Whether it makes sense or not, that is what we see when we read through the gospels. This lesson will not be as deep or as broad as it could be, but let’s think about some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit and the Saviour worked together.
Holy Spirit and the birth of Christ?
Overall, was the birth of the Lord Jesus miraculous? What in the character of this miracle sets it apart from all the other miracles of God? In all the other miracles didn’t God make significant changes in His creation? How? In the virgin birth, the Lord, in a sense made a significant change in Himself. How? To believe any miracle requires faith – which is a challenge to the unbeliever. To believe in the virgin birth requires a faith which is a challenge specifically to the theologian.
Who was the agent of Jesus’ conception? Did Jesus have a human father? Well then how did Mary conceive? Matthew 1:18-21 – “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. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is OF THE HOLY GHOST. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Luke is even more specific: “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.”
Is it possible to isolate one person of the Trinity to the exclusion of the others? Of whom was Paul speaking in Hebrews 10 when he wrote: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast THOU prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.” That is a quote from Psalm 40: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Who prepared a body for the Lord Jesus? It wasn’t Mary? Did the Eternal Son of God have no role to play in the incarnation? (He definitely had a role….) Listen carefully to this question: Was there anything specfiically miraculous about Jesus’ birth? (No.) The miracle was in His conception. Who was the specific creative Agent in that conception? Some more questions: Did Jesus become the God-man at His birth? (Prior.) Why wasn’t Jesus born with Adam’s sin nature? Was Jesus less than human since He didn’t possess Adam’s sin nature? How important are the doctrines that relate to Jesus’ virgin birth?
The Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ.
What do we mean when we say that someone is filled with the Spirit? (Under the control of the Spirit???) Was John the Baptist filled with the Spirit? At what point did John become infilled? Luke 1:15 – “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” Could we say that the Lord Jesus was filled with the Spirit? At what point was He filled with the Spirit? Isaiah 11:1-2 – “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.” Other Old Testament passages we might look at are in Isaiah 42 and Isaiah 61. How much of the Holy Spirit do YOU possess? I don’t mean are you indwelt by the Spirit, because every Christian is. And I don’t mean are you now filled with the Spirit? How much of the Holy Spirit do you possess? (I’m not sure if there is an answer to that question.) What then does John the Baptist mean in John 3:34? “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.”
At what point did Jesus of Nazareth begin to show that he was unlike other children? Should we give the credit for His unique character entirely to God the Son?
Did Jesus’ life change at the time of His baptism? Do you think that prior to that time, that Jesus never taught or ministered to anyone? What two things occurred at the time of Jesus’ baptism? (The Father spoke and the Spirit descended.) Did Jesus not possess the Spirit until that time? The descent of the Spirit was to indicate a change in Jesus ministry.
What do we mean when we say that Jesus was ANOINTED of the Spirit to preach the gospel? Turn to Matthew 12:14-21 – “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Jesus was quoting Isaiah 41:1-4 – “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; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Turn to Luke 4:16 – “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 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. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
According to Galatians, what is the fruit of the Spirit? (Love, joy, peace…..) Would you say that during His earthly life, the Lord Jesus displayed the fruit of the Spirit? Would you say that He was able to reach the hearts of the people to whom He was speaking? If someone today does that, to Whom do we attribute that success? (The Holy Spirit.) Should we give the Spirit that credit in Jesus’ ministry, or was it entirely Christ’s own divine ability?
What was the source of the prophet Isaiah’s predictions? From where did Jeremiah or Daniel receive their knowledge of the future? Should we think that Jesus’ ministry as a prophet be entirely different from the Old Testament prophets?
From where did Jesus receive power to work miracles? Did Jesus perform miracles by His own power and authority? (Yes, and no.) Turn to Matthew 12:25 – “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” Remember that in Luke 4 Jesus said, “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.” I don’t know if this is correct, but it seems that Jesus CHOSE to perform miracles in the power of the Spirit. It was not that He had no alternative.
The work of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s suffering and glorification.
When Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, who took Him there? Mark 1:12 – “And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” After those trials who strengthened Christ? (Angels.) However Luke 4:14 says, “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.” Although angels may have ministered to the suffering Saviour, it was the Spirit Who sustained Him.
When we come to study the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, we are on holy and mysterious ground. We can easily know some things, but others are really difficult. Who made the sacrifice which resulted in our salvation? (Father, Son and Spirit.) Listen to Hebrews 9:14 – “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Is there anyone here who fully understands and can explain this reference to the Spirit?
When Jesus hung on the cross and cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” what did He mean? Was the Lord no longer filled with the Spirit? Could it mean that Christ felt that the blessings of the Father had been withdrawn? If that is the case, does it mean that He was no longer being sustained by the Spirit?
Did the Spirit have anything to do with Jesus’ resurrection? What? Listen to Romans 8:10-11 – “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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.” How was Christ raised up by the Spirit? If we can make a parallel, how we shall be quickened, is how the Saviour was quickened. I Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” I don’t think that the exact nature of the Spirit’s relationship to Jesus’ resurrection is exactly revealed in the Word of God. But the clear declaration of Scripture is that there was some kind of ministry there.
Generally speaking, what do you think was the primary ministry of the Spirt towards Christ? (Glorification.) If that was true while Jesus was incarnate, do you think that it will be much different in eternity?