The Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ
The Holy Spirit | The Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ
Several prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, stated that He would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Isaiah the prophet wrote, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD." (Isaiah 11:1-3).
Again, Isaiah prophecied in 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
Matthew Henry penned in his commentary, "The prophets had the Holy Spirit of God at times, teaching them what to say, and causing them to say it; but Christ had the Spirit always, without measure, to qualify him, as man, for the work to which he was appointed. The poor are commonly best disposed to receive the gospel, and it is only likely to profit us when received with meekness. To such as are poor in spirit, Christ preached good tidings when he said, Blessed are the meek. Christ's satisfaction is accepted. By the dominion of sin in us, we are bound under the power of Satan; but the Son is ready, by his Spirit, to make us free; and then we shall be free indeed. Sin and Satan were to be destroyed; and Christ triumphed over them on his cross. But the children of men, who stand out against these offers, shall be dealt with as enemies. Christ was to be a Comforter, and so he is; he is sent to comfort all who mourn, and who seek to him, and not to the world, for comfort. He will do all this for his people, that they may abound in the fruits of righteousness, as the branches of God's planting. Neither the mercy of God, the atonement of Christ, nor the gospel of grace, profit the self-sufficient and proud. They must be humbled, and led to know their own character and wants, by the Holy Spirit, that they may see and feel their need of the sinner's Friend and Saviour. His doctrine contains glad tidings indeed to those who are humbled before God."
The Birth of Christ
Matthew and Luke in their gospel histories state explicitly that Jesus was not conceived by the union of Joseph and Mary, but that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Matthew wrote in 1:18, "Now 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."
Luke elaborated in his gospel, "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:26-35).
Because of this miraculous conception, Jesus was holy and free from all the stain of sin. He was both God and man, and He was worthy to take upon Himself our guilt and sin and to make an atonement at the Cross. We could never experience redemption without a perfect sinless Savior.
The Baptism of Christ
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove, personally anointing and equipping Jesus with power to fulfill His mission and ministry. Luke wrote in his gospel, "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:21-22).
Luke also noted that after His baptism, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. Luke wrote, "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." (Luke 4:1). All Christians, being reborn and regenerated by the blood of Christ through the Spirit, should seek also to be full of the Holy Ghost, to be empowered for the work and ministry and purpose God has for each of us.
The Temptation of Christ
As Luke wrote in 4:1, after being baptized Jesus was immediately led by the Spirit into the wilderness where Christ was tempted by Satan. Being full of the Spirit, He was able to face Satan's temptations and come away victorious. Likewise, it is God's desire that we never face the enemy without the power of the Spirit. We must be equipped with His fulness and follow His leading in order to walk in victory. Notice too, after Jesus faced the temptations of Satan, Luke noted that "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee" (Luke 4:14)!
The Ministry of Christ
After Jesus returned from the wilderness into Galilee, full of the Holy Spirit, He went into Nazareth, the town of His birth. And going into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was His custom, He stood up and read from the prophet Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus would then tell all, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:21). In Jesus' reference to the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy about the Spirit coming upon Him, He also used the same passage to outline the nature of His ministry and mission as being one of preaching, healing, and liberation.
The Holy Spirit anointed and empowered Christ to fulfill His mission and ministry. Jesus was God (see John 1:1), but He was also man. Paul said in his letter to Timothy, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5). And as a man, He had to rely strongly upon the help and power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill His mission and carry out the work which God gave Him to do. Acts 10:38 states, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."
Just as Jesus did not begin His ministry until He had been anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles were also instructed by the resurrected Christ to wait and not begin their ministry until they too had been filled with the Spirit. Jesus told them, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:46-49). Let these examples be a lesson for us all - let us pray and be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit before we begin any work or labor for the Lord.
Jesus' Promises Regarding the Holy Spirit
John the Baptist, in his ministry, prophecied that when the Messiah comes, he would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit. Matthew recorded John's words, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." (Matthew 3:11).
Jesus reminded the disciples of this promise after His resurrection. Acts 1:4-5 states, "And [Jesus] being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (see also Acts 11:16).
In Luke 11:13, Jesus promised that God would give the Holy Spirit to all who ask. He said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Matthew Henry writes in his commentary regarding this verse, "Christ encourages fervency and constancy in prayer. We must come for what we need, as a man does to his neighbour or friend, who is kind to him. We must come for bread; for that which is needful. If God does not answer our prayers speedily, yet he will in due time, if we continue to pray. Observe what to pray for; we must ask for the Holy Spirit, not only as necessary in order to our praying well, but as all spiritual blessings are included in that one. For by the influences of the Holy Spirit we are brought to know God and ourselves, to repent, believe in, and love Christ, and so are made comfortable in this world, and meet for happiness in the next. All these blessings our heavenly Father is more ready to bestow on every one that asks for them, than an indulgent parent is to give food to a hungry child. And this is the advantage of the prayer of faith, that it quiets and establishes the heart in God."
The Resurrection of Christ
Jesus was raised from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, we too will be raised by the Spirit from the grave. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:11; see also 1 Corinthians 6:14, 2 Corinthians 4:14).
Christ's Ascension into Heaven
After Jesus' resurrected, He ascended into Heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father. And being now in Heaven, He fulfilled His promise to send the Comforter. Peter states in Acts 2:33 regarding the strange but wonderful events on the day of Pentecost, "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
This was a fulfillment of John's statement in his gospel. In John 7:37-39 we read, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and throughout this present age, testifies to the fact that we have a living and exalted Savior seated at the right hand of the Father.
Christ's Nearness to His People Through the Spirit
One of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ to believers, or to take that which is Christ's and show it unto His followers. Jesus stated in John 16:13-15, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
The redemptive benefits of salvation in Christ are given to us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit makes us aware of the presence of Christ, His love, blessing, help, forgiveness, healing, and all other benefits which are ours through faith. The Holy Spirit draws our hearts to seek the Lord in prayer, devotion, love, and worship. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Galatians 4:6-7; see also Romans 8:14-16). Jesus stated to the woman at the well, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24).
Jesus' Return for His People
Jesus has promised to return and receive His faithful people to Himself so that we may be with Him always. John 14:3 states, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." This return of Christ is the blessed hope of all believers - the event we should all pray for and long for. Paul wrong in his letter to Titus, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
Paul the apostle wrote to the church at Thessalonica, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
The Holy Spirit, on that great day, will bring to life and raise from the grave those who have passed on before us (Romans 8:11). And it is the Holy Spirit which stirs and directs our hearts to pray and cry out for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit Himself concludes the canon of scripture with a prayer for Christ's return, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." (Revelation 22:17).