The Spirit of the Lord
You must come to realize that there is a vital difference between the knowledge of the truth, and the appropriation, the getting hold of, the power of the truth.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’
I would assume that at one time or another, we have all either heard or possibly even said ourselves, that we sense that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, that we are keenly aware, more than usual, of His very presence and we thereby act accordingly. To make such a statement is indeed one of great solemnity and honor for in so saying we are declaring that we are knowingly being influenced by something, or in this case, someone, outside ourselves, an influence apart from and external to our very being. When we speak thusly, we are placing ourselves in memorable company, for we know that the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew the trumpet to victory, we know that when the Spirit of the LORD fell upon the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah they were given great visions; we have read that Moses said “I wish that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put His spirit upon them,’ and we remember Samuel taking the horn of oil, and anointing David in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD coming upon him from that day forward; we remember how Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him and we recall how the Spirit of the LORD came upon Samson in power so much so that he tore a lion apart with his bare hands.
We readily acknowledge the influence of God’s Holy Spirit upon His servants at various times throughout the Biblical narrative, but we tend to overlook these identical words having been spoken by Jesus Himself as we heard in our Gospel reading today. Initially, they were words spoken by the prophet Isaiah as the Babylonian captivity of Israel was nearing its end. But here, we learn of Jesus, after He had finished speaking these words from the book of Isaiah, sitting down, and as all those in the synagogue who were listening to him had their eyes fastened upon Him, heard Him say without any elaboration, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’
Now, it is one thing for mortal man or woman to claim that the Spirit of the Lord has come upon them, inspiring and strengthening them to the performance of certain feats of faith and daring, but for the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the incarnate Son of the Living God, the Second Person of the Godhead to claim that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him, may cause us to take pause. Possibly you’ve never stopped to give it much thought, but consider the inherent implications when Jesus Himself claims that there are specific times when He too is under the influence of the Holy Ghost. Be assured, this is no trivial, insignificant, or inconsequential issue; something that we can ignore or file away for consideration at a later date for it concerns the very rock-bottom, foundational basis of our salvation. It is not just a question of theology; it is the essence of our very faith. It is imperative that you understand the work of the Holy Spirit upon the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the new man, the Last Adam, for if you do not, then I fear you may not have truly comprehended the Gospel message, the good tidings that Jesus proclaims.
We all acknowledge the Holy Ghost mysteriously and wondrously operating in the formation and birth of the holy child Jesus, for Scriptures tell us that by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost was that Holy thing born of the Virgin Mary and called the Son of God. We are further told that ‘the child grew, waxing strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and that the grace of God was upon Him’. The activity of the Holy Spirit towards Jesus was openly manifested for all to see when He came out of the waters of the Jordan after His baptism, and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and rested upon Him. We know that the Spirit immediately thrust Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of Satan. We are aware of the Spirit with Him in His performance of innumerable miracles and in the demonstration and power which accompanied His words, so that all recognized that He spoke as one having authority, and not as the Scribes. Verily, throughout His entire ministry, in the Garden of Gethsemane and right up to that momentous event at Calvary, Jesus was led of the Spirit and inspired and strengthened by His divine energy.
And then, upon the cross, Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Thy Hands I commend my Spirit’. Hebrews, chapter 9 tells us that we are purged by the blood of Christ, ‘who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.’ Thus, the Holy Spirit was intimately active also in the resurrection of Christ, for Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” The Sacred Word says that He was “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” And it is that same Spirit who Christ has received of the Father when He ascended up on high, when He led captivity captive and by the right hand of God has been exalted, yes it is that self-same Holy Spirit which Christ, as a reward for His redemptive acts, has given to the church, His body. Do not doubt for a moment that Jesus has paid the price to the fullest and that He is the propitiation for our sins, our Redeemer, but it is the Holy Spirit who makes effective and obtains for us all that Christ has accomplished.
Christ, the eternal Son, willingly became man, submitting Himself in all things to the will of the Father, and offered Himself as the sacrificial lamb, the suffering servant, to become the mediator, the only means of true relational communion between man and God – but it is only by the activity and the anointing of the Holy Spirit that His great sacrificial offering, all that He has accomplished as man, becomes of any eternal worth to us. You may believe that Jesus is indeed God, the only begotten Son of the Father, the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world for our sins, but that knowledge, that understanding, even faith in that truth, in and of itself, will no more save your immortal soul than will believing that the earth is round. Even the devils believe Jesus is who He claims to be and beg for His mercy. You must come to realize that there is a vital difference between the knowledge of the truth, and the appropriation, the getting hold of, the power of the truth. Spiritual things can be known only by the Spirit. This is why we are told that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; and why if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. We must receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 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. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, the mystical body of Christ.
But the Holy Spirit never, ever, glorifies Himself, only Christ, and it is in that connection alone that you will know Him, and in no other. Jesus said that He was anointed by the Spirit to preach good tidings. The main object of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus was to proclaim and fulfill the Gospel. Christ told those who were listening that day in the Synagogue that the Holy Spirit had anointed Him to preach the gospel to the poor, that the Holy Spirit had sent Him to heal the brokenhearted, that the Holy Spirit had anointed Him to preach deliverance to the captives, to recover the sight of the blind, to set at liberty those that are bruised and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And what is the Gospel message, the good tidings? It is more than that the Son of God became man, died on a cross, paid the price for our sins by that sacrifice, the shedding of His precious blood, and ascended back to heaven to prepare a place in eternity for us when we pass from this life into the next. Oh yes, that is the glorious truth, the uncompromising reality of what God has done for us, and it is the basis of our blessed hope and faith and peace, but it is an incomplete truth if there were not more – for all that Christ has accomplished is of no benefit whatsoever to you personally, should it remain an external, peripheral, abstract achievement. The Gospel message extends beyond the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father, for it is from there that He sends forth the Holy Spirit, baptizing those whom He has redeemed, bestowed upon His members incorporate, His mystical body, for it is by one Spirit that we are baptized into one body. That is why the Spirit is referred to in the New Testament, by the Apostles, as the Spirit of Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ became the Bearer of the Spirit, in order to be the Bestower of the Spirit. His Spirit. This is the full message of the good tidings, the Gospel – that the Spirit of the Ascended Christ, dwells with you and will be in you. Pentecost must not be seen as a separate event from Calvary and the Resurrection. Rather, it is the completion, the outworking of their significance. Jesus has received and borne the Spirit for His people that He might give His own Spirit to His people that they may then become fit to be received into that for which He has prepared for them throughout eternity.