holy Spirit always meets with resistance because of our sin so our gifts and works are limited. But because Jesus knew no sin, when the Spirit descended upon Him, He was able to work fully and completely through Him.
Isaiah 11:2 gives us some insight here. We’re told that “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and of the fear of the LORD” came upon Him and we see these things throughout His ministry.
Jesus summarizes how He uses these gifts in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
So in His ministry The Holy Spirit led Jesus and empowered Him to preach and perform miracles and free us from sin.
This leads us to…
The Holy Spirit in the Death and Resurrection of Christ
The Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Comforter” in John 14:26. Ephesians 3:16 tells us the Holy Spirit strengthens us. If He comforts us how much more must He have comforted Jesus throughout His ministry and especially as His crucifixion drew near? How much more must He have strengthened Jesus as He agonized in the garden of Gethsemane?
Not only did the Spirit sustain Jesus Hebrews 9:14 tells us Jesus offered Himself through the Spirit. Whereas earthly alters were used by the priests to make sacrifices the Holy Spirit, in some mysterious way, acted as a spiritual alter to accept Christ’s sacrifice once and for all. Then finally in Romans 8:11 we see that the Spirit raised Christ from the dead.
So in His death and resurrection the Holy Spirit comforted and strengthened Jesus, acted as the alter through which Christ offered Himself and raised Him from the dead.
And we’re told this same Holy Spirit who reveals Christ, who applies salvation, who gives gifts, who empowers us, who teaches us, who comforts us, who strengthens us, this same Spirit is in us and loves us and is the guarantee of our salvation.