The Holy Spirit has been given to us to BE a witness of Jesus Christ. Near the end of that article, I had written: BEING a witness of Jesus implies that our whole being (identity) exemplifies and demonstrates the Person of Jesus. Because we are under the New Covenant between God and man, we are all asked to demonstrate the life of Jesus and BE His witnesses. But we can only do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. I think all of us will quickly agree that this is easily the ONLY WAY we will be able to demonstrate and evidence the very holy life of Jesus through our corrupt selves. So how can this life of Jesus be evidenced through our lives? Let me share some things from the story of Mary. I hope you will follow me in the analogy I’d like to make to Mary: Mary was the person through whom the physical body of Jesus was birthed. She is the only human being who carried the physical Jesus in her womb, and through whom the physical life of Jesus began here on earth. But we can be like Mary spiritually – in that we are asked to bear forth the spiritual life of Jesus through us. So the good news for us began when God birthed the physical life of Jesus through Mary 2000 years ago. The good news (gospel) continues now in that God wants to birth the spiritual life of Jesus through us! First of all, we must recognize that Mary was a corrupt and sinful human being. She was not perfect – her heart too was exceedingly deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). That should give the rest of us hope! But what was special about Mary that made her a fitting vessel for the life of Jesus to be formed inside of her? God specifically looked down upon His creation and specifically found Mary to be the favored vessel to carry Jesus (Luke 1:30). First, let us understand a couple of principles about the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 1, Joseph wanted to put away Mary secretly because he had found out that Mary was pregnant. But we read this in Matthew 1:20 – an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
A. Jesus was formed in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit
Let’s be very clear – there were no birthing pills or yoga exercises or anything else that could get the virgin Mary to birth Jesus. The Holy Spirit was absolutely essential.
It was IMPOSSIBLE for Mary to bear Jesus without the Holy Spirit.
B. The Holy Spirit didn’t do this alone. He worked with the womb of Mary.
We must also recognize that the Holy Spirit did NOT do it all by Himself. The womb of Mary was still an essential part of the Divine plan of God. Look, of course, God the Father was FULLY CAPABLE of creating a body out of nothing and placing the Person of Jesus in it. But it was part of God’s intentional plan to PARTNER with humans.
God loves to partner with humans. Jesus could have created wine at the wedding at Cana, but he worked with the servants to have them pour water into the pots first. Jesus could have turned the stones into bread that fed 5,000 people, but He instead chose to multiply the 5 loaves and 2 fish offered by a little boy. So also, God could transform us into the image of Jesus in an instant – if He so desired. But this is not what He wants. He longs to PARTNER WITH US to work this miracle.
So with that said, let us look at the story of Mary in Luke 1:26-38 and let me share two valuable lessons from her story. If you have a Bible, read this passage first.But these are two attitudes that must be present in us too…
1. It is as impossible to BE a witness of Jesus, as it is for a virgin to have a baby
Imagine for a second that I was to tell you that my sister was single, but was pregnant, even though she had no interaction with or intervention by any man. How would you react? You would probably laugh at me, maybe even in my face. You would have a right to do so – because we all know that it is IMPOSSIBLE for ANY woman to birth a child naturally without help from a man. From biology, we know that the egg of a woman needs the sperm of a man to fertilize the egg and begin the process of forming a child. We see this little expression of Mary’s in Luke 1:34 – “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Now think about your desire to birth and bear forth the life of Jesus. Do you realize the absolute impossibility of the command that we must BE witnesses of Jesus, and have the life of Jesus flow through us? We too need to fully embrace this attitude CONSTANTLY, as we read the daunting commands of Jesus.
How can it be, dear Lord, that I would not lust with my eyes?
How can it be, dear Lord, that I rejoice always?
How can it be, dear Lord, that I be anxious for nothing?
How can it be, dear Lord, that I live my life without fear?
This is too daunting an expectation, isn’t it? But if we are honest, we will admit that it is very easy to pretend that Jesus has already been birthed in a particular area. We think we have to somehow manufacture the life of Jesus by ourselves. We are like those who pretend to have a baby – pushing around a stroller, shopping for baby clothes, buying milk bottles, etc – everything that actual mothers do. But when you look at what exactly they are dressing up and pushing around in the stroller, you find out it’s just a doll. So too, there can be Christians who pretend that to have the life of Jesus formed in them. They pretend to have victory over some sin. Men can fool even their wives for a while that they are spiritual. But sooner or later, the wives discover that their husband’s minds still burn with lust, and turn to pornography for their satisfaction. And they still have occasional fits of anger and rage. Or world system and the things of this world, and has NO PLANS to give it up. Her entire mood is driven by what clothes she wears, whether her house is perfect, and on and on. These are examples of people who are pretending to have the life of Jesus birthed in them. Some others may not pretend to be holy, but might pretend to have a sincere desire to be holy. But they are not really serious. They are like women who pretend to be pregnant – they stuff pillows under their dresses to fake it, hang out with other real pregnant women, complain about morning sickness, etc. But they’ll never go for a physical check-up, and they’ll never let others get close enough to feel the baby kicking, because then they’ll be found out by the doctor or by their friends as living a HUGE LIE. In the same way, such Christians will sing with tears in their eyes that Jesus is everything to them. But you look at their lives, and Jesus is just one small part of their lives. They still love this world system and the things of this world. Those close to them still see that they love the approval of people. They are still controlled by their emotions – and not been able to get over their bad moods. But they’ll never submit to somebody more spiritual to them, and ask them for an honest spiritual checkup. Let us not be like this. Instead, let us embrace a “How can this be” attitude of impossibility – when it comes to birthing and bearing the life of Jesus. If you read the passage in Luke 1, you see in verse 35 that God did make the impossible happen: 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.” It was the Holy Spirit who made the virgin womb (which is absolutely incapable f having a baby) nonetheless birth Jesus. In the same way, it is the Holy Spirit who makes our corrupt selves (which is absolutely incapable of having the life of Jesus) nonetheless birth the life of Jesus in us.
2. I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done according to God’s Word.
This is the other attitude of Mary that we must embrace. This is what Mary said There are some people who might keep confessing the impossibility of their being able to bear the life of Jesus through them. This honesty is crucial as I’ve mentioned before. But every statement of honesty MUST be coupled with a statement of faith. I believe that the reason why so many sincere Christians who are honest and humble never experience the Holy Spirit in their lives is that they don’t have the faith like Mary did. There is no spiritual virtue in honesty if it is not accompanied by faith. God’s Word only works for those who are fully surrendered to the Lord. So if God’s Word tells you that you are going to bring forth the life of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, we say amen to that – even as we fully recognize how impossible it is on our own (point 1). The Holy Spirit makes the impossible! For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37)! This is the faith of Abraham that believed God for 25 years that he would have be the father of a multitude – even though his wife was already 65 when the promise was made. This is the faith of Joshua and Caleb that told the rest of the 600,000 Israelites that the giants in Canaan could be defeated. This is the faith of David – who unlike the rest of the Israelites that saw Goliath, refused to stand down when a Philistine “should taunt the armies of the living God.” This is the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that told King Nebuchadnezzar, “even if God does not deliver us out of the blazing fire, we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Look at your present situation and the area that you think it’s impossible to be a witness for Jesus. Is it as impossible as a 85 year old woman having a baby? Is it as impossible as a virgin having a baby? Well, then we have examples for the faith we must have too. So I hope we will meditate on this incredible story of Mary 2000 years ago – and learn from her immense honesty AND faith. And may we approach the God of Mary in the same way – knowing that it is impossible to live this Christian life without the Holy Spirit’s help, but also reaching up to God in full confidence that He will give us what we need and help us.
©Copyright – Sandeep Poonen
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