In our previous study we noted how the Holy Spirit was involved in the incarnation. Now we need to take a look at His ministry with regards to the life of Christ from boyhood to His death on the cross.
It is certain that the Holy Spirit was active in the early life of the Lord Jesus as He was in manhood. Like all Jewish children He would have heard all the teachings from the Law and the Prophets as He attended the local synagogue. Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” At the age of thirteen He astounded the theologians in the temple with His great understanding of the Scriptures (Luke 2:46-51). Though He grew up as any human child, the Holy Spirit no doubt guided His development.
At His baptism in the Jordan River there was a very special manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16 records that “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” This is why the dove is often used to symbolise the Holy Spirit. We also note that the Trinity was present at this moment; Jesus was being baptised, the Father spoke, and the Holy Spirit descended (Matthew 3:13-17). This baptism was not the baptism of repentance; instead it was Christ’s (symbolic) washing and anointing as the Great High Priest in preparation for the Supreme Sacrifice through His blood. The Holy Spirit was actually anointing Jesus for His future ministry.
After His baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus went through a series of temptations for forty days and nights in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13 each describe something of what Christ went through as Satan tested Him. We are informed that “Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Luke 4:1). It was God’s will that the Messiah should undergo these temptations to prove that He was the perfect Saviour … “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him … For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 5:9; 2:10.) At each test Jesus used the “Sword of the Spirit” against the Devil (Ephesians 6:17).
Christ’s Earthly Ministry
The earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ took place during the final three years of His life, but during this time He ministered under the anointing of the Holy Spirit … “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). It should not surprise us to learn that Jesus, as a human being, was filled with the Spirit … “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John 3:34). He was the first person in all of history who had the Holy Spirit without limitation or measure. Every word, act, and miracle of Jesus was through the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself 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” (Luke 4:18-19.)
Though Jesus, in obedience to the Father’s will, freely laid down His life for us, He did it through the power of the Spirit … “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?” (Hebrews 9:14).
It was impossible for death and the grave to bind Jesus. After three days and three nights He was alive again. The Spirit of God had an active part in this too, for Romans 8:11 tells us, “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.” The quickening power of the Holy Spirit brought life back into Christ’s earthly body.
Before ascending to the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit. He had previously encouraged them with the words, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26), but now He informs His disciples that it was bout to happen just as He promised … “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). From this point the earthly ministry of the Holy Spirit began.
Every part of the life and ministry of Christ was influenced and anointed by the Holy Spirit. From His conception to His ascension we see just how involved the Spirit was with Jesus. If God’s only begotten Son needed the presence of the Holy Spirit, how much more each one of us!