Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:34-35).
The angel Gabriel had spoken to Mary about wondrous things which would take place — things which would not only change her life, but change her world completely for the better.

“How can this be?” she asked. This was not a question of unbelief, or even doubt, as was Zechariah’s question. Zechariah asked in unbelief: “How shall I know this?” In mercy, Gabriel silenced his lips that he might learn to hear.

No, Mary’s question was faith seeking understanding. And so Gabriel explained: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you.” In other words, this was not about man but about God.

This was a God-thing, and reminiscent of the Creation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2). The Holy Spirit was brooding over the earth, overshadowing it.

On the Sixth Day, God said, “Let us make man in Our image” (Genesis 1:26). The root of the Hebrew word for “image” literally means “to shade.” We can read this verse: “Let us make man in Our shadow. Let us overshadow Him with Our likeness.” When God created Adam, breathing into his nostrils the divine breath of life, He was overshadowing him.

Now the Holy Spirit would brood over Mary, and the power of God would overshadow her, to bring forth the Second Adam.

“That Holy One who is to be born,” the angel continued, “will be called the Son of God.” This was fully humanity and full divinity coming together, the eternal Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity, taking upon Himself human flesh.

God overshadows us still. Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). This was fulfilled at Pentecost, in Acts 2. The Greek words for the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary are the same words used for the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples.

Later, in Acts 5, we see this Holy Spirit power in action as people lined the way where Peter passed, bringing their sick out on beds and couches, that the shadow of Peter might “fall on” them. The Greek word for “fall on” is the same word for “overshadow” in Luke 1:35. In Luke, this overshadowing produced new life in Mary. In Acts, it produced healing in as many was were touched by it.

Jesus has come, and all who receive Him can now walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, overshadowed by the life-changing glory of God.