If you watch, read, imagine, or have a fleeting thought about God’s method of conceiving Jesus, there is no getting around the fact that it was absolutely scandalous. If your daughter came and told you that she was pregnant, but that the baby was conceived when she was overcome with the Holy Spirit, would you believe her? Honestly! You would say, “Oh. My. God! Don’t be telling me such nonsense at a time like this!” It scandalized Mary’s betrothed husband, and you have to think that it scandalized everyone else that might have learned of it.
In that particular culture, there would have been very little to no tolerance at all for this; so it looks like they kept it under wraps. Such a major event, kept secret! God conceived a baby – don’t tell anyone or they’ll stone the mother! The shepherds in the field wouldn’t have known except for the angels. Did Mary’s parents even know? We all know that Jesus went on to do things like heal people on the Sabbath, harvest wheat on the Sabbath, hang out with tax-gatherers and sinners, call the religious leaders vipers and white-washed tombs, and say that before Abraham was born He existed — all rebel kinds of things that flouted the law. Come to think of it, didn’t He raise from the dead on the Sabbath? I bet that flouted the law as well. But He was flouting the law even at His first conception in the womb, as a little zygote.
Was He flouting the law in a sinful way? No! But people under the law cannot imagine a life where they flout the law and yet do not sin. This is the way of the Spirit, from the time of Jesus’ immaculate conception on. I think that when there is a true work of the Holy Spirit in our life, we can expect this same dynamic. The gospel itself shines forth this same truth – that apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested. When you have faith in Jesus, you have faith in a law-flouting rebel zygote that has come in the flesh. Who knew you could find the Christmas story in Romans 3:21, but there it is!
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.