Advent devotional 5: The Overshadowing God

Photo: Living Nativity, Ralph Daily, Flickr

Photo: Living Nativity, Ralph Daily, Flickr

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son…” (Matthew 1:23)

Matthew’s concise account highlights the miracle of the virgin birth, which was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (7:14). God through his Holy Spirit overshadows Mary and conceives in her Jesus, who is both divine and human. It’s a mind-boggling concept of the Trinity at work: God, the creator of the universe, descends through his Holy Spirit to his creation in the person of Jesus, one who is God yet man, and thus one of the created. Being divine, Jesus can fulfill the meaning of his given name – Yahweh saves. Being human, Jesus can relate to us completely. Utterly brilliant.

But God doesn’t stop there, for following Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection is Pentecost, when he pours out his Holy Spirit on his people. As the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and thus brought about the indwelling of Jesus, we too can host Jesus. Of course not physically, but Christ living in us will transform us, cleansing us and bringing forth the gifts and the fruits of the Spirit (including wisdom, understanding, knowledge, right judgment and love; joy, peace, gentleness, faith, and self-control). What better gifts this Christmas season?

Jesus dwelling in us, which is made possible through the incarnation, is echoed in Scripture. Jesus refers to it, such as when instructing his disciples before he dies: “…I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20) or his final prayer for them: “I in them and you in me” (John 17:23). The Apostle Paul reflects this new reality in his letters, such as “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) or “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Celebrating the incarnation is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the reality of Jesus dwelling in us, and to rejoice.

Prayer: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16–17).

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