With more songs sung to Him and books written regarding Him than anyone else who has ever lived, Jesus is the most admired man in all of history. But, God wants us to not only admire the life of Jesus, but also experience the same source of life-giving power that He did.
The empowerment of Jesus through God the Holy Spirit is repeatedly stressed in the Gospel of Luke. There we find that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and given the title “Christ,” which means anointed by the Holy Spirit.8 Jesus’ aunt Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when greeting Jesus’ pregnant mother, Mary, and His uncle Zechariah went on to prophesy that their son John was appointed by God to prepare the way for Jesus.9 An angel had revealed to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus; when Mary asked how that was possible since she was a virgin, the angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”10
Once born, Jesus was dedicated to the Lord by Simeon in the temple according to the demands of the law. “the Holy Spirit was upon [Simeon]” and the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until seeing Jesus Christ.11 Simeon was “in the Spirit” when he prophesied about Jesus’ ministry to Jews and Gentiles to the glory of God.12 John later prophesied that one day Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit.13 The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His own baptism.14 It is curious that while the Gospels give scant information about Jesus’ childhood, all four include the account of Jesus’ baptism. Matthew adds the interesting statement that the Spirit rested on Jesus, as if to suggest that the remainder of His life and ministry on the earth would be done under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.15
Regarding Jesus’ baptism, Graham Cole writes, “The symbol of the dove and Jesus’ emerging from the waters, soon to reenter the land, possibly conjure up the old stories of Noah’s flood and Israel’s exodus from Egypt and its eventual crossing over the Jordan into the Promised Land. God is about to do something of extraordinary significance in salvation-history.”16
In the remainder of Luke’s Gospel we discover that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit,” “led by the Spirit,”17 and came “in the power of the Spirit.”18
Jesus began His public ministry by reading Isaiah 61:1–2, which says,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” Jesus then declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”19
Luke continues by revealing that Jesus also “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.”20 Regarding the Holy Spirit’s ministry to and through Christians, Jesus promised that God the Father would “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”21 and that the Holy Spirit would teach us once He was sent.22
Gerald Hawthorne, who has written on the subject of Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit says, “Not only is Jesus their Savior because of who he was and because of his own complete obedience to the Father’s will (cf. Heb. 10:5-7), but he is the supreme example for them of what is possible in a human life because of his total dependence upon the Spirit of God.”23 By closely examining the relationship between Jesus and God the Holy Spirit during Jesus’ earthly life, we see that they work in cooperation, not in competition. Furthermore, we see that Jesus, and not some goofy guru, is the quintessential example of what it means to live a Spirit-filled life. Important also is the fact that Jesus’ life was lived by the power of the Spirit as a missionary in culture.
How did Jesus grow in wisdom, stature, and favor? How did Jesus love His enemies, forgive those who did evil against Him, and suffer injustice? How did Jesus avoid all temptation, always tell the truth, and defeat Satan? By the power of the Holy Spirit!
And, this is the same Spirit which now lives in each child of God. Yes, we can live an increasingly Spirit-filled life like Jesus Christ if we avail ourselves to His presence and power, believe in His work and Word, and submit to His love and leading as Jesus did. Indeed, a Spirit-filled life is one in which we have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit who brings us the same life-giving power which Jesus had.
Take some time today to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, empower you, and make you more like Jesus.
8 Luke 1–2.
9 Luke 1:41–43, 67, 76.
10 Luke 1:35–37.
11 Luke 2:25–27.
12 Luke 2:27–34.
13 John 1:14; Phil. 2:5–6; Col. 2:9; 1 John 4:2.
14 For example, Matt. 4:1–10 and Heb. 4:14–16.
15 Matt. 3:16.
16 Cole, He Who Gives Life, 158.
17 Luke 4:1–2.
18 Luke 4:14.
19 Luke 4:14–21.
20 Luke 10:21.
21 Luke 11:13.
22 Luke 12:12.
23 Gerald F. Hawthorne, The Presence and the Power: The Significance of the Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus (Dallas, TX: Word, 1991), 234.