Demonstrating the unique relationship of the Triune God in the birth of Jesus Christ
Last week we discussed the unique Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, focussing on their relationship. We stated that they always function in unity. This week, and in the two weeks thereafter, we look at the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and will note that where the Son is, there the Father and the Holy Spirit are also.
The birth of Jesus Christ is prophesied:
14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14
Interestingly, we never read that He was called by that name in the New Testament, but because the name means “God with us” we know that the name is implied, as Jesus is God, and He is always with us. If He were not with us, then we would be denying His omnipresence. Let us look at events as described by the gospel writers, starting with Matthew:
18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. – Matthew 1:18
Luke describes it this way:
26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. – Luke 1:26-27
- The angel was sent by God, thus representing Him;
- It is clear that the Holy Spirit was the operator in Mary’s pregnancy, as confirmed in verse 20; and Luke 1:35; and acting in the quiet and reserved manner that personifies the being of the Holy Spirit;
- The Lord prophesied the birth, and Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14. The Son to be born is to be called Immanuel – God with us.
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. – John 1:14
The Word was born (made flesh and dwelt on the Earth) and his glory was that of His Father (who is in heaven). When we therefore look at the various references to the birth, we see the triune God in operation:
- The Holy Spirit operates within the mother;
- Jesus the Son, the Word, becomes flesh when He is born from Mary; and
- He reflects the glory of the Father, later saying that they that have seen Him, have seen the Father (John 12:45).
When it was time for the birth of Jesus, angels announced it to the shepherds. Angels are God’s messengers and thus bring His word to mere mortals. Note however, that an angel, the angel of the Lord, spoke to the shepherds and brought them the good news:
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. – Luke 2:8-12
Note the article used: the angel of the Lord. Some translations simply say an angel of the Lord. Nevertheless, the fact is that this was no ordinary angel. We read in Luke 1:26-33 that the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary to bring her the message of Jesus who would be born from her. Later, in Luke 2:9, when the message is given to the shepherds, the angel is not identified as Gabriel, but we can assume that Luke is referring to the same angel. In Luke’s account of the appearance of the angel to Mary, the message was personal and intimate, to comfort the mother-to-be. The second message, when the angel appeared to the shepherds, it was public, given not to scholars of the law or otherwise learned men, but to mere shepherds. It was then emphasised by the host of angels who praised God:
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:13-14
Although not strictly part of the birth of Jesus Christ, we should mention how the triune God was present before Jesus started His ministry. His baptism is probably the most vivid example of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit operating together:
13Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. – Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus is baptised, as those before and after Him. This is a human action. The Holy Spirit is presented as a dove. Then the Father speaks. He affirms that He is Father by referring to Jesus as His Son. This event should answer those who doubt that they should be baptised. Yes, you are saved by faith, not by being baptised, but the example set by Jesus cannot be ignored. John resisted baptising Jesus, but He requested him to do so as it would be God’s will. As we see, Jesus was obedient, even unto death. See Philippians 2:5-8.
For Jesus’ birth, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit operated together, each with His own function, never in isolation, and always in unison. Indeed, we serve one God, in three distinct Persons.