Thursday, December 24th, 2020

How the Holy Spirit Makes Us Holy

CHRISTMAS EVE                                                                          December 24, 2020


MATTHEW 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.




This baby, says the angel, this little one conceived in Mary, is of the Holy Spirit.


This work of bringing forth the Christmas child is Trinitarian—a work of the Holy Trinity. It’s not just God the Son, though it is certainly him—God the Son coming in the flesh as a human to join those he loves and to save them from their sins.


It’s the work, too, of God the Father, who has been Father to the Son in eternity, from before even the creation of the world and the creation of his Image on Earth in Adam and Eve.


God the Father has now sent forth his Son to be part of the created order, to be a creature himself, according to his human nature, while still at the same time, according to his divine nature, God the Son remains uncreated, and remains himself, the creator.


And it’s the work of the Holy Spirit.


In this mystery of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet One God—in this great mystery of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit comes to the Virgin Mary in a Word. And by having that word spoken into her ear—that word, which is, You will bear a Son, and you will call his name Jesus—by having that word spoken into her ear, the Holy Spirit gives her the conceiving of a child.


This Holy Spirit was there with the Father and the Son at the creation of the world, even before we brought the good creation into sin.


The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, creating mankind and all things as they were in conversation with one another.


This is the Holy Spirit who spoke by the prophets, giving Israel the promise of a Savior who would save sinners from their sins.


This is the Holy Spirit who throughout the history of the Tabernacle and the Temple was using the mouths of the priests to declare people clean before the face of God.


This is God the Spirit who all along has been known as the Holy Spirit because in his grace, he makes sinners holy.


He has now given conception to the Virgin Mary. She will bear a Son and call his name Jesus, for he will save people from their sins.



And this is all brought to you and me and our families now by the Holy Spirit, who makes us holy.


And this is how the Holy Spirit makes us holy: By bringing to us Jesus and his gifts.


By gathering us to the proclamation of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


By teaching us that everything Jesus did in his Incarnation, everything he did in his humiliation, everything he accomplished in his death on the cross, everything he did in his resurrection—he did it all for us. He did it all to take our sin upon himself and to make us holy. He did it to justify us before his Father, because he loves us.


He became flesh, he came as the child of Mother Mary, in order to be brother to those he loved.


He grew up to teach in the synagogues in order to comfort the poor and the beat-down with his grace.


He went before Pontius Pilate to be humiliated, and he died on the cross, in order to save from sins those whose sin he willingly took upon himself.


And he now sends forth his Holy Spirit in order to gather his people to his Name, to assemble his church to his Body and Blood, in order to bring his forgiveness to us as gift, giving us the Holy Spirit, who by the Gospel makes us holy.


This is Mary’s child. You will call him Jesus, the angel told Mary, for he will save people from their sins.


We call him Jesus. He saves us from ours.