In today’s study, Derek looks at the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, which is a key to the entire ministry of Jesus. Jesus did nothing until the Holy Spirit came upon Him and then waited for the Holy Spirit’s direction all things. This is a perfect example for how we are to live, taking on the nature of lamb to attract the dove, the Holy Spirit.
It’s good to be with you again sharing on this week’s important theme, “How to be Led by the Holy Spirit.”
But first, let me say thank you to those of you who have been writing to me. Before I finish this talk we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. Feel free to share with us your personal needs, your problems, your prayer requests. Each month our listeners write in to tell us of prayer requests that have been wonderfully answered. Now, back to our theme, “How to be Led by the Holy Spirit.”
In my talk yesterday I shared with you two vitally important facts about the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Holy Spirit is a person. This is something that I have been emphasizing continually because I see that so many Christians really don’t grasp this fact. God the Father is a person, Jesus Christ the Son is a person, and the Holy Spirit is just as much a person as the Father and the Son. And he requires that we have a personal relationship with Him.
I suggested yesterday that in every kind of personal relationship, if it’s to be successful, there’s one primary requirement which is mutual sensitivity. The Holy Spirit, believe me, is very sensitive to us. But the relationship will not work unless we learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. And I want to tell you that normally speaking the Holy Spirit does not act like a drill sergeant. He doesn’t shout orders at us. He is very gentle. He is almost timid, in a way. We read somewhere in the Old Testament about the prophet Elijah—the wind, an earthquake and a fire passed before him but the scripture says the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. All those great demonstrations of visible power, the Lord’s presence was not found. And then it says there came a still, small voice. One of the modern versions says a kind of a whisper. And the Lord was in the whisper. And that’s like the Holy Spirit. So, if you’re going to hear his whisper, if you’re going to feel his nudge—he’s not going to push you, he’s just going to nudge you gentle or tap you on the arm, direct your attention to something. The key to success is sensitivity.
Then the second thing I said yesterday is the Holy Spirit is Lord. He is God. He is just as much Lord as the Father and the Son and therefore we owe him complete submission. Just as complete as we owe to the Father and the Son, we owe to the Holy Spirit. In fact, our submission to the Father and to the Son, in reality, goes no further than our submission to the Spirit. We can say we are submitted to God the Father and God the Son, we can call Jesus Christ “Lord,” but He is actually no more Lord in our lives than the Holy Spirit’s Lordship is recognized by us.
Today we’re going to look at the opening of the ministry of Jesus and see how strongly the gospels emphasize his relationship to the Holy Spirit. We’ll turn to John 1, read verse 29 and a few other verses following. Verse 29 describes the introduction which John the Baptist gave to Jesus. It says:
“The next day [John] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (NAS)
What beautiful words! So, John introduced Jesus there as the “Lamb of God.” We’ll comment on that later. Then, a little further on in verses 32B34 John speaks again, and it says:
“John bore witness saying, I have beheld the Spirit [capital s, the Holy Spirit] descending as a dove out of heaven: and He [He is the Spirit] remained upon Him. [Notice the two persons? ‘He’ remained upon ‘Him.’] And I did not recognize Him [Jesus], but [the one] who sent me to baptize in water said to me, [the one] upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (NAS)
If you look at those verses you will find the threefold introduction of Jesus as the Lamb of God, the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit and, the Son of God. Now, only in John’s gospel do we have the introduction of Jesus as the Lamb of God. It’s tremendously important. It’s a glorious fact. But it’s very significant that in all four gospels John is recorded as introducing Jesus as the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. And yet for centuries the church has said so little about Jesus as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. There are very few things apart from the actual death and resurrection of Jesus which are recorded in all four gospels but this is one of them—that Jesus is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. How did John identify Him? He said, “I was told that when I saw the Spirit descending like a dove and remaining on Him, that would be the one who would baptize in the Holy Spirit.”
So we have there two pictures from the animal creation. We have Jesus represented as the Lamb, the Holy Spirit represented as the dove. What do we learn from the relationship between them? What are the characteristics that a lamb suggests to us, in the light of scripture? I would suggest there are three: purity, meekness and sacrifice—that is, a life laid down.
Now, I want to point out to you that this is what attracts the dove, the Holy Spirit. He is looking for the lamb nature. That’s where He’s going to settle and that’s where He’s going to remain. He does not approve of arrogance, of self seeking, boastfulness, of aggressiveness. He’s looking for purity, meekness and a life laid down. The key fact in all this is not just that the dove descended on Jesus but that the dove remained on Jesus. In all His ministry Jesus never said or did one thing that would frighten the dove away. In the natural the dove is a somewhat timid bird. He’s easily scared. And that’s true, in a sense, in the spiritual. The dove, the Holy Spirit, is timid. If we say and do things that he doesn’t—that He can’t accept, He’ll leave. He’ll just take wings and fly off. The marvelous thing about Jesus is He never scared the dove.
This relationship with the Holy Spirit is the key to the entire ministry of Jesus. When He spoke in His own city, in Nazareth, in the synagogue, this is what He said: (Luke 4:17B21)
“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he said to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (NIV)
What was the scripture? The Spirit of the Lord is on me... he has anointed me...” To do what? Preach good news, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed. The entire ministry of Jesus, both His preaching and His ministry to the oppressed, to the sick, to the demon possessed, was based on one thing only, the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Him. It’s a very significant fact that the New Testament does not record a single sermon Jesus preached or a single miracle He performed until the Holy Spirit came upon Him. He was totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit. He was our pattern. He had emptied Himself from His divine majesty and power, He’s made himself like us, He’s taken on Himself the form of a servant, the likeness of a man. But when the Holy Spirit came upon Him, then the power and the purposes of God were released through Him by the Holy Spirit and it should be the same with us.
And then, just one other passage on this same line. When Peter went to the house of Cornelius and preached the first time the gospel message to that Gentile household he introduced them to Jesus of Nazareth and this is what he said in Acts 10:38:
“You know Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil: for God was with Him.” (NAS)
You see, Peter again states the same thing: the whole ministry of Jesus, His public ministry, came out of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Until the Holy Spirit came upon Him he neither preached nor performed miracles. Once the Holy Spirit came upon Him He was released to ministry to the needs of humanity. I always like this thought that in this ministry of healing, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all united. The Father anointed the Son with the Spirit. And, as children of God, God desires that He can anoint us with the same Spirit with which He anointed Jesus.
Finally, let’s consider briefly, for a moment, the things that attract or repel the dove and they’re stated, some of them, in Ephesians 4:29B32:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word that is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (NAS)
What are the things that grieve the Holy Spirit? Unwholesome words, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander. All these are contrary to the nature of the lamb. What are the things that attract the Holy Spirit? Kindness, tenderheartedness, mutual forgiveness. You see, when He doesn’t find the lamb nature, he cannot abide. The key to having the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit with us is to cultivate the nature of the lamb.
Our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this same time. Tomorrow I’m going to share with you three important results which only the Holy Spirit can produce in us. My special offer this week is my book, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which explains in clear, practical language how you can have a personal, supernatural encounter with the Holy Spirit that can transform the rest of your life. Also, my complete series of talks this week on “How to be Led by the Holy Spirit, Part 1” is available in a single, carefully edited cassette. Stay tuned for details.