No Greater Gift-No Greater Need


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11)

Ray Stedman, in a sermon, “Jesus Came,”

But it was also, as you will note from Mark’s account, an empowering moment: “And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove…” (“Immediately” is Mark’s favorite word, by the way. He uses it again and again, all through this account.) It is very significant that the moment Jesus begins to take our place, the Father gives him the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater gift God can give to men. There is no greater need that we have as individuals than to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is by the Holy Spirit that man is able to live as he wants to live, and longs to live, and is able to overcome the power of sin and guilt and fear within us. Therefore the primary, elementary, most fundamental need of guilty men is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus when Jesus began to take our place, there was immediately given to him the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is not the first time Jesus had the Spirit — we must not think of it that way. It is recorded of John the baptist that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. And certainly if that was true of John, it was also true of Jesus. He lived by the Spirit during those quiet years in Nazareth. He submitted himself to his parents, grew up in a carpenter’s shop and learned the trade. And through those uneventful days, living in ordinary circumstances in that little village, Jesus lived by the power of the Spirit in his life — there is no question about it.

Then what is happening now, when the Spirit comes upon him like a dove? The answer is that he is given a new manifestation of the Spirit, especially in terms of power. To use the language of Scripture, Jesus was anointed by the Spirit at this point. In Old Testament times they anointed kings and priests by pouring oil upon their heads, committing them to the function and office in which they were to serve. This is the picture of what is now occurring in Jesus’ life. He is being anointed by God through the Spirit with power — power to meet the demands of the ministry upon which he is about to launch. That is why the Spirit, in this sense, is always associated with the coming of power into a life. Our Lord is anointed with power. Some weeks later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Luke tells us, Jesus quoted a passage in Isaiah 61 which dealt with this, and applied the words to himself:

  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering the sight of the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
{Luke 4:18-19 RSV}

These were the ministries that were his during the next three and a half years, and now his public ministry begins with the anointing by the Holy Spirit with power.

Do not think of this as something remote from us?

Remarkable as they may be, nevertheless all these things that happened to Jesus can happen, and, indeed, must happen to us. That is the whole thrust of this teaching. He was taking our place; therefore what happened to him must happen to us. That is why Jesus, standing with his disciples after the resurrection, said to them, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” {Acts 1:8 RSV}. This is true. The Spirit of God must come upon us. The gift of the Holy Spirit must be given to us, so that we might have the power to live as God wants us to live.

 

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