At Christmas we talk about Jesus coming as a baby and growing up as a man who lived, died and rose from the grave. But there is more to the Christmas story about our Savior taking on flesh, being fully human and fully divine. Sometimes we forget that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel visited Mary and told her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah.
“Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). When Mary objected because she had “not been intimate with a man” (v.34), the angel assured her that “the power of the Most High will overshadow” her (v. 35).
I’m not a medical person, but I know the facts of gestation. Let’s relate those to Jesus as the “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). Life begins at conception. That’s an indisputable medical fact. Day one: Jesus, like any other human being, began life smaller than a grain of salt. Everything was in place. Nothing more had to be added. After fertilization the zygote traveled down the fallopian tube to imbed himself into the wall of Mary’s womb. There Jesus, this developing human, drew nourishment from his mother. On day 21 his heart began to beat and the foundations of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system were established. At one month gestational age this unborn human is 10,000 larger than the original size of the zygote. At week 11 this fetus is about 2 inches in length. Only time and nourishment were needed until his time of birth, when we call him ‘baby Jesus.’
So the next time when you think of the Christmas story, back up to the true beginning. That’s where the angel announced to Mary, “You will conceive and give birth.” We celebrate the birth of Jesus, but let’s not forget that His story starts like every other human being – at conception. Yet Jesus’ conception is miraculous, as we state in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”